Sunny Temecula Valley is home to more than 40 wineries. Among the rolling hills of this Southern California viticulture haven, you’ll find friendly winemakers, farm-to-table restaurants, charming inns, and jaw-dropping views. Whether you’re interested in a wine-tasting experience, live music under the stars, Shakespeare in the Vines, or a chance to stomp some grapes, it’s an easy one-hour drive from San Diego to this pastoral landscape. It’s all waiting for you in lovely Temecula Valley.
Ponte’s new sister winery is the talk of the town
Imagine a 21+ only winery with a pool in the vineyards. Bottaia, (pronounced boh-TAH-ya), is shaking up the Temecula wine scene with forward-thinking concepts and summertime fun. The newly opened winery, which focuses exclusively on estate-grown Italian varietals, is offering four unique wine-tasting experiences that are not to be missed.
For an immersive culinary adventure that explores the nuances of wine and food interactions, try their Seated Tasting + Charcuterie Pairing. A wine expert will guide guests through five preselected, high-quality estate wines paired with one of three generous charcuterie plates.
Ever wondered what wine tastes like straight from the barrel? Now you can find out during Bottaia’s Barrel Room Tasting, where you can try six estate wines from the bottle and one directly from the barrel. It’s an enlightening chance to learn about the effects of barrel and bottle aging on Italian varietals.
And for those who fancy being a winemaker for a day, their Wine Blending Lab Experience is a dream come true. Bottaia has a professional blending lab inside their fermentation building with graduated cylinders and pipettes for exact measurements.
Aspiring winemakers, with the help of experts, blend four separate reds into their own creation, which is bottled, corked, and taken home that very day. Finally, you can relax on plush outdoor seating on the stunning Club Terrace that overlooks the 220-acre estate, or kick back inside the Club Lounge, a luxurious living room with more vineyard views. Order a bottle or sip a glass of Bottaia’s stellar wine while nibbling on Italian bar-style snacks.
And then there’s the splashy pool scene, adjacent to the tasting room, where you can enjoy an afternoon of vino and vitamin D. Slip on your suit or board shorts in your private cabine, an Italian-style changing room with a shower and amenities, then lounge on a chaise by the pool. Included in the cabine rental are glasses of Bottaia’s white sangria for two adults. There’s also a full-service cocktail bar and pool café serving up fresh California-Mediterranean cuisine, like panini, salads, and more. And while Bottaia’s pool is open to all ages, anyone who wants to swim must rent a chaise—unless you’re under age 4, as small fries will be busy playing on the splash pad.
Taste the Terroir
Explore Temecula’s Exceptional Wineries
These sister properties enchant as exciting destinations for savvy wine lovers and travelers. At South Coast Winery’s 63-acre estate, guests can enjoy the Spanish-style luxury hotel, a heated pool with underwater music, and a sprawling spa. It’s also an idyllic destination for a fairy-tale wedding with its bell tower courtyard, vineyards, rose arbor, banquet hall, and garden. You can take a behind-the-scenes tour or taste award-winning wines—impressively, they’ve acquired 5,000 medals and awards since opening.
In 2015, South Coast Winery owner Jim Carter unveiled his second resort winery. Situated on 112 acres, Carter Estate Winery and Resort boasts 60 spacious bungalows and suites with expansive vineyard vistas, a sparkling cabana-lined pool, and a breathtaking outdoor dining venue. This winery is positioned to become one of California’s preeminent méthode champenoise sparkling wine producers. Carter Estates also produces renowned still wines in varietals ranging from crisp whites to robust reds. Guests have access to horse-drawn carriage rides through the vineyards, sunrise hot-air balloon rides, golfing at Pechanga or CrossCreek Golf Club, and private bike tours through the verdant Temecula Valley. Don’t miss the weekly wine and chocolate pairing experience—an opportunity to sample Carter Estate’s award-winning wines alongside artisanal chocolates from Temecula’s Sugarplum Farm. Think dark chocolate and raspberry truffle paired with a 2013 sangiovese, or a dark chocolate rum truffle paired with a 2012 syrah. Decadent and divine.
Nestled on more than 45 acres of rolling hills and vintage terroir in the Temecula Valley wine country, Europa Village is a unique destination for connoisseurs of fine wine who also enjoy a relaxing bucolic atmosphere. Europa Village offers you the charm and character of Europe, transporting you to the Old World villages of France, Spain, and Italy without ever stepping on a plane. Whether you’re there to taste the wines, stay at the charming inn, attend an acclaimed wine-pairing dinner, or celebrate a wedding in the beautiful gardens or wine cave, Europa Village masterfully creates meaningful experiences for guests from the moment you enter the gates.
