When a friend suggested that we begin our wine tasting journey through Temecula at the South Coast Winery, I had no idea that we would also be dining in its award-winning restaurant, the Vineyard Rose. My crunchy grilled-cheese sandwich stuffed with delicate grilled portobello mushrooms was simply incredible, and it was accompanied by a small cup of spicy tomato soup that set it off to perfection. But I'm getting ahead of myself: We were in Temecula for the wine...
It all began with a free tasting, courtesy of my friend who is a member of the wine club. I tried about seven different whites and reds, including their fruity Romanza and their deliciously sweet Black Jack port wine (highly recommended), both of which I later purchased. My advice: Sip with chocolate.
After a brief stroll about the lovely grounds—full of blooming roses even in late November—it was time for lunch. Our beverage of choice: water! We had more wine tastings ahead of us, and one of us was driving.
South Coast Winery also offers spa services, a large gift shop, and gorgeous accommodations in its 76 private villas (from about $200 a night). Its tasting room is open seven days a week, from 10 am to 6 pm. Tastings are $15 each with discounts for wine-club members and their friends.
Winery tours are also offered daily, and if you stay as a guest they will happily arrange for a hot-air balloon ride, golf package, or romantic horse and carriage ride.
Is it wine-o-clock time yet? Better head back to Temecula.