Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Temecula-The Other Wine Tour-Part 1

When people think California + Wine, they instantly think Napa Valley. Napa Valley however is an eight and a half hour drive from San Diego.  Still, we couldn't leave California without experiencing a wine tour, thus we discovered Temecula Valley. 

 Temecula Valley Jeep and Wine Tours'  red jeep arrived at Baron's Market at exactly 10 am.  Our tour guide Julie introduced herself. We liked her instantly. She was friendly, fashionable, filled with interesting information, and originally from the East Coast.  

Another couple soon arrived to join the wine tour.  Sometimes even better than the activities you do while traveling are the people you meet.  Bob and Mary were physically older, but extremely young at heart.  Usually wine tour guests take turns riding in the very back of the open air jeep. Being the younger couple on this trip, we had no problems climbing into and riding in the very back of the jeep for the whole tour, leaving Bob and Mary to sit in the easier to get into first set of back seats.

As we set out on our way with Julie at the wheel, Bob and Mary spoke about their travels, including some of the Temecula wineries they had already visited on past trips.  Julie remarked that their travels sounded exciting and Bob responded,

"At my age, watching a leaf fall off of a tree is exciting."  

I knew then, we were going to have fun with Bob and Mary. I also knew they were kindred spirits, because Mary and I both purposefully wore purple to theme our outfits with the wine tour.   

The Temecula Valley Jeep and Wine Tour included tastings at three wineries, lunch, and a little off roading in the jeep.

Now we have been to wineries before and have had wine tastings in New Jersey. California opened up a new world, showing us what wine tastings could be.  

Winery #1 Europa Village

Europa Village was our favorite of the three wineries we visited.

It had a vintage, casual, slightly hipster vibe.  The staff doing the pouring was funny and had a lot character.

I often like adding new jobs to the list of careers I think I could do. At each of the wineries we were given wine menus that included detailed, creative, clever descriptions of the wines available for sampling.  Think the J.Peterman catalog from Seinfeld but for wines. I'd take a sip of a wine and wonder, does this really taste like a blonde headed girl dancing in the rain in galoshes?

At each of the wineries we were able to sample six wines. Each winery gave us a little card to help keep track. One stamp for each wine.

In addition to having our favorite atmosphere, Europa Village also had our favorite wines of the day. They were the brightest, crispest, and the most vibrant. We decided that we would buy one wine from each winery to take home. At Europa Village we chose their, Sangiovesse, a kind of wine we had never had before, but have since become fans of. We loved Europa's wines so much, we still lament living in a state with stupid liquor laws that don't allow us to order wine through the mail. 

Julie told us that in Temecula Valley, instead of going to bars on the weekends, people hang out at wineries. They sample wines, perhaps purchase a full glass of their favorite, grab a really good cheese or other food, and enjoy the outdoor atmosphere the wineries provide.  

Yummy looking cheeses 
Europa Village Patio

 After sampling our wines, Julie took us on a little tour of the vineyard. She talked about the grapes and the wine making process. I loved how she was able to explain things in a very down to earth and concise way.

Perhaps one of the other things that made Europa Village our favorite, was Chloe the Vineyard Cat.  Chloe seemed quite content living on the vineyard.

One of our favorite parts of any tour is having someone to take pictures. Julie was a great photographer who wanted to make sure we came away with good shots.

Winery #2 Lorimar

We were so impressed by how much effort the wineries in California put into designing a place where you want to linger.  Lorimar's stone building was a beautiful piece of architecture both inside and out.

Being a little later in the day now, Lorimar was more jumping than Europa had been.  It's just as much fun watching other people take the first sip of wine as it is sipping it yourself.  Wineries can be good people watching.

The ladies pouring wine at Lorimar really hustle. 

Though we prefer white wines, we surprised ourselves by purchasing our second red wine of the day, a Cabernet Franc. 

While we sampled our wines, and racked up more stamps,

Julie gathered our lunch. We ate al fresco on Lorimar's patio while enjoying the vineyard's lovely views.

Fresh tomato, basil, and mozzarella on fresh baked bread. 

In addition to the delicious sandwiches, the tour provided bottles of water, greatly welcomed after all of the wine we had thus far, and pop chips, which I did not know I loved until that day. 

During lunch, Bob and Mary regaled us with the story of their meeting. If I didn't already adore them, their story would have sealed the deal.  Both widowed, they met in a writing class. Mary wrote a piece about her love for wine, something that Bob also had an affinity for and thus a friendship began.  They have been companions, traveling and having adventures together ever since. 

Later during the tour, Julie joked that Bob had a radio voice. Low and behold, Bob had in fact been a broadcaster in California.  He was even at the opening day of Disneyland where he met Walt Disney and Ronald Reagan. Mary equally had some interesting stories, I'd happily watch documentaries on both of their lives. They certainly made up for the mostly silent, somewhat anti-social couple we were paired with during our Chichen Itza tour in Mexico.  

After stories, twelve wine samples, and with lunch consumed, it was time for a little off roading. 

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