Lifelong gardener Jim Carter, owner of South Coast Winery, bottles fine wines on 38 picturesque acres in Southern California’s Temecula Valley. South Coast’s grounds house a luxurious spa and seven Mediterranean-esque resort villas, reminiscent of a remote Tuscan village. Jim’s specialty varietals have been recognized time and again in local and national wine competitions. Visiting oenophiles can spend time here unwinding with an open air massage, vacationing in a temporary home equipped with a marble Jacuzzi and sweet plump grapes at arms length, or learning about the winemaking process on a vineyard tour.
The sounds of conversation and laughter compete with the clinking of glasses in The Wine Artist?s lofty venue. The space sprawls over 2,500 square feet, with plenty of room to host private parties, bridal events, corporate events, and private cooking classes. Events at The Wine Artist feature unique wines, gourmet catering, and experiences such as wine bottling and team building activities.
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 and Brian have continued to help wine drinkers break free from grape-based conventions, utilizing such fruit as pomegranates, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, and pumpkins as the foundation for an ever-growing arsenal of flavors. The winery fills glasses with unique bouquets, and?like the microbreweries throughout Vista Business Park?buys its ingredients from vendors up and down the west coast 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.
The "secret" in Bacchus' Secret Cellar is gas. Argon gas, to be exact, which powers the bar's preservation system and ensures that the wines within stay fresh for long periods of time. There are about 50 wines—mostly reds—on tap at the counter, as well as 8 sparkling wines, 5 dessert wines, and 12 microbrews. The library of options encourages guests to sample several, so it's wise to order a flight: you can get a signature array of 2.5-ounce glasses, or you can compose your own for a unique harmony of tastes.
The bar is just the beginning of the cellar's wine selection. On the shelves that span the walls, more than 350 labels beckon to be uncorked. A bistro menu provides gourmet food to complement sips, from starters of oven-roasted dates to lamb burgers and prosciutto flatbreads, made by dropping a regular loaf of bread into a printing press by accident. There's also a full menu of cheeseboards, with goat, cow, and sheep cheeses from the United States and abroad.
The owners of Corona Pumpkin Farm weren?t setting out to build a business in the fall of 2009. They just wanted to cultivate fresh, healthy produce for their family. So they began sowing seeds in box gardens, nourishing the soil with compost from chickens that also bore fresh eggs, and the occasional golden one. Eventually, the chickens? bounty outgrew the boxed gardens, and the humble family endeavor flourished into Corona Pumpkin Farm, which sits atop more than an acre of land. Now the farmers nurture more than 50 types of pumpkins for eating and carving, as well as a cornucopia of fruits and veggies that includes three types of corn and pick-your-own boysenberries. Along with the produce, they raise chickens and turkeys for meat, gather eggs from the coop, and sometimes barter with neighbors for beef and pork.
To show their respect for Mother Nature and their own health, they prefer to use organic solutions first, avoiding chemicals on their garden grub whenever possible. But visitors don?t flock to the farm just for the fresh, healthy fare; they come to pick their own pumpkins, meander through the 10-foot-high stalks that fill a half-acre corn maze, and enjoy other seasonal activities, such as cuddling baby chicks, zooming down an inflatable slide, painting pumpkins, and crafting personalized trick-or-treat bags.
Food lovers rejoice: rather than traverse the town in search of a variety of cuisine, they can save time and shoe leather by attending the Valley Center Gourmet Food Truck Festival. The second annual culinary extravaganza—sporting a Hawaiian theme this year—features mouth-watering platefuls from food trucks such as Crepes Bonaparte, Dang Brother Pizza, and Hoangie's Bahn Mi, dished out alongside pours from Hess Brewing and California Fruit Wine. While adults enjoy of-age libations, youngsters can partake of activities including pony rides and face painting. Live music and DJ performances underscore each sip, swirl, and perfectly tuned bite.