Ask most area residents to name their favorite beverage and they are likely to rhapsodize on about wine – a sassy Viognier or silky Syrah – grown and produced in Temecula wine country.
With that said, loving wine is not a prerequisite for residence, of course, and many wineries have responded with options for those who — gasp! — don’t drink wine.
In the spirit of “the more the merrier,” wine lovers will be happy to offer the following suggestions to their non-wine friends the next time they head out to Temecula wine country:
- Ponte Family Estate Winery — Located in basement of the Inn at Ponte, the The Cellar Lounge offers guests a full cocktail bar, in addition to the cellar of Ponte wines. Currently the only venue in wine country to offer a full bar, it has become a popular destination for locals and hotel guests alike. Wine lovers should try the international award-winning Vermentino or popular red blend, Super T.
- Oak Mountain Winery — Overlooking the De Portola trail, Oak Mountain boasts sweeping views, a dog friendly patio and fun tasting room. In addition, they offer a margarita bar featuring fresh strawberry and mango flavors for guests to enjoy. Wine lovers should try Temecula Hills 2010 Estate Counois which garnered rave reviews at the recent Rhone Shootout.
- Callaway Vineyard & Winery — Those willing to tear themselves away from Callaway’s expansive new tasting room and even more impressive 3rd floor deck called Vu will find a variety of micro-brewed beers and sakes at Meritage Restaurant. Rolling vineyard views and inventive cuisine provide added incentive to sit and stay awhile. Wine lovers should try the 2011 Special Selection Rosé of Sangiovese which earned a Double Gold medal at the 2012 Tasters Guild Wine Competition.
- Wilson Creek Vineyard & Winery — Along with a complete wine list, Wilson Creek offers a variety of specialty drinks, mostly based on their popular Almond Champagne. Drinks include a martini, slushy and other fun variations on the theme. Wine lovers should try the Gold Medal award-winning Sparkling Rouge Cuvee, Angelica Cream Sherry or 2009 Double Dog Red.
- Masia de Yabar – One of the younger wineries on the De Portola trail, Masia de Yabar brings old world charm to the Temecula Valley. Spanish Sangria with a Peruvian flair is offered every Saturday and Sunday along with live music on Saturdays from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., transporting guests to a Spanish countryside. Wine lovers should try the Malbec, produced from Vinas de Yabar in Argentina.
- Thornton Winery – Although famous for its Méthode Champenoise Sparkling Wine and for being home to the Champagne Jazz Series, Thornton Winery offers a variety of non-wine options at their restaurant Café Champagne. Along with niche beers like Chimay, Mission Blond Ale and Stone Arrogant Bastard, Café Champagne features a variety of wine-based cocktails to suit any taste. Those seeking rum, tequila or vodka inspired drinks will scarcely detect the difference. Wine lovers should try the 2004 Brut Reserve or the 2010 Estate Syrah.
- Miramonte Winery — As part of its recent expansion and remodel, Miramonte eagerly anticipates the installation of a Five Star tap system, custom designed to dispense both wine and beer. Owner Cane Vanderhoof is hopeful both will be on tap within the next couple of months. In the meantime, guests can enjoy a variety of bottled San Diego microbrews anchored by Stone Brewing Company beers. Wine lovers should try the 2007 Bin #33410 Red or 2010 Grenache Rosé.
Although the wine experience is the heartbeat of the Temecula wine country, the region is wisely offering a variety of options for locals and visitors to enjoy, becoming a destination where guests of all tastes and preferences feel welcome.
Corie Maue is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.