DAY TRIP – DE PORTOLA RD (TEMECULA)
For those of you who have spent any time wine tasting in Temecula on a weekend, I’m sure you have experienced the madness that is Rancho California Rd. Now there is a good reason for this, these are some of the most well known wineries, producing not only excellent wines but delicious cuisine and in some cases, first class accommodations. But for those of you who would like to get off the beaten path, De Portola Rd is an excellent alternative. Loaded with 10+ wineries, you’re sure to find a few wines that’ll tickle the pallet. I have 4 suggested below that provide top flight service, an atmosphere that is welcoming and picturesque and wines that are unique and in many cases, quite exceptional.
Fazeli Cellars Winery – One of my favorite wineries in all of Temecula, Fazeli Cellars puts a smile on my face just thinking about it. Bizhan has put together a winery that pleases every taste. From the Baba Joon Kitchen serving up some delicious treats (try the Persian Kitchen Tacos or Fava Bean Hummus) to the vast selection of wines, which are unique and seem to fit with whatever you are pairing. Not one to usually gush over a Chardonnay, but if you can find theirs (sometimes it’s in short supply) with it’s vanilla wafer characteristics and creaminess, buy it, bath in it, love it. Not only does it tantalize the nose and palate, but it’s one of those rare wines that creates an “experience”. If you’re staying to dine, and I strongly suggest it, try the Phel Phel with your meal. I find this is a wine that seems to go with just about everything…delicious. I also suggest joining their club https://fazelicellars.com/wine-clubs/ if you live anywhere nearby. There are regular events unlike any other in Temecula Wine Country. So start your day at Fazeli’s where the atmosphere is always friendly and lively and the service is always top flight.
Gershon Bachus Vintners – Next up is Gershon Bachus Vintners, located atop a small hill just opposite Robert Renzoni, GBV creates wines of exceptional quality and style. With many of their wines named after gods, it’s no wonder I had such lofty expectations the first time I visited and number of years ago. I was not disappointed and I have returned again and again. Gershon Bachus is named after the grandfather of one of the owners, who immigrated to the US back in 1922 and was never able to realize his dream of opening a winery. Ken and Christina have owned GBV since it’s inception over 15 years ago. Today, with Dakota Denton, GBV’s winemaker, they are producing some of the finest wines on the De Portola Wine Trail. Particular favorites of mine are Hesperus (Grenache) and the Aeolus (Red Blend). Go to https://shop.gershonbachus.com/ to pick your favorite or join their awesome Wine Clique. Be sure to take a short walk up the steps above the winery to view the beautiful waterfall and pond. A trip to Gershon Bachus Vintners is a trip to be remembered and savored. So as Ken and Christina say…Live Well. Love Much. Laugh Often.
Oak Mountain Winery – Oak Mountain Winery has so much to offer. From their vast selection of wines to delicious dining to breathtaking scenery, one can spend a hours here quite easily. Originally serving in 2000 with private tastings, it wasn’t until the Oak Mountain Winery opened it’s doors in 2005 that the general public could taste their wines. There is so much to see and do, but a trip to Oak Mountain is not complete without a visit to The Cave. Sitting 104 feet below ground, The Cave is the first and only subterranean cave in Southern California. Schedule yourself a tour https://www.exploretock.com/oakmountainwinery or plan on dining in this manmade wonder. Also, the just opened 36522 Distillery (oddly enough…the address of the speakeasy. hmm) on property, brings you back nearly 100 years to the time of prohibition and the secret and mysterious speakeasys. Reservations are required and can be made with the link above. If you’re getting a little famished about now, you can also make reservations at the Cave Cafe and enjoy and nice leisurely meal before heading to your last stop at Sweet Oaks Winery as you depart the De Portola Wine Trail
Sweet Oaks Winery – Sweet Oaks is technically not on De Portola Rd, nor is it part of the De Portola Wine Trail, but it’s just a stone’s throw away and this (somewhat) new kid on the block is producing some very unique and quite tasty wines. Founded in 2015, Sweet Oaks Wine sits on a sprawling 28 acre equestrian estate on Pauba Rd just south of De Portola Rd. The wines offered here possess some very interesting characteristics which will add a cherry to the top of your amazing day. For instance, the excellent Pinot Grigio is actually light orange in color and the Brose, a Grenache rose, has a distinct powdered sugar aroma. Also, the Zinfandel is not to be missed. Wines at Sweet Oaks have a certain boldness about them and seem to command the palate. After your tasting, you should look into their wine club program. It offers some some of the most innovative packaging I’ve seen for a club (see image) and the 375ml bottles in the Flight Club boxes allows you you taste and try at a very reasonable cost. Currently, tastings are by appointment only and need to be scheduled ahead of time (call 951.414.5178 or go to http://sweetoaks.com to reserve a time)
This is by no means the only wineries that deserve a visit on De Portola, but they are some that I have consistently enjoyed, not only for their wines but for their outstanding hospitality. For anyone in Southern California, Temecula can be reached quite easily. With the tremendous improvement in wine quality, dining and accommodations, Temecula Wine Country has become one of the top getaway destinations in not only California, but in the US. Be sure to follow us on Instagram (@boozepress) and come back here often for more features and in-depth stories from Temecula, as well as a few surprises. Cheers…