Ever since my first visit to Temecula in 2017, I had been DYING to go back for a longer visit. My first visit was for my boyfriend's birthday and was less than 48 hours. Not to mention the fact that it was actually raining during our one wine tasting event. Yes, it literally rained on our parade.
Nevertheless, I still got good vibes from that little town and was eager to go return. It only took a couple years but boy was it worth the wait.
Let me preface this by saying I've been planning this trip since November 2018. Christmas was rapidly approaching and my boyfriend had given me ZERO ideas for gifts and with his birthday less than a month after Christmas, I started thinking about doing a big birthday getaway instead of bothering with little things that he may or may not even like. Ask anyone close to me and they'll tell you as of late I'm ALL about the experience which as you can see in this case meant HE was going to be all about the experience too.
Anyway, I started looking at going back to our favorite little Inn at Europa Village for MLK weekend, AKA his birthday weekend. Hotel rooms were averaging $250-$300 a night which felt a little pricey especially since it didn't take into account all the tasting, food, etc. we would for sure be indulging in all weekend.
Photo Courtesy of BedandBreakfast.com.
So, I decided to ask his sisters if they would like to fly out from Illinois for the celebratory weekend. That way we could all pitch in for a bigger AirBnB house and enjoy a wine tasting weekend together celebrating another trip around the sun for Adam.
No surprise, they were immediately in. Leaving behind the single digit temps for a weekend of sunshine in Southern California? Sold!
After some thorough AirBnB searching we landed on the perfect one. Located on a five acre vineyard, this home was far enough away from town to enjoy some peace and quiet - not to mention stunning views of the sun rising over the mountains in the morning - but close enough to get to the wineries in 20 minutes or less.
Photo courtesy of AirBnB listing.
Once our AirBnB was booked, I wanted to book at least one unique experience ahead of time. I found some fun options on Groupon and Cloud9 Living but the search was over once I found Van n Boozy on AirBnb Experiences. Funny enough, Adam and I had been talking about getting an old VW Bus and fixing it up for road trips and now we could enjoy a day of wine tasting in one!
Now, the challenge was for all of us to keep it a secret for a couple months. Thankfully with all of the commotion of the holidays, we were able to keep our lips zipped and before we knew it the weekend was here!
Once we arrived to our humble abode, which was even better than we could have imagined by the way, we settled in and got ready for our first day of tasting. I should also mention that the ENTIRE week leading up to this weekend was pouring rain in Los Angeles. I'm talking streets flooded, people forgetting how to drive kind of rain. It was 75 and sunny ALL WEEKEND in Temecula.
One of my sorority sisters from college has a family winery which was our first stop of the weekend. By the end of the weekend I think the entire group agreed it was also our favorite stop. The tasting hosts at Lorenzi Estate were extremely knowledgeable and offered great insight into the wine we were being served. For any of my fellow red wine drinkers I would definitely recommend this destination. Also, it has amazing Rose in the cutest little personal sized bottles I've ever seen. We all purchased our fair share of wine here.
From there we went to Wilson Creek. I was first introduced to Wilson Creek's well known almond wine at my best friend Katie's wedding. Ironically enough, a coworker of mine recommended Wilsoncreek too for their amazing Sunday brunch inclusive of bottomless almond wine. Sign me up! Unfortunately our Sunday was already scheduled out so while we wouldn't be able to check out the brunch selection this time around, we could still indulge in our fair share of almond wines.
Wow. What a different experience from Lorenzi Estate. We should have recognized purely from how far away we had to park what we were about to get ourselves in to. Granted Wilson Creek is a much more commercial wine but boy was that place busting at the seams with people. Apparently it has the reputation of being the bachelorette party destination and now I can see why. In fact we saw a few while we were there. And oh yeah did I mention they were setting up the back patio for a wedding while we were there?
It was good to get a different experience and I would probably still go back - maybe just for the brunch - but it was a bit busy for my liking. In fact, there wasn't even room at the counter for us to squeeze in for a tasting so we just bought a bottle and some snacks and enjoyed it on the back patio...While watching the bridal party prepare for the evening festivities. What a trip.
We were sufficiently exhausted by the end of afternoon of wine drinking and figured we would try and dash over to our dinner destination before the evening dinner crowd made their way over too.
