Archive for January, 2013

Winery Spotlight: Get to Know… Cougar Vineyard & Winery

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

The Story

Cougar Vineyard & Winery is one of Temecula Valley’s smaller boutique wineries, producing approximately 4500 cases per year. Owners and winemakers Rick & Jennifer Buffington are passionate wine-lovers; they have been making wine for 20 years and are known for their hands-on approach to every aspect of the winery operations.

Italian varietals are Cougar’s specialty.  In addition to unique wines and fun-loving staff, this popular wine tasting stop also hosts cool events and boasts a devoted wine club following.

Cougar Winery & Vineyard, Temecula Valley

The Wines

Cougar produces reds, whites, rosés, and sparkling wines so there’s a wine to suit every palate. Rick & Jennifer love to introduce rare and unique Mediterranean grapes to the Temecula wine scene. Cougar proudly offers lesser-known Italian varietals like Vermentino, Montepulciano and Brachetto. The latter was just recognized as a grape varietal in the United States and Cougar Vineyards is one of only two commercial wineries that are growing it. Visit Cougar’s wine store here!

Cougar Wines from Temecula Valley, CA


Wine Tasting

The Cougar Winery tasting room is open 7 days a week from 11-6pm.

Tasting Room Pricing:

  • $10 for 6 tastes
  • $15 for 6 tastes + logo glass
  • $22 for 6 reds-only tastes (available Friday-Sunday)


Vineyard tours and wine production tours are available Friday-Monday. Call to reserve your spot at 951-491-0825 or visit www.cougarvineyards.com.

Cougar Winery & Vineyards address: 39870 De Portola Road, Temecula, CA 92592


Exciting news for spring 2013!

Cougar Winery announces their new tasting room and eatery, Sangio’s Deli – opening in early spring 2013! The addition of another food stop on De Portola Road promises to provide hungry wine-lovers with even more options to fill up between sips.

Get the latest news by visiting the Cougar blog. Make sure to say hi to black labs Monte and Mocha on your next visit to Cougar Winery & Vineyards!

Monte & Mocha, Cougar Wine Dogs | HulsePhoto.com

Cougar Winery Olive Tree, Temecula Valley


Five Fun Facts About… Late Harvest Wine

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Are you familiar with late harvest wine?

Remember those small, lovely bottles you’ve seen in the dessert wine section of your favorite tasting room or wine store?

Many wine-lovers have yet to discover how delicious a late harvest wine can taste – especially when paired with cheese and honey, chocolate or a fruit-based dessert.

The perfect sweet dessert wine for Valentine’s day, late harvest wine is simple to understand and easy to find here in Temecula Valley!


Here are five fun facts about late harvest wine!

Facts courtesy of Snooth and Wikipedia
  1. “Late harvest” refers to wines made from grapes left on the vine longer than usual and picked later than normal. Late harvest grapes are often more similar to raisins, but have been naturally dehydrated while still on the vine.
  2. Late harvest wines are made around the world with almost every grape imaginable. Grapes like zinfandel and riesling are ideally suited to produce late harvest wine and are among the most popular.
  3. Grapes used for late harvest wines go through their full growth cycle and then some – becoming super sweet and losing acidity as they ripen.
  4. “Noble rot” is the term for the edible mold that causes grapes to lose nearly all of their water content. This natural process begins to take place in late September and can last until late October.
  5. Late harvest grapes are often hand-picked. Sometimes, the usable grapes from one vine may only produce enough juice for a single glass.


Looking for a great bottle of Temecula Valley Late Harvest Wine?  Check these wines out!



February and Valentine’s Day Events in Temecula Valley Wine Country

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

What could be more romantic than a February escape to Southern California’s wine country? Our Temecula wineries are pulling out all the stops for wine-lovers looking for an easy idyllic getaway. Choose from a variety of amorous entertainment including dinner theater, art and wine tasting classes and winery tours – plus overnight hotel packages, lunch specials, wine-pairing dinners, spa treatments – and so much more!

