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Avensole Winery
Hosted Tour & Wine Tasting /Available on Sunday of each the month / 2pm-3:30pm / For every adventure, there is discovery, for every unique place, there is a story. Take a guided journey through our lush vineyards and experience our rich heritage and handcrafted Avensole wines / Cost. $35 / Reservations required. Please call 951.252.2003 x312 to reserve.

Gourmet Cheese Artisanal Tour & Wine Tasting / Available on Friday of each month / 12pm / For the ultimate Wine Country experience, delight in an educational tour through our picturesque vineyard vistas and conclude this tour with a culinary treat of artisanal wine pairings featuring 7 Avensole wines / Cost: $75 / Reservations required online at link: http://www.avensolewinery.com/res-369934

Baily Winery
Estate Library Tasting / Every Thursday-Sunday / Available 11am-4pm / Enjoy exclusive library tasting of 5 different vintages (varietal will vary monthly). Tasting will take place at Baily Estate Tasting Room located on Pauba Road / Tours are available upon request / For reservations and pricing information please call Lisa at 951-972-9768

Callaway Vineyard & Winery
Tree Lighting Celebration / December 14 / 5:00-9:00pm / Our Annual Barrel Tree Lighting Celebration is just around the corner! Bring the kids and family to meet Santa and enjoy cookie decorating, a hot chocolate bar, Christmas Carolers, discounts on wine, gifts and so much more! Come experience the magic of Christmas in wine country at Callaway Winery! /R.S.V.P. to (951) 676-4001. Free Admission.

Prix Fixe Friday & Sunday at Meritage / 5pm to 8pm / For $35 guests may enjoy a starter, an entrée and a dessert / Live Music offered on Friday nights / Reservation is not necessary. For menu information call 951.587.8889

Brunch Specials every Sunday at Meritage / 11am / Cost is $25 / Includes a mimosa with fresh squeezed orange juice, entrée and dessert. All food from Meritage is farm-to-table, either grown on property in restaurant garden or locally outsourced.

Callaway Winery Tours offered daily / 11am and 1pm / Tour only, $10 per person. Tour with tasting, $25 – tour includes 1 tank sample, 1-barrel sample and 4 additional tastes at the Tasting Bar / Reservations not necessary, but for 10 or more highly recommended / For more information call 951.676.4001

Carter Estate Winery and Resort
Elegant Food & Wine Pairing / $45pp; $40pp Wine Club Member / 1pm & 3pm Monday-Sunday / Reserve your place for an indulgent wine and food pairing designed to tantalize the senses. Guests enjoy five specially selected Carter Estate Winery wines paired perfectly with a variety of cured meats, artisan cheeses and accompanied with seasonal accoutrements. Each pairing lasts approximately 90 minutes and is limited to just eight participants to allow for one-on-one interaction / Reservations recommended – Book a pairing on CarterEstateWinery.com

Falkner Winery
Wine Appreciation Class / December 15 / 10am -12:30pm / Designated for all levels of wine knowledge; $45/person /$40 Connoisseur/ $20 VIP; $70/person with lunch option. RSVP’s required 951-676-8231 x.109 or wineclub@falknerwinery.com

Sip N Paint Class “Personalized Ornaments” / December 20 / 6pm-8pm / $35 per person; $30 for members / Includes all materials. Wines available for purchase by glass or bottle.  Members do receive applicable discounts / Reservations are required online @Artfusionbdk.myshopify.com

Fazelli Cellars
Salsa Night
/ December 21 / Doors Open at 6:30 with 45-minute Salsa Lesson / No partner or experience needed! Admission fee is $20 for non-members (plus tax) and $15 (plus tax) for wine club members includes a glass of Sangria / Special Food Menu Items! Wine, Beer, Sangria available for purchase! /Purchase Tickets Here: http://shop.fazelicellars.com/res-390887/Salsa-Night-111618.html

