By Susan Montgomery
Last weekend some friends from Wisconsin visited us in Temecula. Jeri and Dawn are my partying girlfriends who were looking for a really good time and a break from their demanding jobs and family lives at home. Also, they had never been to the Temecula area before so we wanted to give them a good overview of our great lifestyle here. So what to do in three nights and two days? We had promised a focus on the wine country and that’s what they got. We could have done so much more, but time was limited. We are expecting many more visitors from the Midwest and we would like your advice on where to go and what to see.
At home we grilled fresh local vegetables and steak. Sitting around our backyard chiminea, we savored some more Temecula wines and went to bed. On Friday morning, after a big country breakfast, we headed to Old Town where our guests were hoping to see some real cowboys. We didn’t promise any cowboys but, sure enough, they there were: several pony-tailed guys with big-brimmed hats, and even spurs, sauntering down Main Street, which was lined with vintage cars. This was not a scene they would ever see back in Milwaukee. We did an olive oil tasting at the Temecula Olive Oil Company—a real novelty for our guests—where they bought gifts of unique oils and soaps to take home. We also stopped by the Temecula Lavender Co. for some fragrant lotions right from the local area. After wandering through the charming Painted Garden on Main Street, we finished our morning’s excursion with a relaxed wine tasting in Lorimar’s comfortable tasting room, where we heard from owner Mark about Lorimar’s plans to have a Tuscan tasting room in the wine country soon.
After brief power naps at home (it takes energy to keep drinking wine), we headed to Oak Mountain Winery where a pre-arranged group of friends brought all kinds of snacks and we sampled a variety of wines, including favorites, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot, and the luscious 2008 Compilations from Temecula Hills Winery. (This is the only winery in Temecula that houses two wineries at one site—Oak Mountain and Temecula Hills.) Jeri and Dawn loved the picturesque views at Oak Mountain and the congenial camaraderie among the wine drinkers. Our knowledgeable wine country friend, Patrick Neal, took Dawn on a walk through the vines, pointing out the different kinds of grapes and discussing harvesting technology methods.
But our day was not over. Next we headed back to Old Town to one of our favorite places, The Public House, where a band was rocking in the outside bar area. There was no room to sit anywhere but at the bar, which was fine with us and we took a break from wine to sample the local micro-brewery Black Market’s beers. We all agreed these beers rivaled Milwaukee’s famous micro-brews. After all the earlier snacks, we weren’t too hungry so we enjoyed a cheese platter that was beyond delicious, even for my Wisconsin friends who come from the “other” cheese state.
We were meeting friends at Longshadow Ranch where every Saturday throughout the summer and early fall they have a live band playing outside. Surrounded by horses, goats, wandering dogs, and relaxed families with their children, it’s a congenial country experience—enjoying the mellow evening weather with friends, along with wine, snacks and dancing to great California rock ‘n roll music. But lately Long Shadow has also had a bucking bronco where for $5 brave souls can climb aboard and see how long they can stay astride the rocking mechanical beast. Much to my surprise, Jeri and Dawn decided they had to show their Midwest stuff and ride the bull. (Could this decision have been colored by a day of wine drinking?) Despite their skirts, they climbed over the inflatable enclosure (or should I say “fell” over the enclosure) and headed toward the bull. Later they said that pulling themselves up on the big bull was the hardest part of the ride. But we all whooped and hollered as they each stayed on the bull for quite some time. They entertained everyone since usually it’s the young buff marines who brave the bull. One of them fell off, but they both were the hits of the evening at Long Shadow. Our friends are still talking about our crazy Midwestern friends who rode the mechanical bull.
We went home exhausted and our guests headed out early Sunday for their flight from San Diego back to Wisconsin. It was hard to say good-bye. We had done so much in such a brief amount of time, but there was still so much more to do. Our friends in the Temecula wine country are still talking about our zany friends and their whirlwind visit. We can’t wait for them to return. There are so many more wineries to visit, sunsets to savor, and maybe even bulls to ride.
Photo credits: Todd Montgomery, Jeff Akers, Dawn Bloomfield