A Grape Winter Escape: Taste around Temecula in style
Taste around Temecula in style.
By Alison Bailin Batz
Though technically winter, Temecula Valley Wine Country, which is less than an hour from San Diego Airport or a quick five-hour drive from the Valley, will spring to life in January.
“Every year, we put our growth––not to mention our grapes––on display during grand Temecula Valley Barrel Tasting Weekend,” says Cori DeHore of the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association. “This year, from Jan. 27 to 28, our 30-plus partner wineries will not only open their doors to wine lovers, but invite guests behind the scenes to enjoy unfinished barrel and tank wine samples, as well as finished and newly released wines with their sommeliers, winemakers, and even some owners on hand to answer questions and get in on the fun.”
According to DeHore, each of the wineries will also perfectly pair delectable food samplings from area restaurants with their wines all weekend long, including these standouts:
- Callaway Winery: Though it’s the oldest winery in Temecula, Callaway Winery is among the most innovative. Founded by Ely Callaway––of Callaway Golf fame––and now privately owned by a local family, the breathtaking estate and tasting room is built high above the city.
- Briar Rose: This property is off the path of the wine trails among the rolling hills, originally designed by Beldon Fields who assisted in creating Disneyland in the 1950s. The property is host to a life-size replica of Grimm’s Brothers Snow White’s Cottage.
- Falkner: Located high on a hill with a spectacular view overlooking the entire Temecula Valley.
- Longshadow: They have horses on property so only go if you want a “rustic” spot, but really funky and cool with re-modeled barn. If they have it, get the chocolate boot shooter of port.
- Oak Mountain: The only winery in a cave in the area.
And, in an effort to prevent any remotely buzzed or drunk drivers on the road, the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association partners with the premiere wine tour company on the West Coast, Grapeline Wine Tours, to provide two-day transportation as well as expert guides, who are as entertaining as they are educated about the area, both days of the event.
“Though their bustling tour buses and vans, each impossible to miss with their trademark giant grapes emblazoned on each vehicle, are now available throughout Napa, Paso Robles, Santa Barbara and Sonoma Valley, Grapeline Wine Tours was actually founded 15 years ago here in the heart of Temecula by local couple John and Kim Kelliher,” says DeHore. “As a result, they’ve been key to growing this event over the past several years, not to mention acting as our city’s ambassadors for the thousands of out of town guests we host throughout the weekend.”
There are also a host of resorts and hotels in the area that are picture perfect for the event weekend or anytime during the winter months, and offering special deals to Barrel Weekend guests, including:
Ponte Vineyard Inn: Just a few years old, Ponte Vineyard Inn has already earned AAA Four-Diamond status and been lauded by Trip Advisor as the “Number One Hotel in Temecula” and by Departures Magazine as one of the “Top 10 Vineyard Hotels in the World” for its luxurious accommodations tucked right into its sprawling 300 acres of juicy grapevines, which allows for up close and personal winemaking and wine tastings experiences. A bonus––every room in the sustainable inn offers a private patio or balcony overlooking the vineyards, and often a sea of hot air balloons each morning. Ponte also offers a full bar, which is located underground in their cavernously cool Cellar Lounge.
Europa Village: Among Temecula’s newest and boldest destinations yet. Focused on bringing a little taste of the Old World to the heart of Temecula’s wine country, the mission of the vineyard/tasting haven/luxury bed and breakfast concept is to wake up the taste buds and provide a delightful slice of European style, ambiance, and hospitality at every turn. Hot air balloon adventures depart each morning on-site near the winery side while world-class tastings are offered to new guests and returning club members.
Two-day passes for the Temecula Valley Barrel Tasting Weekend––inclusive of all tastings at up to 36 wineries, transportation on Grapeline Wine Tours, and all small bites from restaurants and resorts across the region––start at just $239 per person. One-day passes and those who do not wish to use transportation can get tickets starting at just $78. For more information, visit temeculawines.org.
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