New Year’s Eve Party “An Evening in Casablanca” / December 31 /$120 Non-Members | $100 Members / Includes: Champagne Greeting, 3 Course Dinner & Live Music, DJ, Dancing, Casino and a Champagne Toast at Midnight. Wine & Beer Available for purchase / Purchase Tickets Here: http://shop.fazelicellars.com/res-390943/New-Years-Eve-2018.html

Leoness Cellars
Winemaker Dinner / December 6 / 6:00pm – 10:00pm / $95 Members; $115 Non-Members, plus tax / VIP seating with owners, Mike and Lisa Rennie, in the Winder Room. $150 plus tax, no discounts. Only 16 seats available Enjoy a four course, wine-paired Winemaker’s Dinner hosted by Leoness Cellars winemaker, Tim Kramer and Executive Chef, Daragh Matheson. Sparkling wine reception under the Oak Tree and dinner following in The Restaurant at Leoness / Seating is limited / Reservations and tickets available by calling (951) 302-7601 ext.2

Lorimar Vineyard & Winery
Tree Lighting / December 2 / 5pm – 8pm / Kick off the holiday season off at Lorimar Winery with Santa, Cookies, and more! Free to enjoy but RSVP is requested by visiting us at https://shop.lorimarwinery.com/res-408801/Tree-Lighting.html

Smoke & Vine: An Evening of Cigars and Wine / December 7 / 7:00p / Tickets: $85.00 ($76.50 Wine Club) Join us for a relaxing evening on the Vineyard Lawn; including four course dinner from Chef Jorge, paired with cigars from Casa Lovo, and Lorimar award-winning wines / For reservations please go to: https://shop.lorimarwinery.com/res-408695/Smoke-Vine-An-Evening-Of-Cigars-And-Wine.html

Hanukkah / December 9 / 5pm – 8pm / Celebrate Hanukkah at Lorimar Winery with a Menorah Lighting, Latkes, and more! / Free to enjoy but RSVP is requested by visiting us at https://shop.lorimarwinery.com/res-408802/Hanukkah.html

Sunday Brunch Buffet / Every Sunday 11am –3 pm / $35 Adult / $31.50 WC / $15 (Ages 4-12) / Brunch includes one mimosa or glass of beer for ages 21+ / To Make a Reservation – https://shop.lorimarwinery.com/res-408083/Sunday-Brunch.html

Mount Palomar Winery
Paint Nite at Mount Palomar Winery / December 2, 9, 15 / 1:00p-3:00p / Tickets $45; Use the coupon code CREATE30 to save $15! / Raise your glass to a NEW kind of night out! Paint Nite® invites you to create art over a glass of wine at a Mount Palomar Winery, guided by a professional artist and party host. Grab your friends and spend two hours drinking, laughing, and flexing your creative muscles. There’s no experience necessary and we’ll provide all the supplies, so you don’t have to worry about a thing (except having a great time!) / For reservations: https://www.paintnite.com/venues/mt-palomar-winery-133232

Peltzer Family Cellars
Peltzer Ice Rink / Open daily now through January 6th / 3pm-9pm / Ice Rink Bar Open Friday through Sunday 4-8:40pm / The farm is freezing over, y’all! For the first time ever Peltzer Farms will be featuring a full on Ice Rink! Ice Rink will be closed if it’s raining, for safety reasons. Ice Rink may be closed on specific dates based on private events. Admission (includes a pair of skates) General Admission $15; Kids 5 and under (with paid general admission) $11; Crush Club (wine club) members get $2 off admission prices. Admission (if you bring your own skates) General Admission $13; Kids 5 and under (with paid general admission) $9.

