It has been years since I’d been tasting in Temecula (I’m embarrassed to say how long), but last Saturday Scott, Matt, and I drove down the I-5 for what we thought would be a well-planned day. We’d done a little research and decided on two large and two small wineries. We would stop in Old Town Temecula, pick up some sandwiches, and picnic at one of our stops.
The best thing about a good plan is that you can throw it out the window and still not veer too far off course. Old Town was packed. All we saw of it was the car in front of us. Though it was only 11am and our first stop was at noon, we knew we had to exit, stage left, as quick as possible. We headed for Briar Rose Temecula Winery, stop number one, for our 12pm appointment. A residential neighborhood has grown up around the winery, so reservations for tasting are required.
They were able to accommodate us though we were half an hour early. We bought some cheese and crackers from their fridge and found a shaded table outside. Briar Rose has the most unique appearance of any winery I’ve seen. The original owner and builder was Beldon Fields, a former Disney Imagineer who worked on Fantasyland and Toon Town. The estate was built to resemble Snow White style cottages and, like all fairy tales, is enchanting.
Their wines are sweet and they’re proud of it. “Mission” is a sweet, almost dessert, wine, made from the Heritage grape. It’s delicious, with a clean finish, not syrupy, and would be lovely with fruit.
We went to Leoness Cellars for lunch. It has a large, outdoor restaurant and is famous for their French fries. Perfectly salted and shared as an appetizer with half a caesar salad, we felt more than satisfied. Matt and I each had a glass of sparkling wine and Scott tried the Chardonnay. Both were delightful with the fries.
We ducked into the tasting room on the way out. It’s also large, with beamed ceilings and lots of merchandise. It seemed more suitable to shopping than tasting. We were ready for something a little more intimate, so off we went to Hart Winery, a family owned enterprise. It was just what we were looking for.