Winemakers in Temecula have gotten more sophisticated and abundant in recent years, and people are noticing. Wine Enthusiast magazine named the city one of the 10 best wine travel destinations in 2019. Warm-weather grapes such as sangiovese and tempranillo do very well, and there are plenty of wineries making sparkling varieties, too. Head out for an easy getaway this spring to indulge in wine-pairing dinners, golf, spa treatments, and downtime to soothe your spirits after too much time at home.
Launched in 2015, Carter Estate Winery and Resort is the perfect option for a serene stay. With 60 bungalows—including 18 two-bedroom, two-bathroom suites—the award-winning resort ensures you have everything you need to relax: soaking tubs, spacious showers, in-room fireplaces, and a private patio overlooking the vineyards ($233 and up). There’s a free shuttle to sister property South Coast Winery Resort & Spa. Head there for an elaborate dinner at Vineyard Rose or a treatment at GrapeSeed Spa.
Spread out on 300 acres of rolling hills, manicured greens, and lovely oak trees, Temecula Creek Inn provides plenty of space and a quaint and quiet home base for wine tasting. The secluded property includes 130 guest rooms ($175 and up), which have patios or balconies overlooking lush landscape and a 27-hole golf course. The resort is pet friendly and offers free transportation to its partner property, Pechanga Resort Casino, where the enormous spa awaits with healing treatments.
The food at Cork Fire Kitchen is inspired by fresh local ingredients, some of them sourced from the property’s own garden. Try the vegan corn and coconut bisque with cilantro and pearled cucumber ($14) or a hearty pistachio-crusted lamb sirloin with mint salsa verde and brown butter carrots ($43). The restaurant partners with local wineries to host wine-pairing dinners. A five-course event last year included malbec-braised beef cheek and roasted pig belly. Check with the restaurant for the next event.
SPEAK OF THE DEVIL
After gaining fame and awards in 2013 and 2014 as a food truck, Devilicious opened a restaurant and taproom to serve its signature comfort food with a twist and
34 draft beers. Thirsty Thursdays mean half-price bottles of wine to go with your asparagus grilled cheese with Brie and caramelized onion ($15). Or try the pork belly tacos with chile-roasted pineapple ($10). There’s also a speakeasy—Apparition Room—that opens at 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
“Hike the Dripping Springs trail. If you get there on a nice day after a rainstorm or in the spring, water is flowing through the creek and provides a fun place for kids to splash and investigate nature.”
—tip from CIARA GREEN, TEMECULA RESIDENT
GET YOUR WINE ON
One of the classics, family-owned Hart Winery has been a staple in Temecula since opening in 1980. Visit the tasting room any day for four 2-ounce tastes ($20) of this boutique wine and bring your own picnic. Opened in 2014, Avensole Winery combines the Italian words for adventure and one of a kind. The winemakers focus on zinfandel and offer glasses and bottles in a modern tasting room on the hilltop property. For a more intimate experience, try Bottaia Winery’s barrel room tasting, which includes six estate wines and one from the barrel (reservations recommended, $30).
For a leisurely lunch overlooking the Callaway vineyard, head to Meritage Restaurant. Start with the beet carpaccio salad with watercress, honey-braised fennel, and lemon vinaigrette ($20) then move on to prosciutto-wrapped Chilean sea bass with pan-fried potato and dark beer sauce ($36). Sunday brunch offers freshly squeezed orange juice for the mimosas, an entrée, and dessert ($40). Dinner is available Friday and Saturday nights.
The Carter Winery is one of the only places in the Temecula Valley that uses the méthode champenoise process for its sparkling wines. Visit the tasting room any afternoon and
try the estate brut and penrose that won silver awards at the 2019 Orange County Fair Wine Competition. Sit outside, take in the view, and order a glass, bottle, or flight (five tastings for $25).
MARK YOUR CALENDAR | March 26: Tower of Power, the band blending R&B, jazz, funk, and rock since 1968, performs at Pechanga Resort Casino. pechanga.com