Ponte Winery
Happy Hour in The Cellar Lounge at Ponte Vineyard Inn / Every Monday-Thursday / 4pm-6pm / Free to attend / Head to Temecula Wine Country’s only cocktail bar, The Cellar Lounge at Ponte Vineyard Inn, for happy hour specials on craft beer, flatbreads, Ponte wine on tap and more! Menu items $6 and up / For more information please visit www.pontevineyardinn.com

Brunch at Bouquet Restaurant / Every Saturday & Sunday / 7:30am-3:00pm / Offering indoor & outdoor seating options, Bouquet is the perfect spot to gather for a gourmet brunch. Enjoy a relaxing ambiance with stunning fountain courtyard, pond & vineyards views / To view menu and for reservations please visit www.pontevineyardinn.com.

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa
Christmas at The Vineyard Rose / December 24th – Tuesday, December 25th / Brunch: 8:00am – 3:30pm | Dinner: 5:00pm – 9:00pm /Celebrate Christmas at The Vineyard Rose Restaurant with Christmas Day brunch and Christmas Eve & Christmas Day dinner / Reservations are required. Make a reservation at SouthCoastWinery.com

Harmonizing Hatha at the Grapeseed Spa / Every Mondays & Wednesdays / 9:00am – 10:00am This unique class enables you to find balance of body and mind. With gentle stretching, focused breathing and meditation, your instructor will take you on a journey through your personal chakras resulting in a mind and body that are more fluid and at ease / 4 people or more | $35 per person, 3 people or less | $65 per person / Spa Members | $16 per person / Reservation Information: Call 877.552.1731 to book your class.

Behind the Scenes Wine Tours / Tours are held daily at 11 AM, 1 PM and 3PM, Monday through Sunday/ $45pp; $40pp Wine Club Member or Military / Learn more about our spectacular Southern California Temecula winery with a behind-the-scenes wine tour, from vineyards to crush pad. Each tour concludes with 5 wines paired with an individual plate of specially prepared lite-bite foods, designed to enhance your wine knowledge and experience / Reservation Information: Call 866-994-6379 Ext. 7217 to reserve your spot today / Due to the limited sizes of each tour, reservations are required with prepayment, and are non-refundable. Guests must be over 21 years of age to attend.

Wiens Family Cellars

New Year’s Eve 2018 Celebration / December 31 / 7pm-12:30am / $125 per guest / Join us this New Year’s Eve for our NYE dinner party! Enjoy a seated dinner followed by hours of DJ dancing to send the year 2018 off in style / For reservations please visit http://www.wienscellars.com/res-411819/New-Years-Eve-Celebration-2018.html

Wilson Creek Winery

New Year’s Eve Party / December 31 / 8 pm – 12:30 am/ Price: $150 / Wine Club $135 / Enjoy a 3-course food and wine-paired dinner with live music, a Dance Party with DJ, and a Late-Night Dessert Bar! Party Favors and an All-Night Bar included! Plan your last night of 2018, today!  / Purchase tickets: https://shop.wilsoncreekwinery.com/RESERVE.AMS

Bubble Brunch Buffet / Every Sunday 10am-3pm / $51.95, Buffet only: $41.95, Children: $16.95 / Enjoy all your breakfast favorites, omelet stations, waffle stations, seafood stations, carving stations and dessert stations with beautiful vineyard views / Buffet (+ unlimited sparkling). Now serving Bloody Mary’s! / Reservations can be made at www.wilsoncreekwinery.com or call 951.699.9463 for additional information.

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As the holiday season approaches, wine lovers will be searching for wines that complement holiday dinners and can please a wide array of palates. Whether it’s a small gathering or a large soiree, Temecula Valley sparkling wines offer something for every wine personality. Sparkling wines are ideal for special occasions, and as the holidays approach, we’ve asked our winemakers which are their favorites that will work well for holiday entertaining and gift-giving.

