By Cathie Arquilla
Post pedi, we hustled over via complimentary golf cart to dive into a winery tour and tasting. Our guide was in a bit of a hurry. She spoke too fast and much of the information was lost on me.
However, she redeemed herself with the tasting that followed the actual tour. We sat down, alfresco, to a lovely table set with cheese plate and several wine glasses. Overlooking the vineyards, the scene said, “Southern California wine dynasty in all its glory.”
The take-away from the tasting was twofold: 1) South Coast Winery is on the map as a premier winemaker in California. They have won, for the last two years, the prestigious Golden Bear Award from the California State Fair Wine Competition. Be impressed. This award goes to the best winery in the entire state of California, including Napa! 2) The wines, to our taste buds, were outstanding! And we learned just how to taste them, what they would be good paired with, and why we should come back to this winery again and again.
After gadding about Old Town, ’50s big beaded choker in hand, we spread ourselves out all over the hotel room and never left (that night). We stayed at the Embassy Suites, Temecula. It was perfectly located for everything one might like to do in The Valley. There was just enough room for Brigitte to serve our portable cocktails and to kick back.
We used the mini fridge, sink and counter for placing everything from cheese to makeup brushes, to chips. The beds, as with all Hilton Hotel brands, were excellent. The pull out couch wasn’t “the best,” but sufficient (at least that’s what she told me). Embassy Suites certainly does meet the needs of most travelers seeking a fine place to recoup from a busy itinerary and that is just what it provided us.
I wanted to check out Keyways Winery before we left. The drive there, on DePortola Road, had us passing places with names like Oak Haven Farms, Rancho Pacifica, KD Acres, Hacienda de Pendar. The names alone should give you the picture. Vineyards, groves and stables canvassed the landscape.
Awesome looking villas and ranch houses to our right and left. Brigitte said she could picture herself in jeans and a big silver belt buckle sitting on a fence, we all could. That’s when I realized that Temecula was an ideal place for us to get away.
Not only did it represent a marvelous change of scenery, it spoke of possibility. Everyone we met was fulfilling a passion or dream and with that came a positive attitude that was infectious. Temecula makes for a mood! The place and its people embodied the idea of harvest.
Harvesting a Dream
And Keyways Winery was one more example of passionate people harvesting a dream. Keyways, as much a business of hospitality as wine making, is considered to be on the softer side of Temecula. General Manager Mimi Harlan explained several ways in which this idyllic winery is serving up both an experience and wine to its guest. There is the “Stinking Deal,” a Friday night, date night, wine, entertainment and dinner, for $15.
Sundays bring “Sangria Serenade,” acoustic music wafts through the vines, relax on the porch, terrace or amongst the groves. Independently owned by a woman, a Ms. Terri Pebley, Keyways has an unmistakable “female” romantic touch and attention to detail. Everything they had to offer their wine members and guest appealed to us gals immensely.
While Temecula has umpteen things to do and certainly takes more than a weekend to fully appreciate, Brigitte, Jody and I had found what we were looking for–a chance to enjoy each other in a location ripe with possibility and beauty.
Before you go –- dream ahead!
Visit the Temecula Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau. This comprehensive site is an invaluable resource for customizing and itinerary suited to your needs and wants. Below are a few suggestions to get you started in your
Spas –- perfect way to relax with just the girls
South Coast Winery Resort & Spa, Grapeseed Spa–quiet, personal and inviting.
Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa, expansive, with a tons of treatment options.
Pechanga Resort & Casino is California’s largest resort and casino, home to Spa Pechanga, which boast ten therapy rooms, a couple’s room and a full service salon.
Resorts Accommodations, Golf and Gaming –- a taste of Cali!
Temecula Creek Inn, offering a variety of creative packages for both the golf and wine enthusiast.
Both South Coast Winery Resort and Spa and Pechanga Resort mentioned above also feature deluxe accommodations. At Pechanga get both your golf and gambling game on!
Hotels, Inns, Bed-Breakfast and Wine
Embassy Suites, Temecula, perfect location for exploring the region. Many of the same perks as all extended stay Hilton brands.
La Quinta Inn & Suites, tasteful rooms, efficient service, good location.
Loma Vista, Wine Country B&B, one reviewer said, “The house is cozy and the atmosphere is relaxing. Carl and Connie are fantastic hosts. Carl will go out his way to ensure that you are comfortable.”
Inn At Churon Winery, Chateau-like stay, 5-course wine-paired dining on the weekends, romance abounds.
The Edge Restaurant and Lounge, adventure dining, inviting lounge.
Baily’s Old Town Temecula, seasonal menu, four-course price fixed dinner. Offers several dining and drinking options, from bar and grill to upscale dining.
Executive Chef, Sal Giuliano of the Temet Grill at Temecula Creek Inn creates exceptional dishes using local vineyards for his source of inspiration.
Old Town -– little shops on the board walk
Temecula Olive Oil Company, everything Olive-able.
Serendipity, 41950 Main Street
Old Town Antique Faire, 28601 Front Street (behind main street, but worth the effort)
Tours & Experiences
When really making a day of wine touring, consider having someone else do the driving.
Discover the story behind Temecula at Temecula Valley Museum. Presenting the history of the valley from the mid 1800’s to today in a fun and informative way.
Visit the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association’s website to see the vast array of tasting and tours available to you in Temecula. Be sure to check out upcoming events. Maybe something great like a “Barrel Tasting Weekend” is happening during your visit.
Keyways Winery, special events and activities throughout the year, exceptional wine club, fun for locals and tourists alike.
Longshadow Ranch Vineyard and Winery, traditional wine making from six generations, “Take a ride through the hills of the Temecula Valley wine country in one of our horse-drawn carriages.”
The Grapeline, Wine Country Shuttle, deluxe shuttle coaches with arranged itineraries.
California Dreamin, hot air balloon rides and biplane rides. A must to get a birds-eye view of Temecula.
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Cathie Arquilla is proud to be a veteran GoNOMAD writer. Both travel writer and fashion stylist, not only can Cathie tell us why to go, but what to wear! Happiest while experiencing a local scene, its grit or glamour, Cathie’s writing brings readers to a place and encourages them to go there too. She lives just outside of New York City. To find out more about this renaissance gal with dual careers visit her website.