Temecula – The Big Three

Wilson Creek Winery and Vineyards

Wilson Creek is one of my favorite spots if you want a little bubbly and a great place to kick off your day wine tasting! They have eleven different flavors of sparkling wine to choose from but they are known for their Almond Champagne (trust me you won’t be disappointed). When you do a tasting make sure you try the chocolate shot cup, it’s $5 more but one million percent worth it. They take a dark chocolate shot glass (that you eat at the end!) and fill it with Decadencia chocolate wine. You will then you drink it half way down and they’ll top it with their Almond Champagne, once you finish drinking this delicious concoction you bite into the chocolate cup and enjoy. I’m drooling just thinking about it! The service there is quick and the staff knowledgeable . John is by far my favorite behind the bar, make sure you give him a visit if you go and say we sent you! On top of having delicious sparkling wines they have three 90+ point wines and a whole menu of great options to choose from for tastings. A tasting there runs $20/pp Monday through Friday and $25/pp on the weekends with walk ins welcome. I would HIGHLY recommend doing a tasting there during the week as the weekends can get extremely busy and crowded which could take away from the wonderful experience I know you will have.

This winery also has a wonderful outside area with loads of seating that are on a first come first serve basis. They have a food stand that you can order lite bites as well as alcoholic slushies (super refreshing on a hot day and scrumptious to boot). Creekside Grill is their restaurant, if you are looking for something with a little more substance to fill your belly give them a try. I have tasted a bunch of different items off the menu and I can honestly say you can’t go wrong with a single thing there (I love the pork belly sandwich). One thing I have to point out about their restaurant is that they’re known for their weekend brunch which is buffet style and for only $10 more you can get endless bubbly!

If you’re looking for a place to stay and you have a large group they have their Wilson Creek Manor available to rent out. It’s a 12,000 square foot retreat that sleeps 24 with a full kitchen, outside barbecue area, basketball court, pool and jacuzzi. It’s definitely not a place for just a couple to stay but if you have a large group that you’d like to keep together it’s a great place to consider!

This winery is also very family friendly, you will see a bunch of little ones running around in the grassy areas and a bocce ball area next to the restaurant.

Ponte Winery

This was the second winery I have ever visited and to this day I dream about the baked pear dessert I ordered… more about that later. Out of the big three this winery is my favorite, I haven’t tried a single wine or food item that I didn’t like here. If you’re planning out your day make this your stop to have lunch. The Restaurant at Ponte is only open for lunch and the walk in wait times can run upwards of 2 hours so I highly recommend making a dining reservation before you visit. The menu is all farm fresh ingredients offering salads, sandwiches, pasta and pizza options. Do not and I can not stress this enough DO. NOT. SKIMP. OUT. ON. DESSERT. because they have the absolute best desserts out of any winery in the valley.

Ponte’s tastings are pretty standard where you pick 6 wines to try and normally they’ll give you a bonus try at the end of your favorite one from the bunch. The tastings run $20/per person during the week and $25/per person on the weekends and holidays and walk ins are welcome for their regular tastings. If you schedule an appointment they offer you a wine tasting tour and experience that lasts about two hours long and will run you $85/per person. This tour is super cool because they’ll let you taste straight from the tanks or casks and at the end of the tour you’ll be driven back to the tasting room for a wine and cheese pairing.

Ponte Vineyard Inn is the hotel on the property, the hotel is your standard tower hotel style. The views offered from the room are beautiful with the grape vines and perfectly landscaped property. The rooms vary in size depending on the type that you book ranging from 385 sq/ft to 1,360 sq/ft. During your stay you will have access to their semi-Olympic sized pool and hot tub and four restaurants. One of the restaurants is called The Cellar and it has a really cool wine bar vibe with delicious signature cocktails. I highly recommend giving The Cellar a try during one of your nights in Temecula even if you are not staying on their property. Their hotel offers some great deals and packages but the coolest one I’ve seen is their wine blending experience at their sister winery Bottaia (which is just next door). You get to blend four different red wines together making three different blends and then pick your favorite to bottle and take home that same day!

Ponte has two sister wineries, Bottaia (more upscale with a focus on Italian varietals, reservations recommended) and Hawks View which is located up in Oregon…I definitely recommend giving them a try as well!

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa

This is by far my favorite place to stay and spa in Temecula. The night before my wedding I stayed in one of the Villa’s at the resort. The room was beautiful and spacious, the service astounding and view in the morning was absolutely incredible. When I woke up and ordered breakfast (yogurt with fresh berries… honestly I don’t know how they made that taste like the best breakfast I ever had but it must have been that wildflower honey, mmmmmm) I went out on the patio to eat it and the view of the vines with hot air balloons over head was breathtaking, it honestly felt like I was on a movie set, it was simple perfection. Now I know the hot air balloons don’t go up every single day, but if you’re lucky enough this could be your view too!

Breath taking view in the morning from the Villa

The Grapeseed is their spa, again a must try. I’ve done a few of their services but I personally love the couple massages and hot stone massages they offer. The staff is super friendly and accommodating letting us switch details of our reservation without any fuss. When you get a treatment at the spa (even if you’re not a guest at the resort) they give you access to all of their facilities for the day. I personally love to lounge by the pool and get into the hot tub with a nice glass (or bottle) of their wine.

The tasting room of the winery is beautifully rustic. They have scenic murals painted on the walls and two long tasting bars. This winery is walk in friendly but it does get very busy on the weekends. I will note that I have never had an issue getting prompt service or finding a cocktail table to plant our party if the bar feels too busy. They have a vast tasting menu which is sure to please anyone’s palette. For their sparkling I personally love their Ruby Cuvee and Spumante (and I know what you’re going to think but! When you mix the two of them together, its magic). Their Group Therapy is a red blend that is delicious and won Silver in the 2019 San Francisco International Wine Competition and another red I would recommend is their Wild Horse Peak Cabernet, it’s placed in four 2019 wine competitions taking gold in two of them and receiving 90 point rating. The tasting prices depend on what experience you are looking for and range from $18 – $22/ per person.

Vineyard Rose Restaurant is located right next to their tasting room and offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have a wide variety of options on their menu sure to satisfy everyone in your group. The weekends they do not offer breakfast or lunch but rather a brunch experience which is absolutely delicious. The dinner menu is more fine dining and the tab can run up quick, however, I don’t find anything to be absurdly expensive and you can pick the experience you would like making the dinner affordable.

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