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Temecula: Wine Country and more

Thursday, January 28, 2016 9:00 PM

Temecula has more than 40 wineries, only an hour or so away from San Diego, Orange County, L.A. and Palm Springs. I recently visited two, each with their own resort.

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa, www.southcoastwinery.com, is situated in the middle of a 38 acre vineyard. We stayed in a stylish, richly appointed suite/villa overlooking the grape arbors, with the San Jacinto Mountains in the background. Keeping active is easy with walking paths, heated saltwater pool, fitness center, the award winning GrapeSeed Spa, wine tours and tastings.

The resort's Vineyard Rose Restaurant was voted "best" by the readers of Inland Empire Magazine and has been a Wine Spectator winner since 2010. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, featuring a farm-to-table menu and, as you can imagine, an extensive wine list. There is a daily happy hour, as well as Monday and Wednesday wine specials.

Across the road, the 109-acre Carter Estate Winery & Resort features 42 luxurious Vineyard Bungalows. Environmental best practices are taken seriously, including use of electricity reduction devices, water conservation policies and drought tolerant landscaping. Carter Estate Winery, www.carterestatewiner.com, is one of only 57 that has earned a Certified California Sustainable Winery title.
There is a limited poolside menu, but guests can savor dining served on their villa's private patio overlooking the vineyards. Shuttles are also available to take patrons to the Vineyard Rose Restaurant.

Clearly, both resorts have a strong commitment to provide guests with a first-class experience.

Resort travel notes
These are wineries ... buy tasting tickets and tour the vineyards. The professionals in both tasting rooms are knowledgeable and are able to describe the complexities of what they pour. Consider joining their wine clubs; discounts, specials and perks are all part of the programs.
Both properties offer free parking and Wi-Fi and are naturals for group getaways and weddings.

Temecula's Old Town: Stroll and explore. Drop into Old Town Spice & Tea Merchants (www.spiceandteamerchants.com). Silver Fever offers a selection of handcrafted jewelry and gifts (www.silverfever.com). Crush & Brew originally opened as a collective for local vineyards without tasting rooms. It now offers eclectic food, as well as an array of local crafted wine and beer (www.crushnbrew.com). The Temecula Valley Museum (www.temeculavalleymuseum.org) shares the history and culture of the area and it's free. Drop by the Visitor Center for maps, coupons, etc.

There are special events in Temecula throughout the year. On Feb. 26 & 27, the Chocolate Decadence and Wine Festival will be at Pechanga Resort & Casino. For more information, logon to www.pechanga.com. Fact: It is the largest casino in the western U.S.

Enjoy Temecula and plan on staying more than a day. Local information and events can be found atwww.VisitTemeculaValley.com or www.TemeculaWines.org.
Safe travels and enjoy the journey...

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