Temecula rates as one of those destinations that’s close enough to be convenient but far enough to feel like a vacation. If you live in North County and need a quick getaway with a loved one or the girls, Temecula should top the consideration list.
A recent weekend girlfriend excursion in November proved this to be true in spades. Here’s what we did:
Breakfast, Spa, and Getaway
An early morning departure led the five of us right to South Coast Winery’s Vineyard Rose restaurant where we ordered mimosas straightaway. Of course, solid foods were also involved and we enjoyed California Spa Frittatas (egg whites, mushrooms, tomato, spinach and goat cheese), a couple of Vineyard Breakfasts (two eggs, bacon, and toast), and a Bananas Foster Pancake (a must have). The food was delicious and the service even more so.
Right after breakfast, we headed to South Coast’s GrapeSeed Spa for a lazy day of facials, massages, jacuzzis, and saunas. The spa services couldn’t be beat, even if the facilities were a bit cramped and crowded. Relaxing on the patio and near the pool eased all those woes quickly, and we hung around with our People magazines, wines, and cheeses until well after three.
After packing up the car, we drove right across the way (we could have walked) to the Ponte Vineyard Inn where we stayed for the weekend. A serene, four-diamond hotel overlooking the vineyards, our first impression of Ponte didn’t disappoint. Surrounded by beautiful outdoor spaces, with an earthy, high-end rustic vibe, Ponte’s solicitous staff and attention to detail won us all over. Upon check-in, the front desk staffer offered a glass of Moscato and we were off to the races. We’d taken advantage of the “Girls’ Getaway Package,” which included a deluxe room, bottle of sparkling wine, and wine tasting tickets, and as we retired to the room with our 800 bags of shoes, we chatted about the epic weekend ahead of us.
Soon we found ourselves hungry again (a recurring theme throughout the weekend) and walked down a few flights of stairs to The Cellar Bar. Already crowded (Ponte turned out to be a popular wedding destination), The Cellar still had a few available tables we quickly snatched up; live entertainment, and enough people watching to keep us busy for hours. We ordered pretty much everything off the menu (flatbreads, sliders, butternut squash ravioli, cured meats and artisan cheeses) and then danced the night away to rock and roll cover tunes because that’s what you do on girls’ weekends.
Morning and Wine Tasting
We woke up early to the most amazing sight of hot air balloons rising over the vineyards and decided to take a walk to get ourselves as close to those balloons as possible without actually boarding one. Our morning jaunt took us through the vineyards at nearby Wiens and South Coast and truly set the tone for a beautiful fall weekend.
Soon enough it was 11AM and time to visit the wineries. Luckily, a friend from the area offered to chauffeur us from place to place, but we’d been prepared to Uber between destinations because of the convenience, and we wouldn’t be subject to the often strict departure times limo services impose. We started at Miramonte, a winery with a vast patio and equally as vast views. We passed over the tastings here, but ordered a bottle of the sublime Roussanne, settled against plump chaise cushions, took in the autumn sunlit vineyards, and again partook of many cheeses.
About an hour later, we traveled to Monte de Oro and its large tasting area, glass floor, and wonderful meritage blend dubbed “Simplexity,” which was comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet France, and Petite Verdot.
At that point, we let the friend-chauffeur take over because frankly, we were Simplexed into wine stupors. Fortunately, she dropped us at Masia de Yabar, an uncrowded winery best known for its Argentinean reds. Essentially a manor home converted to a winery, the comfortable, laid back surroundings suited the crazy lot of us just fine, as did the 2011 Estate Tempranillo.
No one was ready to go back to Ponte just yet (even if we were in reality, long past ready), and so we made our final stop at Robert Renzoni, a hilltop winery flush with patios, views, and 2011 Concerto tastings (have this red blend stat).
At around 4PM, we were dumped (or, dropped off) at South Coast for food again. After some calamari and perhaps more wine, we walked back to Ponte, drank 4,000 gallons of water, and called Uber to take us to Old Town Temecula. Turned out, everyone else in the world also went to Old Town that same night, so after repeated tries to eat at Public and The Bank, we ended up at a Mexican restaurant. I couldn’t recall the name of the place even if I squeezed all the wine out of my brain, but it was right across the street from Luke’s On Front, which we traveled to after dinner. That turned out to be a fortuitous move, which led to dancing all night to a band called The Counterfeits who played Bel Biv Devoe and Sublime, among other beloved acts. We did try to get into other clubs that night, but lines were long and consumed wines were many. In the end, Luke’s was the perfect place for a gaggle of 40-somethings enjoying a weekend away.
Lots of other stuff happened that shall not be named, and then we Ubered back to the hotel.
Morning and the Rest of the Day
We woke up early (I have absolutely no idea why; perhaps we’re not used to lives of leisure?) and insisted that breakfast happen ASAP. We enjoyed another delicious repast, this time at Ponte’s Bouquet restaurant. About midway through the ample meal, someone shared the brilliant idea that we should wine taste at Ponte and South Coast before heading home, and so that’s what we did because when in Temecula…
…Taste the Dolcetto 2012 at Ponte.
Where do you like to go in Temecula? Have you been for an entire weekend? Did you have the Dolcetto? Did you dance to Bel Biv Devoe?
Photos courtesy of the author.