Thornton Non-Vintage Brut

A blend of primarily Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which gives the wine an exciting, crisp fruit character while taking on a clean and straight forward yeast flavor from the lengthy tirage time of 28 months using the méthode champenoise process. The addition of a small amount of Pinot Noir helps to round out the wine, giving it complexity and uniting the white varietals. The Thornton NV Brut has a lot of finesse along with apple, pear and tropical aromas, which meld with toasty yeast flavors, while the finish is long and creamy. $33 Bottle

South Coast Winery Sparkling Pinot Grigio

This sparkling Pinot Grigio is worlds apart from what is normally expected with this style of dry white wine. Finished as a “Brut” this is a Pinot Grigio with wonderful nuances of pears and apples, a touch of tropical fruitiness and crisp acidity. “Whenever toasting a special occasion, serve this wonderful sparkler and let the good times roll!” says winemaker Jon McPherson. $24 Bottle

Carter Estate 2014 Blanc de Blanc Sparkling

This product has been painstakingly nurtured to deliver a sparkling wine with the finesse, flavor and aroma of a fine méthode champenoise sparkling wine. The process included barrel fermentation and barrel aging of approximately 8% of the cuvee prior to the secondary fermentation. Once the Blanc de Blanc had been blended and undergone secondary fermentation, it was aged for an additional fifteen months on the yeast lees. This time on the yeast lees helped to develop the yeasty, toasty aromas, a very fine bubble bead, wonderfully full creamy textures and an extraordinary mousse. The bottle is brimming with fresh apple and delicate floral aromas; a hint of oak shows in the background with a nuance of vanilla, toasty cookie and a rich yeasty character. This wine has a very bright acidity and a refreshingly dry finish. “Definitely our finest sparkling release to date,” states winemaker Jon McPherson. $34 Bottle

Cougar Dolce

100% Estate Malvasia Bianca sparkling wine. Sweet, Muscat-like with notes of apricot, peaches and honey, for the taste buds that like more of a dessert flavor.

Though Temecula Valley wines can be ordered through the wineries’ online stores and shipped to most states, what better excuse to visit the destination and try the wines onsite. Temecula Valley is conveniently located in the center of Southern California, just an hour drive from San Diego, Palm Springs and Orange County and 90 minutes from Los Angeles. Many winery restaurants offer special holiday dining menus that pair wonderfully with their holiday wines. Resort, hotel, bed and breakfast inns and vacation rentals offer special packages and pricing for Sunday through Thursday stays.

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This savory, custardy bread pudding makes an irresistible side dish for roast chicken, but it may well become a new tradition at your Thanksgiving table. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Pinot Noir or Chardonnay.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ pound (250 g) wild mushrooms such as crimini or oyster, sliced or quartered
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ large yellow onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoons dried herbes de Provence
½ pound (250 g) focaccia, 1 to 2 days old, in 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes
¼ pound (125 g) fresh goat cheese with no rind
4 large eggs, beaten
2 cups (16 fl oz/500 ml) whole milk

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C). Using 1 teaspoon butter, grease the bottom and sides of a 2-quart (2-l) baking dish. An oval baking dish measuring about 13- by 8- by 1-1/2-inches (33 by 20 by 4 cm) works well.

Heat 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms. Do not stir for 30 seconds to allow the mushrooms to sear on one side. Then season with salt and pepper and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are nicely browned and tender, about 3 minutes, adjusting the heat if necessary to prevent scorching. Set aside on a plate.

Let the skillet cool slightly, then add the remaining 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil and return to medium-low heat. Add the onion, garlic, and herbes de Provence. Sauté until the onion is soft, 5 to 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the focaccia, mushrooms, and sautéed onions and garlic. Add the goat cheese in small clumps. Toss gently with a spatula.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, 1 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Pour over the bread mixture and stir gently with a rubber spatula. Let stand for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice, so the bread absorbs some of the liquid.

Transfer to the prepared baking dish and dot the surface with the remaining 1 teaspoon butter. Bake until puffed, nicely colored on top, and firm to the touch, about 35 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.

Suggested Pairings: 

Danza Del Sol Winery 2016 Reserve Chardonnay ~ Aromas of apple and pear with accompanying flavors of tropical pineapple and guava.

