A Weekend in Wine Country

As promised, here’s a review of the weekend that Matt and I enjoyed in California’s Temecula wine country earlier this month!  I’ll pick up where I left off in my last post – Las Vegas, NV.

On Friday afternoon Matt and I finished up our work week at the Sands Convention Center around 5PM.  We picked up a rental car at the airport and set out on a 4 hour drive over the mountains and through the Mojave Desert to Temecula, California.  The sunset was beautiful!!

We arrived at Ponte Vineyard Inn in what felt like the middle of the night and went to sleep immediately, oblivious to our surroundings.  (Between the long week in Vegas and still sort of being on East Coast time, we were exhausted!)  It wasn’t until I woke up early the next morning and peeked out the window that I realized we had arrived in a beautiful fantasy land of vineyards, sweeping vistas, and gorgeous weather.  I snapped this photo through a crack in the drapes before going back to sleep for an hour to dream about wine and hot air balloons.  🙂

4 View out our window Saturday morning

Matt and I officially began our first day in Temecula with a 3 mile run that took us past 4 wineries, orange groves, and a horse farm.  Then we set out by car to Mount Palomar Winery where we feasted on an outdoor lunch at Shorty’s Bistro before enjoying a leisurely 6-wine tasting in Mount Palomar’s relaxing, flower-filled courtyard.  True to its name, Mount Palomar is situated on a high hill with breathtaking views of wine country.  We wandered up to the terraced gardens and took a few photos – the blue California sky with perfect fluffy white clouds was unreal!

We next visited Wiens Family Cellars, which is conveniently located less than a quarter mile from Ponte Vineyard Inn.  (Which should have been an easy walk except I was in heels and it was a deep gravel road… good thing there was wine waiting for us at Wiens!!)  We did another 6-wine tasting at Wiens while snacking on cheese and crackers before trekking back to Ponte (where I promptly changed my shoes!).  Then it was time for our final tasting of the day at our ‘home’ winery, Ponte Family Estate.  We took our time working our way through Ponte’s selections (our favorite was their 2011 Zinfandel Holiday Reserve), then headed back to the room to relax (and blog about the Security 5K) before enjoying a late dinner at The Restaurant at Ponte.  All in all a great day!

On Sunday we visited Miramonte Winery.  Like Mount Palomar, Miramonte is up on a hill overlooking the vineyards and they had a beautiful outdoor space that encouraged relaxed, comfortable wine tasting.  The Miramonte bar tender served our Sangria with a little champagne and ice and we liked it so much we bought a bottle to bring back to Ponte with us.  Once we returned to Ponte we walked over to the other neighboring winery, South Coast, where we split a few glasses of wine over lunch.  Then we took a guided tour of Ponte’s vineyards, tasted some “young” wine straight out of a steel cask, and sampled a port wine that was still in the process of barrel aging.

All of that tasting and touring made us tired, so we settled down with our books (well, Kindle and iPad, to be exact) in Ponte Inn’s courtyard for some reading accompanied by Miramonte’s Sangria.  Reading, sunshine, and sangria made for a lovely afternoon but I have to admit that by the time we made it to our 8PM dinner at Ponte’s outdoor restaurant, I was super sleepy and just felt like drinking water!!

On Monday morning we said goodbye to Ponte paradise and headed back to the real world of business meetings.  Fortunately we finished up our meetings (and made it thru LA traffic) fairly quickly which gave us time to explore the area around our hotel in Irvine.  I did a quick web search and discovered that we were fairly close to Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, so we drove to the access point at Woods End Wilderness Preserve and set out on a hike on the rolling hills above Laguna Woods.

The weather was pleasantly hot (80°?) and we jogged a little before being startled by a loud noise on the side of the trail.  We stopped and discovered a huge orange rattlesnake casually sunning himself on the edge of the trail… eek! (I guess he thought 80° was pleasantly hot, too!!)  We gave him a wide berth and continued on our hike (keeping away from the trail’s sunny side), but I was a little freaked out so we didn’t make it much further before I voted to turn around and head carefully back to the car.

Tuesday marked the end of our west coast adventure.  After some meetings in the morning we headed to LAX (again, somehow managing to miss all LA traffic, which was awesome!) and returned home.  I always like arriving home after a long trip, but I have to say that California was pretty amazing.  Our weekend in Temecula wine country was completely relaxing with beautiful weather, good wine, and, of course, good company.  🙂  I thoroughly enjoyed our time there and I would go back in a heartbeat!

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The Perks of a Winery Wedding (Wedding Photo of the Week)

One of my favorite moments of our wedding day was when Matt and I slipped away from our reception and spent a little time together in Grace Winery’s vineyard at sunset.  Our photographer, Melissa Hassey, captured the moment through the grape vines:

Matt and Annie in the Vineyard

Getting married at a winery had some awesome perks.  We attended wine tastings, our friends relaxed in the vineyard sipping wine before our wedding started, and, of course, everyone enjoyed drinking the locally made wines at the reception!

Matt and I shared bottles of Grace Winery’s 2012 Pinot Gris (pictured above left) with our bridal party before the ceremony.  This freshly bottled Pinot Gris was light, refreshing and perfect for a warm June afternoon.  We also served Grace Winery’s oaky 2010 Reserve Chardonnay (my personal favorite) and a sweet and slightly smoky 2012 red that was so new it didn’t yet have an official name!

Grace Winery is about 3 miles from our house and they have tastings every weekend so we look forward to trying new vintages in the future!  We’ll definitely have to get a bottle or two for our first anniversary next June.  🙂

Annie and Matt in the Vineyard

If you ever find yourself in Philadelphia’s western suburbs yearning for a glass of wine make sure to check out Grace Winery!  Their tasting room is open nearly every weekend and the barn, vineyard, and surrounding farmlands are beautiful.  Grace Winery at Sweetwater Farm, 50 Sweetwater Road, Glen Mills, PA 19342; 610-459-4711.

Related Posts:
Wedding Photo of the Week #1
We’re Married!

All photographs in this post were taken by Melissa Hassey Photography.