Goat and Vine - as recommended by our AirBnb host - was the designated dinner destination. Believe it or not it was already an hour wait by 5:30pm - signs of a solid recommendation. Nevertheless, we put our name in and decide to walk around and check out the town. It reminded me of my hometown Sacramento, specifically Old Sacramento. With the wood paneled floors and old, Spanish style buildings, downtown Temecula had all the vibes.
We walked across the street to this cute little store called The Barn Yard. This indoor/outdoor space has some amazing little finds for the home and garden. From there we continued wandering around until we stumbled into the ice cream and candy shop. I mean we had to get our after dinner desert anyway.
At this point we had killed about 40 minutes of our hour wait time and the group consensus was hunger was sinking in. Almost as if the stars aligned especially for us in that moment we walked by this restaurant on the corner that caught my eye. Maintaining that Spanish style influence, the building immediately drew me in. I looked up to see what it was called and funny enough it was one of the other restaurants I was looking at for Adam's birthday dinner - Espadin Mescal + Cocina.
So being that stomachs were sufficiently grumbling at this point, we decided to forgo dinner at Goat and Vine for Espadin. It did not disappoint! While dimly lit, this Mexican restaurant is so cute inside and the food wasn't half bad either. This coming from a girl who doesn't really enjoy Mexican food outside of chips and guac. I did enjoy my shrimp tacos, spicy margarita and my body weight in chips and guac however. It was definitely a good decision although I'm still eager to go back and try Goat and Vine. Next time!
And just like that the sun set on our first day in Temecula.
We went to bed early and I was most excited for the last birthday surprise to come on Sunday - our Van n Boozy tasting tour. We woke up early and enjoyed the first moments of light beyond the mountains in our backyard. Another incredible sight came from the sky by way of all the hot air balloons in the field just beyond ours. Pictures truly couldn't do this scene justice. Adding that to my Temecula bucket list!
Around 11:15 our Van n Boozy - Boozy3 to be exact - pulled up. We met our host, snapped a few photos and we were off! First stop - Akash. We were the first people at this winery so it truly felt like the VIP treatment. Having recently opened, Akash was a great find and one I definitely wouldn't have discovered on my own.
From the moment we arrived I knew it would be the perfect summertime destination. With giant jenga, a spacious patio and corn hole, I could spend hours there sipping and relaxing and enjoying some rays. Which is essentially what we did on that sunny January day. The Cabernet Sauvignon was my favorite from that particular tasting but I would say the scenery was definitely the best part.
After Akash, we went to a more lavish destination, Fazeli. Fazeli is a Persian winery which was definitely a first for me. Set in this grand, hilltop estate, Farzani was the total package. It even had live music during our visit. There was a solid group of people there enjoying the music and food on the patio as well. We dashed inside for our tasting where we chose from red or white. Being that we were all red wine drinkers, it was four red tastings for us.
The wines seemed fairly similar to me but they were all really good! It actually kind of made it hard to pick a favorite but we managed and took a bottle home to enjoy later.
The sun kept shining on our beautiful tasting afternoon and it was already time for our last destination - Peltzer. What a great last stop! I actually loved the setting of Peltzer so much. It was inside this big amazing barn and had cozy country vibes. While that's so not me normally, it was really fun and whimsical and had such a great small town vibe that I appreciated.
Also, I can't talk about Peltzer without talking about the bread pairing it offered with the wine tasting. Each wine matched perfectly with its designated bread from the Great Harvest Bread Co. Literally some of the best bread I have ever had. Granted it helped being three tastings deep at this point but the bread was good, I promise. Did I mention there was a pizza food truck outside too?! They knew just what we needed - eh more so wanted at this point in our wine tasting journey.
I could not say enough about Van n Boozy. Rich was an amazing host and each winery destination he picked had its own unique quirks not to mention the fact I would have never found them on my own. I love that! We all bought some Van n Boozy merch at the end of our trip and cannot wait to visit them again soon.
And just like that, it was a wrap on our wine tasting weekend in Temecula. It honestly could not have been a better weekend. From the surprise(s), to the tasting, to the Van n Boozy tour, it couldn't have gone any better. Temecula is such an amazing little town and a great weekend escape. Less than two hours away from LA, it's easy to get to and is the best adventure away from the big city. Just like after my first visit there, I'm anxiously awaiting my next one...
(Originally Published January 29, 2019)