TEMECULA WINE COUNTRY
I love California! The song Hotel California pretty much summarizes it for me.Be it Los Angeles,San Diego or San Francisco.Great weather,great food and lovely people.This trip I visited Temecula Wine Country,a place my brother recommended eight years ago.It was an hour and half drive from Orange County and on a cool summer morning,it actually felt like Europe!
There are several wineries in the area but we choose Callaway as it was one of the founding vineyards and was perched on a hill.The view was spectacular! The sprawling vineyards take your breath away.Callaway Vineyard and Winery was the first to open a tasting room.I was reminded of my time at Napa Valley eight years ago.
We got down to the pleasurable task of wine tasting six of their best.The sommelier asked us our preferences (we like fruity wines) and then showed us the list and recommended some.Their wines are only available there though they do ship them.We had the 2015 Special Selection Sauvignon Blanc with aromas of peach,pear and melon.A citrussy delight to the palate,we loved this! The 2017 Muscat Canelli was a treat of mango,pineapple,honey,grape,cantaloupe,jasmine and nutmeg.The 2017 Late Harvest Chardonnay was all about peaches,figs,pineapple and nutmeg.The best of all was the Sparkling Wine which was better than any we had tasted before....NV Bella Rose which reminded you of peaches,pepper and mango.
They have a lovely gift store where you can buy their wines,wine stoppers,clothes and products like Strawberry Champagne Jam and Maple Bacon Boozy Barbecue Sauce.
We had lunch at their Farm to Fork restaurant Meritage (heritage food of merit,our steward told us).With a stunning view of the vineyards,we dived into their house specials but skipped the accompanying wine
The restaurant is full of gorgeous cactii
I had the Branzino,the Seabass from the Meditarranean which has white,sweet flesh.An absolute delight as it has been grilled whole,I must say that portions in America are huge and best shared!
Also had the exquisite Pork Belly with fried egg and pickled chiles.
The Quail Knots,one of their signature dishes was fried with mango and chillies.The restaurant is run by Chef Josh Diamond and the vegetables are grown less than 100 feet away.He believes in seasonal,sustainable produce from local farmers.Some of the other interesting dishes were Grilled Shrimp and Cactus and Beer Battered Avocado.
It was a beautiful morning and we were surrounded by tiny grapes on vines.The harvest was due in September
Temecula is a gorgeous place to visit.It has hotels to stay overnight,hot air balloon rides over the vineyards and also a short plane ride for scenic wine touring.The Pechanga Resort and Casino is wellknown (set up by Native Americans)and has a gallery of Native American art.There is also an Oak Tree Tour closeby which has to be booked and serves to educate about Native American wisdom.Since it is not a daily tour,I was unable to attend this time.For a long,long time Native Americans lived in Temecula in Riverside County of South California before the Spanish missionaries arrived.In fact they believe that life on earth originated there.Native Americans have great pride in their indigenous foods.Potatoes,tomatoes and chillies were first grown by them and then travelled to other places.Maize and salmon,berries and wild meat were important constituents of their diet.On my agenda in the future is a visit to the Mitsitam Cafe at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian at Washington DC where their food is available in all its splendour.Dishes like Fiddlehead Fern Salad,Roasted Venison and Fry Bread.So much to learn in this beautiful country!!