25 Mar Explore Temecula, luxury on a budget
We have been to Temecula numerous times. You would think we have been to all of the wineries by now…nope, there are 42 wineries in Temecula currently, that I am aware of. Although on this trip I heard the name of another that I was unaware of. On this trip we revisited a few wineries, some to do more in depth tours, some to try again as it had been quite a while since we had been there, and then a couple we had not been to, some of which had only previously been open on weekends.
Our plan was luxury on a budget and the means to this end was suffer then indulge. We typically travel mid-week which in itself helps with the budget. Luckily the suffering part wasn’t really suffering at all. We wanted to stay at the Inn at Europa Village. Since Chef Dean Thomas and his wife Nicole became the Innkeepers here, they have updated the rooms and the property and serve an incredible 2-course gourmet breakfast.
Europa Village was also having a wine pairing dinner with their French style wines, which Chef Dean was cooking, so… we booked our trip to take advantage of this and indulge. Quite honestly, that makes for a bit of an expensive trip, so for our first day we found a less expensive hotel and planned to eat a little more frugally. We stayed at the Extended Stay America in Temecula at an extremely affordable rate. These rooms were also recently updated and the room was clean and comfortable.
We drove in Wednesday and had two tours booked for the day. The first was at noon at Miramonte where we are members and included a tour, the tasting of 10 wines and a bit of pairing. We had been warned to have lunch before arriving, and packed a lunch to eat on the way. At 4 pm we had a tour at Lorimar. We had stopped by here in December to their new tasting room and winery in wine country and had not had an opportunity to taste. After our second tour we headed down to check in at the Extended Stay America, rested a little and then headed into Old Town to taste at Fazeli, the valley’s newest winery and then have dinner. The Fazeli tasting room just opened this last fall. It is a beautiful space and Nicole and Jasmine are passionate about the wines. They recommended Palumbo’s Italian restaurant, just 2 blocks over for a late dinner. We arrived just ½ before close and enjoyed great pasta, perfectly cooked and a couple of glasses of wine before heading back to the hotel to wrap up day one.
Thursday’s plan was to taste at Danza del Sol and Keyways on the De Portola wine trail after shooting some shots of sunrise. Well, the clouds didn’t quite cooperate, but we did get some great vineyards shots.
We skipped tasting at Danza del Sol on our last trip. It was a weekend and we walked in and the place (which is large) was packed. We opted to return mid-week when it was less crowded and we might have the opportunity to really speak with the person in the tasting room and find out about the wines. I am really glad that we did. The wines are really wonderful (Mike Tingley is the winemaker) and Tommy was wonderful giving us all the information on the vineyards and winemaking methods…we all geeked out a little about wine in general. We were enamored enough to join the club here. All the wines had finesse and depth. From here we moved on to Keyways. The last time we were here it was right before Christmas and they were holding the Victorian Christmas Faire. This time we stopped in to taste and see the beautiful Brazilian Onyx bar.
We were running earlier than expected so we added a bonus winery to Thursday and stopped at Wilson Creek. We tasted at Wilson Creek several years ago on our very first trip to Temecula. The property has changed dramatically since then and in addition to tasting we explored the beautiful grounds.
By now it was time to head back to check in at The Inn at Europa Village. This place is fantastic and we were pampered from the moment we stepped through the door. We rested a bit and then got dressed for the “Moulin Rouge” dinner at Europa Village down the hill. The evening began on the patio then moved into the “Cave” for the pairing dinner and entertainment.
Day 3, Friday began slowly with watching a couple of balloons land just west of us somewhere behind the Callaway vineyards. We got dressed and headed down to enjoy breakfast served on the patio with an amazing view of the vineyards and another hot air balloon landing. We didn’t want to leave, but more wine awaited us!
We checked out and changed our plans. We had intended to taste at Europa and then downtown to Villa de Calabro, but since we tasted at Europa the night before, we opted to fit in a couple of wineries that we had not yet tasted at.
We took Rancho California to the furthest winery, Chapin Family vineyards. After a tasting here and learning quite a bit about the Chapin’s, their vineyards and the valley history from Leroy, we headed out to see if Lumiere was open. They are only open Friday through Sunday and we were lucky enough to be their first tasting of the day. This small family owned winery was an early vineyard in the valley and Martha was a wealth of information knowing first hand many of the people who set this valley on it’s winemaking path. To round out our day we headed next door to taste at the beautiful Longshadow Ranch. This property is really stunning and they have Clydesdales and Belgian draft horses that they actually use to plow the vineyards. This is a working farm so the barnyard smell is not always coming from the glass!
We ended the weekend on a budget note and had lunch in Temecula at Panera to fill our stomachs for the long drive home. The area is filled with all the modern conveniences, malls, chain restaurants etc…but we had never seen this part of it. Wine country and Old Town are devoid of the chains and are charming with the small businesses they hold. But…if you need Panera’s it’s not as far as you would expect! The best of both worlds I suppose.
That’s the overview…stay tuned for detailed blog posts with photos and movies on each of the places we visited! I think we only have 9 wineries left to taste at!