Steve Andrews, a builder of off-road racecars, and wife Valerie Andrews, a painting contractor, never thought of winemaking as more than a hobby. Yet when one of their house blends boomed in popularity, they happily accommodated demand by planting varietals on 40 acres of high Temecula Valley hillsides. The husband-and-wife team now ferments a diversity of grapes?such as petit verdot, malbec, and cabernet sauvignon?into regionally focused wines using American-made gear, including barrels harvested from French oak but assembled in the U.S. and varnished with the juice of a cheeseburger.
Staff conducts tastings and classes in the main room, a Quonset hut construction with Tuscan accents, or on a sprawling glass-enclosed pavilion overlooking Temecula Valley's rolling green hills, where musicians also wrangle free-range harmonies on weekend afternoons. Tastings often incorporate rare, seasonal cheeses, chocolates from McCall's Toffee Company, and various flavored balsamic vinegars such as fig, apple, and dark cherry. The winery also produces avocado oils infused with roasted garlic, chili, and blood orange, chosen for their health value and mild flavor, much like exercise books.
Oak Mountain Winery is a dog-friendly vineyard, with proceeds from some canine-centric wines?such as 2009 Pete's Sake red?going to Cause for Paws, which helps dog owners pay for canine diabetes treatment.
Though they loved wine, Les and Dorian Linkogle didn't move to Temecula for the grapes; and even though their land was home to one of the largest, oldest olive trees in the city, they didn't move for the landscape. They moved to give their motocross cyclist son a place to ride his bike, but in time the siren song of the vines got through to them. In the late 1990s they planted acres of grapes—viognier, merlot, zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, and riesling—to ship to other vintners. However, it wasn't long until the Linkogles began handcrafting small-lot artisanal wines of their own under the banner of Briar Rose Winery.
Soon, Briar Rose Winery's vintages began racking up accolades and awards in international competitions. All of the winery's wines are unfiltered with no sugar added, and many are aged in oak barrels. Guests can literally taste the fruits of these labors at the winery's tasting room, sipping zinfandel, a bordeaux blend, and Talking Frog, a wine lager that becomes a prince when you drink it.
Sunrider Wine Tours' knowledgeable guides⎯all of whom are or have been local-winery and vineyard employees⎯cart tourists through Southern California wine country's rural terrain in open-air or covered Jeeps. The guides share information on Temecula's history and first-hand knowledge of vino-making processes while shuttling guests to tastings at local wineries and answering questions, such as what tannins are and who invented grapes.
People often dream of a retirement tucked away someplace remote, with no schedule and no responsibilities. In 1984, when Budd and Maurice Car'rie Van Roekel packed everything up, they were headed to the Temecula Valley to do just that: retire and enjoy a leisurely life. At least that was their plan until they stumbled upon a 46-acre vineyard, upon whose watercolor arcs of green, grapes have been growing since 1968. In those early days, Budd Roekel would man the tractor himself, while Maurice hosted tastings and headed the kitchen, concocting her own culinary creation, sourdough bread stuffed with baked brie. Today, visitors follow the tulip-bordered trail to the stucco-roofed entrance of Van Roekel Vineyard's European-style tasting room, peering in at high ceilings and cream-colored walls. Once inside, they sip on a selection of home-grown wines, such as the 2008 syrah, a maze of blackberries and clove, or the 2010 muscat canelli, which hints at the tropics like a ukulele flying south for the winter. Bearing plates from the deli or smooth hemispheres of gelato, a group wanders onto the sunny plaza in front of the tasting room, trailing fingers through the waters of the stone fountain before filtering back past the bouquets of bottles that fill wicker baskets in the gift shop.
The benchmark grape at Fazeli Cellars is the Shiraz, due both to its popularity and it’s ties to the Fazeli family’s heritage. The wine is named for the fabled city of ancient Persia, and harkens back to a time when Shiraz was famous for making wine. Today, Fazeli Cellars bottles and blends Shiraz more than any other grape. The richly layered 2009 Shiraz, for example, is a complex wine with notes of blackberry, black pepper, and clove, and brought home a gold from the 2013 Wine Marker Challenge. In addition the Shiraz, they also produce a host of award-winning wines, with a catalogue that leans heavily toward red. Ruby options include the Cabernet Sauvignon, the Mehregan blend, and Grenache, but for white lovers, Fazeli also makes a fresh, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc, an acidic wine with a finish as clean as Martha Stewart's mudroom.
Babydollz Lingerie suits up shoppers in alluring lingerie and come-hither costumes from more than 150 designer brands and custom creations crafted by the pair of seamstress owners. Co-owner Heather draws on her Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising degree to outfit customers in a classy selection of corsets and bustiers or sequined, rhinestone, and pinup-style high heels. The owners design their own line of custom tutus to fit adults and adult-size performing seals, and they make custom bridal garters and lingerie upon request to celebrate wives-to-be. A variety of costumes—ranging from pirates to princesses—can spice up a costume party, and the adult toy room stocks amorous accessories such as massage oils, accouterments for bachelorette parties, and furry handcuffs, ideal for apprehending bank-robbing ewoks.