At this mountain-view boutique winery, father and son winemakers Dave and Dylan Bradley produce thoughtfully handcrafted wines (1,800 cases a year) using sustainable farming practices. In their vineyard, you’ll find cabernet sauvignon, petite syrah, grenache, syrah, and their famous zinfandel, which they call "More Cowbell" in homage to the Will Ferrell skit from Saturday Night Live. These multifaceted winemakers are also expert hot air balloon pilots. In the mornings, you can soar over the rolling hill vineyards and then sip delicious New World reds in the afternoon at the outdoor tasting room in the company of olive trees. Life is good at Vindemia.
With two tasting locations, one in Old Town and the other in the heart of Temecula Valley, Lorimar focuses on great wine, live music, fine food, and inspiring local art. The Tuscan-style winery offers breathtaking views, a weekend food truck, free concerts, and special events like Smoke & Vine, Laugh your Glass Off, Movie in the Vines, Winestock, Winemakers Dinner, and more. Their award-winning wines range from robust cabernets and sangiovese to viognier, chardonnay, and sparkling grenache rosé.
Temecula’s first commercial winery, founded by Ely Callaway of golf fame, is celebrating 50 years of winemaking this year. Look for celebrations and a special anniversary wine, along with their new release of Rosé Soleil, a dry, luminous pink summertime sipper by winemaker Craig Larson, honoring his love for the South of France. Enjoy Callaway’s summer concert series, live music on weekends, and their Sun-sational Summer Sundays through Labor Day with frosés, gourmet edibles, and giant lawn games. Callway’s modern tasting room in the Gaslamp is the perfect stop for artisanal cheeseboards and wine pairings. Look for an array of summer specials throughout the season.
Whether you want to try well-made wine, dine on award-winning cuisine, or get married in a scenic vineyard setting, Falkner Winery has it all. This estate produces 12 different wines and takes pride in the fact that 80 percent of winemaker Duncan Williams’s wines have won gold or silver medals—and roughly a dozen Falkner wines have earned 90+ point ratings from Wine Enthusiast. Falkner also makes a "Seductive Series," consisting of wines with some level of sweetness, like their trademark red and white Luscious Lips wines. In addition to their Wine Appreciation Class designed for all levels of wine knowledge, Falkner Winery is offering a Vertical Wine Tasting Class beginning in July. Conducted by their in-house sommelier, this class explores five vintages of the same wine varietal so guests can better understand how wine evolves over the years.
Nestled in the heart of wine country, Thornton Winery is Temecula’s original Champagne house. Taste winemaker David Vergari’s premium wines and sparkling wines during a sit-down experience in Thornton’s stylish lounge or over a leisurely lunch on the patio of Café Champagne. For the past 31 years, Thornton has hosted a spectacular Champagne Concert Series with acclaimed artists like Chris Botti, Kenny G, Chris Isaak, and Dave Koz performing on the open-air terrace of the French-style chateau. Gourmet supper packages make the evening under the stars even more memorable. The winery also offers Live Friday Music in their beautiful courtyard. Be sure to try their brut rose sparkling wine or chocolate dessert wine.
Beloved by the community, this family-owned winery is known for its warm hospitality, dynamic atmosphere, and serious fun. Wilson Creek has recently expanded their lively tasting room and added a new outdoor patio where you can enjoy their wine—everything from 90-point reds to their famous almond sparkling wine. Wilson Creek is releasing two new sparkling flavors, refreshing lemon and watermelon sippers, just in time for summer. Dine at the Creekside Grille, picnic in the rose garden, catch a concert with big names like the Gin Blossoms, shop for gifts in their boutique, or play bocce or cornhole in the sunshine. It’s one giant summertime party at Wilson Creek.
This winery is a striking blend of Old World charm and modern sophistication. Monte de Oro produces well-structured, elegant wines, which have earned more than 140 platinum, double gold, gold, best-of, and 90+ point wine awards. The stunning setting features a glass-floored tasting room with views of the barrel room below, a gourmet bistro, and an enormous 10,000-square-foot patio with a reflection pool and views of the vineyards. You can enjoy breakfast with the balloons soaring overhead, VIP tastings and tours, and live concerts. Monte de Oro is also a favorite wedding venue for vows in the vines.
Wine Country Wedding
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Five Finds for Alfresco Dining
This tranquil spot overlooking the vines is a favorite for fresh, farm-to-table meals made from scratch. Try their delish poke nachos with fresh ahi and avocado or a mimosa-infused Sunday brunch.
Set high on the hill at Falkner Vineyard, this award-winning restaurant offers scenic panoramics, vineyard views, terrific Mediterranean American fare and a to-go picnic menu.
At Robert Renzoni Vineyards, you’ll find this Italian comfort food gem—think pasta, salads, and pizzas from a brick oven, along with views of the rolling hills.
Experience an exceptional alfresco dining experience at this elegant eatery that serves seasonal California French cuisine and dishes made from scratch. In addition to lunch and dinner, there’s a lovely afternoon tea with finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries.
At Baily Vineyard & Winery’s restaurant, you can relax on the patio with your pooch next to the cabernet vines. They even have a special menu for your four-legged friend on Dog Day Sundays, so you can all enjoy lunch.