Gotta love when your friend Kim Orlando from Traveling Mom calls and tells you she is going to be in Temecula for a few days and invites you to join her. I immediately started packing to head to one of my favorite places to visit: less than a 2-hour drive from Los Angeles to where there are beautiful mountains, warm air, and lots of wine tasting to spend your day.
We stayed at the Embassy Suites in Temecula. This hotel is located right off of the freeway, so it has easy access. The rooms are suites that each have a separate living room with a pull out sofa. They offer a complimentary breakfast with made-to-order omelets and also offer a wine and appetizer reception in the evening. The hotel has a laundry room, a nice pool, and an exercise room. They are in the process of a renovation right now, but it did not disturb my visit at all.
We started our adventure at Peltzer Cellars. This winery tasting room (known as the Crush House) was just built 4 weeks ago and it is stunning. It is a barn setting designed by Carrie, the farmer's wife, and you can tell she put a lot of thought into making it feel special. While at the winery, we enjoyed a variety of wines that were paired with different flavored breads. Very different, but oh so good. What was very interesting is that Denis, the owner, had us try the same wine in 2 different types of glasses. I was amazed to discover how different they tasted just based on the glass they were poured in. Peltzer is also known for their Peltzer Farm, where during Halloween they have a petting zoo, pig races, pumpkin patch, and more for the kids.
After Peltzer Farms we went to Wilson Creek Winery for wine tasting and lunch at Creekside Grill. We started out with the wonderful California Farmstead Cheese Tasting, accompanied with pine nut brittle and fig compote. Following the cheese plate, we enjoyed a refreshing arugula, Asian pear, and fall onion salad, in a maple mustard dressing. After our fulfilling lunch, we were given a tour of the winery by Gus, who is the winemaker, and we enjoyed a variety of Wilson Creek Wines in the Wine Tasting room.
For dinner that night we visited Palumbo's Ristorante in Old Town for a quaint Italian dinner. The calamari with jalapeno cream dip was very light and flavorful, the Caesar salad was very nice and had a great bite in the dressing, and the salmon Piccata Florentine was wonderful, as well. Palumbo's even has a children's menu with a nice selection of pasta dishes for $5.00 or less.
The next day we started our morning out with breakfast at E.A.T. Marketplace. E.A.T. stands for Extraordinary Artisan Table, and what a treat this restaurant was. We were invited to taste a selection of their gluten- and dairy-free donuts, such as the maple bacon donuts with pecans, and gluten-free, vegan donuts that included s'mores, strawberry, and mocha java. For breakfast I chose the Seasonal Frenchie Decadent Baked French Toast, which was heavenly. The owner, Leah Delyte Di Bernado, is a wonderful chef with a great personality, and even demonstrated a couple of easy dishes that we could make on our own. Check out Traveling Mom's Facebook page to see the video.
After breakfast we strolled down Front Street in Old Town Temecula, where we visited a variety of stores, which included Old Town Spice and Tea Merchants, which had an amazing assortment of teas, herbs, and salts. Can't wait to try my black truffle sea salt. We also visited the Old Town Sweet Shop, which has every candy imaginable: remember rolos, abba-zabba, $100,000 bar, pop rocks...so much fun reminiscing. They also make their own fudge, which is so smooth. A bit further down is the Temecula Olive Oil Company, where we were able to sample a variety of different olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Our last stop was Penny Pickles Workshop, Temecula's children's museum. This is such a great children's museum with many hands-on activities. Your kids will have fun spending hours exploring this museum.
After our journey exploring Front Street, we stopped at Public House for lunch. I enjoyed the wonderfully spiced broccolini brussels tossed in brown butter and lemon sumac, finished with balsamic drizzle and almonds. The A"Pear"antly Delicious Salad was so very refreshing with endive lettuce, mixed greens, diced bosc pear, and pomegranate seeds, tossed in a sweet pomegranate honey vinaigrette.
For dinner we visited Crush and Brew, located in Old Town, where I enjoyed oysters, crab cake, and a very different Caesar salad made with crispy Applewood smoked bacon, Grana Padano cheese, pine nuts, balsamic reduction, and a Caesar dressing. It was quite different from the typical Caesar, but very good. The drinks were also wonderful, as Roger created delicious drinks for us. My favorite was the Running Riot, made with house aged rum, Passionfruit, Pineapple, orange, and lemon. So refreshing.
The next morning we started out at Robert Renzoni Vineyards for wine tasting and lunch. There is a great restaurant located on the patio called Mama Rosa's Trattoria, which has the most amazing pizza made in a brick oven. They have ingredients flown in, and even have bread delivered from New Jersey. We also enjoyed the meat and cheese plate and the Insalata Fresca salad. We enjoyed a variety of the wines that we tasted. The tasting room is beautiful and has a very Italian feel.
We next visited Lorimar Vineywards and Winery. I am friends with the owner, Mark, and always enjoy visiting his winery. His wine is wonderful, and the staff is all so friendly. They have great shopping onsite, as well. Mark's passions are wine, art, and food...Lorimar Winery is a great place to go for all three. They have a very large outdoor patio where you can sit outside, eat, and listen to great live music.
We also visited the Temecula Valley Museum, which is a wonderful little museum in Old Town. The first floor has exhibits showcasing the history of Temecula, and the upstairs has a hands-on play area for kids, where they can do pretend play. They are also going to be building a new play structure/park right in front of the museum next year.
To end our visit, we went to 1909 for dinner, and had a wonderful White Pear Balsamic Salad, along with the crab and shrimp empanadas with a corn relish and chimichurri sauce and cotija cheese. It was very tasty. They are known for a drink called Smoked Old Fashioned, where they torch a plank and then put the glass over it to catch the smoke to give it that smoky flavor. It was fun to watch them make it. 1909 is a pet friendly restaurant and they even have a special menu for 4-legged friends, served in a recyclable disposable bowl.
Temecula has always been one of my favorite places to visit for the wine, food, sun, and music. Whether you go with your kids, friends, or partner, you are guaranteed to have a great time.
A big thank you to Visit Temecula for hosting our stay, and Kim Orlando from Traveling Mom for inviting me on this wonderful adventure.