If you are thinking of traveling to Southern California to investigate Temecula’s wine scene, there are many surprises. The first surprise is that the wines are very good. The second surprise is finding an extensive collection of vintage motorcycles at Doffo Winery.
A hobby becomes a business
The owner of Doffo Winery is Marcelo Doffo. He was born and raised in Argentina. Marcelo learned the ropes of ranching and farming on his grandfather’s farm before moving to the U.S. in 1975. Marcelo also learned about the lure of motorcycles in Argentina; a passion that would last a lifetime. It was on a trip back to visit the old country he rediscovered his Italian roots. While in Turin, Italy he found out his great uncle still made estate wine in an Old World fashion, and the seed for another lifelong passion was planted. Marcelo came back to the U.S. eager to try his hand at winemaking. After winning a silver award for his homemade wine, Marcelo got serious about turning his hobby into a business, and Doffo Winery was born.
He soon found and purchased a 15-acre/6.07 hectare former cattle ranch and began the hard work of preparing the land for planting grape vines. After four years of laboriously preparing the soil by hand, planting vines, and installing trellises and irrigation lines, Marcelo introduced his new wines to the world. Doffo has some of the best wines in the Temecula wine region but is also widely known for a love of motorcycles too.
An extensive collection
Along the journey to establishing himself as a quality winemaker was Marcelo’s passion for motorcycles and motorcycle racing. In time, what started as a hobby restoring old motorcycles, mainly those of Italian manufacturers, became an extensive collection. Doffo’s barrel room was designed to hold both the motorcycle collection and barrels for aging wine. When they ran out of space for the growing number of vintage bikes, it made sense to build a barrel room befitting of their extraordinary collection of vintage and specialty motorcycles. With brand names like: Moto Guzzi, Vicentina, Ducati, and Zoppoli, this collection grabs attention of both motorcycle lovers and regular guests also. The motorcycles are displayed high up on custom shelves inside and outside the barrel room. Outside the barrel room facing the tasting room is a line of road bikes including an old Harley Davidson.
Some of the motorcycles in the collection seem like nothing more than a bicycle with a small motor attached. Check out the meticulously restored 190 Sparta. The Sparta has a green shroud encasing the motor and much of the bike with a triangular bicycle-type leather seat. Motorcycles like these harken back to European times when getting around by moped or small motorcycle was a common form of transport.
On the MotoDoffo website, check out the photos of the 1967 Italjet Sidecar Racer. Pictures show how the sidecar rider would bend into the shell and hang on for dear life during these intense races. The 1960 Rumi Formichino 125cc is a clunky looking, two-seater, made for zooming about busy European streets in daily life. This beauty was made in the last year of production before Donnino Rumi went back to his primary business as sculptor and artist. The tasting room also features a few motorcycles on display like a Sachs mini-bike on the floor that came from a children’s carousel. The two bright red motorcycles parked high atop wine display shelves are gimmick bikes. One is an electric bike and the other a pocket bike.
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Tour the area
The location of Doffo Winery is close to scenic roads through the desert and mountains. If you’re a motorcycle enthusiast, a ride southeast out of Temecula takes you to the tiny town of Aguanga. Just before arriving at the intersection of Highway 79 South and 371, you will see the famous sculptor Ricardo Breceda’s work. A few of his amazing sculptures grace the roadside before and after his property. Stop in to see the expansive display and view dinosaurs, horses, old west wagons with horse teams, and a seven-foot/ 2.1 meters tall chicken.
Just past the intersection of 79 and 371 at the first right turn is the Temecula Olive Ranch. Call ahead for reservations to tour (15 USD) then stop in for a taste of some delicious home-grown olive oil and vinegar before heading on to Doffo. At Doffo, enjoy a break with great tasting wines and a fascinating motorcycle collection. If lunch is on your mind, check out Wilson Creek Winery just three minutes from Doffo on the way west to Temecula. Here you will find ample parking and the Wilson Creek Winery and Creekside Grille.
Take home a bottle or more
After lunch, it’s a short 15–20 minute ride into old town Temecula if you want to stroll the historic center. Temecula holds plenty of bars, restaurants, and shops to investigate before heading off into the sunset like an old west movie. If you’re lucky, you snagged a couple of bottles of fine Doffo wine to stash in your saddlebags. These souvenirs will remind you of a great ride each time you pop open a bottle and have you dreaming about walls of vintage motorcycles among the vines.
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