Oak Mountain Winery 2017 Chardonnay ~ This chardonnay is lightly oaked with French oak imparting rich flavors of vanilla, butterscotch, creme brulee and caramel.

Wiens Family Cellars 2015 Reserve Pinot Noir ~ Flavors of toasted oak, ripe raspberry, and cinnamon.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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New Zealand and Sauvignon Blanc. Oregon and Pinot Noir. Napa and Cabernet Sauvignon. Argentina and Malbec. Like bread and butter, all famous wine regions seem to have a famous grape counterpart.

In Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country, there’s often a hearty debate about what grape the region should be known for. Its Syrahs have received countless awards. But Temecula Valley Sangiovese is top-scoring as well. And what about the luscious, beautifully floral Viognier that so many wineries are famous for? Or the bright, savory sleeper of the Valley, Cabernet Franc?

This isn’t because Temecula Valley winemakers can’t make up their minds! This diversity is a result of a Mediterranean climate that is well-suited to grow a wide range of grapes, and, more importantly, a culture among winemakers to experiment with new grape varieties.

Visitors to the region delight in the immense diversity of offerings, as there truly is something for every type of wine enthusiast. From Arneis to Zinfandel and everything in between, let’s take a look at some of the key grape players that have put Temecula Valley on the global wine map.

Arneis – A little-known grape from Northern Italy, Arneis also shines in Temecula Valley. Here, it expresses itself with notes of peach, apricot and almond, with floral notes and bright acidity. Check out Arneis from Hart Family Winery.

Barbera – A versatile, food-friendly grape from Northern Italy as well, this variety shows amazing promise in Temecula Valley. Southern California Barbera offers rich fruit and wonderful structure. Try Barbera from Europa Village.

Cabernet Franc – This grape is normally a blending variety in Bordeaux, but we are seeing it more and more as a single varietal, especially in Temecula. Baily Winery does an impressive vertical tasting of 6-8 vintages of Temecula Valley Cabernet Franc, showing the strength and longevity of this variety.

Falanghina – This ancient variety from Campania in Southern Italy is simply magical in the hands of Cougar Winery.

Grenache – Often found in blends from France’s Rhone Valley, or throughout Spain, where it is known as Garnacha, Temecula Valley winemakers play with this grape often, either on its own or in blends. Check out Temecula’s 50th Anniversary Commemorative Wine – a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre.

Mourvedre – Again, often a blending grape, this variety shows great promise on its own in Temecula  Valley, boasting notes of cooked fruit and spice and impressive body. Visit Wiens Family Cellars for a taste.

Montepulciano – Another Italian variety that just sings in Temecula Valley, bursting with fruit, sweet spice and delightful acidity. Robert Renzoni Vineyards’ Winemaker, Olivia Bue, has brought out the best in this grape.

Petite Sirah – This grape – known for its intense color, and bold flavors of black fruits, chocolate and spice – may have originated in France, but it was born to be grown in Temecula Valley. Wilson Creek makes a particularly noteworthy bottling, which also won the 2016 People’s Choice award.

Pinot Grigio/Gris – Very few wine regions in the world don’t grow at least some Pinot Grigio, and there is a wide range of different styles of this wine, from light and fruity to complex and age worthy. In Temecula, the wines are fuller in body, with crisp acidity and ripe fruit notes.  For a real treat, and a fun alternative to your everyday Prosecco, try South Coast Winery’s sparkling Pinot Grigio.

Roussanne – This Rhone Valley Grape, often blended with Marsanne and Viognier, can be quite interesting on its own if handled properly. Sip on Oak Mountain’s Temecula Hills Roussanne for a taste of this variety.

Sangiovese – One of Italy’s signature grapes, Sangiovese could very well have been born in Temecula Valley. Most winemakers in the region bottle this versatile variety, in a wide range of styles. Be sure to visit Robert Renzoni Vineyards for a spectacular lineup.

