Never before have I experienced such a picturesque journey—reminiscent of a romantic love story—in California. Well, aside from San Francisco. We began our journey from Laguna Beach after staying overnight at the Montage and dining at Studio. At this fabulous 5 star hotel everything you dream of is taken care of for you. When it comes to service, the hotel is impeccable and the cuisine is nothing short of immaculate. The evening sunset is truly awe-inspiring, and is a magnificent, romantic beginning to what is in store once you head up the road to historic Temecula wine country.
Some of the culinary delights that you’ll dine on at Studio feature fresh herbs and veggies from Chef Craig Strong’s garden, located right outside of the kitchen.
Marrying French and California cuisine styles, the food is knockout! I dined on the Chef’s tasting menu: a six-course dinner feast with wine pairing. After that absolutely stunning dinner, we rested our heads for the night.
In the morning we made a quick stop at the Sugar Shack in Huntington Beach, CA…
Sugar Shack is a great brunch or breakfast stop. The food is quick, tasty, and in the early morning hours it’s a great spot to watch the surfers come back up from the waves. We enjoyed a fulfilling breakfast here before heading up the road.
Here’s a map of Temecula Wine Country:
We arrived at beautiful Leoness Cellars, just off the 15. The enchanting views of this place will leave you in true awe. We enjoyed a fabulous view even on an overcast day. Speaking of weather, the best time to visit Temecula for ultimate primetime SoCal temps is Spring and late summer. The heat of June-August may be a bit much for you.
Since 2003, Mike Rennie and Gary Winder have built a true experience, providing some of the best wine in the valley accompanied by picturesque views of the rolling hills. The wines here are aged for an extended period of time in a combo of French and American oak barrels. This adds to the softness and complexity of their wines. Very yummy stuff. They also have a full service restaurant open for lunches and dinners with exceptional food—the Salmon wrap was a favorite of mine.
For our next stop we ventured off to a family owned winery that’s been in Temecula since 1998. If you’re looking for more of a low-key, boutiquey feel, Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery is the stop for you.
From their website, Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery is a 13 acre, 2500 case per year family run winery has often been described as “boutique,” but favors the term “artisanal” to describe the involvement and passion that goes into the daily operations. Please note, the vines look a little dead, only because we didn’t visit at the time of harvest. Typically that takes place between August and October. However, we did selectively try some of the grapes and they were crunchy, sweet, and delicious!
Next stop took us to Danza del Sol, where they have the oldest Sauvignon Blanc grapes in the Temecula valley. They were origianlly planted in 1972.
You’ll want to come here and enjoy an array of great wines, and this place was quite the scene when we arrived. Packed with a crowd of delighted wine drinkers, the atmosphere inside the tasting room was very warm and cozy. Our wine extraordinaire was very knowledgeable and helpful. Walter poured up whatever we wanted, whether it was sweet, dry, red or white. Whatever combo you want—it’s a free-for-all with the tasting. I particularly liked the wide variety served here at Danza del Sol.
What a great trip this was… I really enjoy getting away from LA for the weekend, especially if it’s only a quick trip away. You’ll want to enjoy this with a quick stop in Laguna Beach—we had an amazing time there at the Montage. I suggest this trip for any romantic types, or a couple just wanting to get away for a quick escape from the busy city. If you’re planning to wed, don’t let Temecula escape your list either. Most of these wineries are set for weddings, complete with altars and all. What a great way to begin your endless love! Happy wine drinking!
By: Nick Guillory