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Countywide Agriculture Route That Includes Wine Country Debuts Friday

Riverside County's digital Ag Trail map will be the highlight of a reception at 1:30 p.m. Friday at Peltzer Farms in Temecula.

A map featuring more than 100 farms, vegetable stands, wineries and other locations throughout Riverside County that boast a host of fresh homegrown products for purchase will be unveiled Friday during two receptions.

The "Ag Trail" includes stops in the Temecula Valley Wine Country, the Riverside citrus groves, Cherry Valley and the desert.

"The county's goal is to promote agriculture and agri-tourism," county Foreign Trade Commissioner Tom Freeman told City News Service. "This helps market these 100-plus locations and will definitely help in driving attendance to festivals and fairs and will likely help sell our ag products, from fresh- cut Christmas trees to pumpkins to the whole variety of produce grown across the county."

The Ag Trail map will be the highlight of receptions Friday at 10 a.m. at Madison Street Produce in Indio, and at 1:30 p.m. at Peltzer Farms in Temecula. County Supervisors John Benoit and Jeff Stone are scheduled to be on hand for each event.

The Ag Trail website will go live following the Temecula reception, Freeman said.

The online chart allows users to choose from several different categories, depending on their interests. A visitor will get a snapshot of farmers' markets, where to look for wineries and details and schedules on the county's popular festivals and fairs, including the National Date Festival in Indio and the Beaumont Cherry Festival.

There will also be information on so-called "holiday farms," which do business seasonally.

All of the attractions are accessible by car and cover a roughly 400- mile route that zigzags across the county, from its southwestern pocket to the Arizona state line.

Benoit and Stone introduced the Ag Trail concept last July as a means to promote tourism and support area agricultural interests.

According to Freeman, the county's agricultural trade is valued at $3 billion, with exports to 67 countries. He said Japan and China were the top export destinations of agricultural products generated locally in 2011.

The county's agricultural base supports more than 30,000 jobs, according to Freeman.

Stone touted the potential of the Temecula Valley Wine Country to boost the regional economy as it undergoes an expansion encompassing 22,000 acres, populated by growers, vintners and related businesses.

The county is home to around 1,700 dairies, farms, ranches, wineries, historical and cultural sites.

Several agencies, including the Departments of Environmental Health and Information Technology, partnered with the  the Riverside County Farm Bureau and California Women for Agriculture to design the website and other promotional materials, Freeman said.

—City News Service

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