Syrah – Another grape that is emerging as a king of Southern California wine country is Syrah and the climate in Temecula Valley is perfect for it. Try any of Leoness Cellars’ offerings to get a sense of the true potential of this variety.

Tempranillo – This Spanish variety does very well in Temecula Valley, both blended and on its own. Try one from Danza del Sol Winery.

Viognier – A full-bodied, perfumed variety from Southern France, Viognier is widely found in Temecula Valley, where it finds powerful expression. Doffo Winery’s Concrete-Fermented Viognier is a must when exploring this variety.

Zinfandel – While this grape originated in Croatia, many think of it as the quintessential American variety. In Temecula Valley, it is rich and juicy but the region’s winemakers have shown some restraint in crafting it, preserving bright acidity and structure in most bottlings. Van Roekel Estate’s Zinfandel from some of the region’s oldest vineyards is a stunning example.

Call us selfish but with so many delicious grape varieties to choose from in Temecula Valley, why should anyone have to choose just one?

To find out more about these and other wineries in Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country, visit www.temeculawines.org.

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“It’s too hot to grow wine grapes in Southern California.”

We hear this a lot out in Temecula Valley. Every time we do, we smile to ourselves as it’s an open invitation to explain why this wine region is not only perfect for vacationers, but for producing world-class wines as well.

Picture your ideal vacation. Does the image of waking up to a beautiful sunrise that warms the air just enough that you can enjoy coffee out on your balcony or get in a quick morning run in slightly crisp air with no sticky humidity sound about right?

Does sitting on a patio enjoying a Southern California lunch in 72-degree weather, sun shining, not a cloud in the sky in mid-November while your friends back home are kicking muddy slush from an early snowfall off their boots before getting into their cars on a grey and dreary day sound appealing?

Imagine yourself in a luxurious king-sized bed at your hotel after a fun and sun-filled day of wine tasting, hiking or shopping, all windows open to allow in the cool night breezes to lull you to sleep.

This is vacationing in Temecula Valley, all year round. It also describes key aspects that make this region suitable for growing wine grapes.

A Mediterranean Climate is generally classified as having a long growing season (early Spring to late Fall) of moderate to warm temperatures, moderate winters and relatively low rainfall. Since regions of Mediterranean climate are influenced by cold ocean currents during the Summer months, the weather during this time is dry, stable and pleasant with strong diurnal shifts. This means that, while the days are warm and sunny, the nights cool down quickly. These regions receive most of their precipitation for the year during the Winter months.

Major wine producing regions with Mediterranean climates include Tuscany and parts of Southern Italy, the Southern Rhone Valley, Provence, most of Greece, many parts of Spain, Southern Oregon, Baja California, the Napa Valley and, of course, Temecula Valley. These are many of the regions we think of when we think of premium wines and dream travel experiences.

What makes Temecula Valley at home among these well-known wine regions is that it boasts long, sunny days that allow wine grapes to ripen and develop the sugars that will ultimately turn the grapes into wine. However, the region is home to significant maritime influence as well. Just 22-miles from the Pacific Ocean, Temecula Valley is bordered by coastal mountain ranges and inland valleys. As the sun warms the inland valleys east of Temecula, the warm air rises, forming a low-pressure area which pulls the cooler, much heavier air from the Pacific Ocean in through two breaks in the mountains — The Rainbow Gap and the Santa Margarita Gap. This cool air creates the pattern of warm sunny days, breezy afternoons and cool nights, ideal conditions for the wine grapes to develop complex flavors and aromas, while retaining pleasant balance and freshness from desirable acidity levels.

Think about it: Virtually year-round sunshine and warm or moderate temperatures, cool nights, relatively little rainfall, not to mention high quality wines, unique wine-tasting experiences, and the relaxed, welcoming vibe that is synonymous with Southern California. Whether you’re a wine enthusiast or just looking for a dream vacation, Temecula Valley should be added to your list of top wine destinations to visit.

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