There really is no other way I'd rather spend my birthday than to head to wine country. The closest to us, about and hour and a half away, is Temecula. You may remember I've written about Temecula wine country in the past, but I think it deserves revisiting after this last visit.
The truth is, by and large, the wines in Temecula aren't that good. It's a fun place for a costume bachelorette party in a Hummer limo, but not a place to buy a case of fine wine. Or so I thought until Patrick Comiskey from the Los Angeles Times took a better look at the area this past August and uncovered some gems. We thought it would be nice to go check it out again.
So we jumped on Ortega Highway and headed east through the Cleveland National Forest.
I highly recommend this drive to cut out a significant amount of travel time and avoid the Friday night commute through Riverside.
And it's not a bad view either.
We had dinner reservations that night for Meritage Restaurant, the hilltop restaurant at Callaway Vineyard and Winery. We loved their creative small plates menu and paired the Asparagus & Risotto Fritters and Tempura Calamari & Green Beans with Smoked Paprika with their nice Bella Blanc sparkling chardonnay.
We liked it so much, we went back for lunch the next day when our friend, Alex, joined us. The Black Forest Ham & Brie on a baguette with Caramelized Onion Jam kept us going through the whole day and into the night. Really good food, we loved both visits.
Thanks to Alex for getting some fun pictures of us and for sharing them.
Here's the tasting room at Callaway. Our server at the restaurant noted that this is not the mass market Callaway wine you find at the grocery store, their boutique wines are only available at the winery. I definitely recommend it for the photo ops.
I meant to get a picture of the winery we visited that Comiskey recommended, Wiens Family Cellars, but we had such a good time that I never took out my camera. So I'll tell you that we liked several of the wines there and bought a magnum of the Merrytage which we drank with Thanksgiving dinner. Our tasting room attendant was exceptionally friendly and knowledgable about their wines. It was wonderful.
We didn't get to any of the other recommended wineries because we were anxious to meet up with our friends at our favorite winery, Long Shadow Ranch. We're looking forward to trying out the other wineries on Comiskey's list and I'll report back on those too.
We whiled away another evening, sipping wine, listening to the band and catching up. It was exactly how I wanted to spend my birthday, I am very lucky.
We even got to sneak off into the vineyard for a cute picture thanks to Alex. And thanks to everyone else for an amazing birthday!