Before it became the region's home for inventive winemaking, the Temecula Valley was ranch country. Today, horses are still man's best friend, adding a distinctively Western vibe to the area's Mediterranean-style vineyards. This includes Keyways Vineyard & Winery, where a hitching post often hosts the horses of visitors passing the day inside.
This equestrian touch belies the sophistication of Keyways's winemaking enterprise. Inside a tasting room that the California Winery Advisor dubbed "rustic yet elegant," visitors sample the complex reds and whites that grace the black onyx bar. The winemaking team'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 overnight guests at vacation homes tucked inside the vineyard itself. Matrimonial knots take hold beneath a dark-stained trellis that caps a paved walkway perched in the foreground of the distant mountains. The vineyard also hosts special events, with rentals suitable for groups of 15 to 400.
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.
Amid Temecula Valley's rippling foothills, equestrian farms, and estate vineyards, Frangipani Estate Winery has carved out a rural post of its own overlooking the Deportola Wine Trail. Since 2003, owner and winemaker Don Frangipani has fused French varietals with old-world Italian styles, exhibiting a passion for red wines along the way. Today, Don's facility produces 5,000 cases per year, and every day, it swings open the doors to its boutique tasting room so visitors can stop by and test drive samples.
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.
Loosely translated as Manor House, Masia de Yabar Vineyard and Winery mimics the style of a Spanish villa—a gently gabled, terracotta roof caps low stucco walls with arched outlooks. The villa hints at the Yabar family's Spanish ancestry, as well as their passion for winemaking. Today, the Yabar family oversees the production of a handful of wines and leads tastings in an earth-toned room. During tours of the vineyard and winery, they demystify the process of making wines by showing visitors their purple toes. In the shade of palms, they host art classes and live music, welcoming guests to relax on the patio with a spicy-sweet malbec or a full-bodied temtranillo.
Specializing in Italian varietals, Cougar Vineyards and Winery sprawls across 17 acres of land on the De Portola Wine Trail, cultivating an ever-growing selection of specialties such as vermentino, aglianico, pinot grigio, and brachetto. Patrons can sample a consistently rotating arsenal of flavors inside a tasting room that’s open every day of the week, or take their wine education a step further by taking a tour of the production facility or helming a tell-all interview with one of the grapevines. Cougar Vineyards also plays host to a variety of events every month, including live musical acts on Saturdays.