Grapes have played a tremendous role in human history—many members of the Hapsburg dynasty were at least half-grape—and they tended to do their best work at vineyards. Today's Groupon treats you to one of the San Diego region's better graperies with $75 worth of gourmet cuisine and drinks at Callaway Vineyard and Winery's Meritage in Temecula for $35. You'll also get 10% off everything at Callaway's wine store (just print your Groupon twice to use it once in the restaurant and once in the store). You may use one Groupon for every two people at your table, so you, your identical twin, and your identical twin dates can all enjoy a night of wacky mismatches and delicious food.
High atop a hill in the Temecula valley, surrounded by clear blue skies and lush rows of Rhone grapes, sits Miramonte Winery, where the winemakers soulfully craft their red wines, off dry rosés, and inspired whites. A big, open veranda wraps around the building to provide an airy venue for wine tastings, and Mojo, the winery dog, curiously greets visitors before going off to lay in the sun.
The deep flavors and aromas in Miramonte's wines come not only from the way the Rhone grapes grow in the valley, but also from the expertise of winemaker Reinhard Schlassa and passion of owner Cane Vanderhoof. A UC Davis alum, Schlassa has made wines with icons of the industry on three continents, and he continues to perfect his craft at Miramonte Winery.
Dating back to 1969, Mount Palomar Winery ranks among Temecula's oldest wineries. Today, its historic winery and sprawling vineyard stretch across more than 315 acres nestled right in the heart of Temecula wine country. Guests can climb atop the grand staircase, which offers a 360-degree view of the surrounding vineyards and mountains at 1400-foot elevation. The beautiful scenery gives way to numerous venues for weddings, social outings, and corporate events.
The idea for California Fruit Wine was hatched in 2009, when a friend of Alan and Brian Haghighi introduced the twin brothers to small batches of homemade fruit wine. Since those first sips, Alan, Brian, and their older brother, David, have continued to help wine drinkers break free from grape-based conventions, utilizing such fruit as peaches, strawberries, plums, and pumpkins as the foundation for an ever-growing arsenal of flavors. From dry to sweet, the winery fills glasses with unique bouquets, and—like the microbreweries throughout Vista Business Park—buys its ingredients from local sources rather than growing them or stealing them from the refrigerators of napping bears. California Fruit Wine's spacious facility, which is stocked with a stage, bar, and pool table, can also be rented out for parties and private events.
Founded in 1993, Witch Creek Winery has racked up a multitude of awards for its handcrafted wines, especially its 12 red varietals. Soak up the sun at the original Carlsbad location near the beach, or take in the picturesque scenery of the mountain-nestled Julian storefront while you sample five to seven wines during a tasting ($5). A courteous staff member will tell you about the grapes you're gobbling, guide you through the flavors, and remind you to floss. Then you'll be free to grab grapey goodness such as the 2006 Reserve Cabernet Franc ($30), which blends hints of cherries and rhubarb, or the 2007 Lodi Zinfandel ($32), which emits soothing aromas of pepper, cinnamon, and eternity. Or, pick up Witch Creek’s 2008 CB Viognier ($20), which wakens senses with peach and floral flavors.
Keyways Vineyard & Winery–owner Terri Pebley Delhamer presides over the only woman-owned-and-curated winery in Temecula Valley. Enlisting her close friend and designer Deborah Daniel to select the amber stucco walls and terracotta roofs, Terri cultivated the winery's classic mission-style aesthetic. Inside a tasting room that the California Winery Advisor dubbed "rustic yet elegant," head winemaker David Raffaele calls on experience gained during studies in the Italian wine country, crafting numerous varietals that grace the black onyx bar. Raffaele’s adherence to craftsmanship results in limited-run vintages that fill the vineyard’s trim annual production of 4,000 cases, or what Dionysus referred to as pregaming.
When the vintners aren't harvesting plump grapes on their equestrian-friendly property, they keep busy by hosting special events and overnight guests at a recently renovated estate home surrounded by rolling foothills and nearby ranches. Matrimonial knots take hold beneath a dark-stained trellis that caps a paved walkway perched in the foreground of the distant mountains.
An elegant chateau sits on the hill at the center of Leoness Cellars’ vineyard, overlooking 70 acres lush with grapes. The chateau welcomes guests who come to visit its tasting rooms and serves as a compass of sorts for those who wander too far on walks through the purplish fields. It looks on as couples recite their vows during wedding ceremonies, and it houses a complete production facility where daily tour groups learn about the age-old methods of crushing, aging, and singing soft lullabies to grapes. Chef Daragh Matheson fills the chateau’s kitchen with the aromas of Alaskan salmon, ahi tuna, and beef carpaccio—specialties that pair exquisitely with the cellars’ wines.