See below for all the details…


Baily Winery

Valentine Lovers Lunch

Thursday, February 14

11:30a-2:30p; 3 courses, $25 per person

Call (951) 676-9463 for reservations

Valentine Dinner

Thursday, February 14

5:00p-8:30p; 4 courses, $50 per person

Live music by Fandango

Call (951) 676-9463 for reservations

Dog Day Sundays


Bring your pooch to lunch in Wine Country.  Special dog menu, gift items and dog treats


Bel Vino Winery

Valentine’s Day Wine Pairing Dinner

Thursday, February 14

6:30p-9:30p; $80 per person, plus tax and gratuity | $70 per person, plus tax and gratuity – Wine Club

Reservations required by calling (951) 676-6414


Callaway Vineyard & Winery

Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting

Saturdays in February

2:00p; $30 per person

Reservations recommended by calling (951) 676-4001

Behind the scenes tour and tasting.

Vino d’ Amore Valentine’s Dinner

Saturday, February 9

6:30p-9:30p; $216 per couple (inclusive) | $195 per couple – Wine Club (inclusive)

Reservations required.  Click here for reservations or call (951) 676-4001

Enjoy a sparkling wine reception, live entertainment and a delectable dinner perfectly paired with award-winning Callaway wine.

Valentine’s Day Prix Fixe Dinner at Meritage at Callaway

Thursday, February 14

5:30p & 7:30p seating only; $75 per person, plus tax and gratuity

Treat your loved one to an incredible wine paired dinner complete with a rose for the ladies and a scrumptious dessert for two.

Reservations required, please call (951) 587-8889

Cupid’s Flight Wine Tasting

February 9, 10 & 14 at 12p, 2p & 4p; February 11, 12, 13, 15 at 2p

$25 per person, inclusive | $22.50 for Wine Club

Enjoy relaxing with your loved one while sipping on wonderful wines and enjoying the spectacular view from our hilltop winery.  To make it extra special, we are including a fruit and cheese plate and chocolate dipped strawberries for two.

Reservations required.  Click here for more reservations or call (951) 676-4001


Cougar Vineyard & Winery

5th Annual Super Chili Bowl Chili Competition

Sunday, February 3

3:00p (competitors much arrive at or before 2:15p to drop off entry) | $10 Competitors only | $20 Wine Club | $25 Non-Wine Club

Includes chili tasting, food and wine or beer; Prices increase by $5 the day of the event

Must pay in advance to reserve competitor spots.  Spots are limited.  Call (951) 491-0825 for reservations or more information.


Europa Village

Friday Night Entertainment

February 1, 8, 15, 22

5:30p-8:30p; Complimentary live music

Art Class in the Vineyards with Monti Ladd

Wednesday, February 6


Valentine’s Dinner – “Love Letters”


Tickets: $85.00 pp, Societe Members: $76.50 pp (plus service charge and sales tax)
Premium Tickets (intimate table for two): $105.00 pp,
Societe Members: $94.50 pp (plus service charge and sales tax)

Europa Village presents a special Valentine’s Day dinner play “Love Letters.” A. R. Gurney’s timeless play is bittersweet and deeply moving touching the audience with its tears, smiles and laughter. Enjoy a 4-course gourmet wine paired dinner, prepared by Europa Village’s own award winning executive chef Dean Thomas

Shakespeare In The Vines – “Mary Stuart”

Friday, February 15
Saturday, February 16
Sunday, February 17

Friday, February 22
Saturday, February 23
Sunday, February 24
7:00 pm

Two Queens, One Throne, No Mercy
Mary Stuart probes themes of political corruption and religious conflict as it dramatizes the struggle of Mary, Queen of Scots, to gain her freedom from Queen Elizabeth I after eighteen years of imprisonment. In this thrilling story, Schiller mixes historical fact with a dramatic imagined meeting of the two queens amidst espionage, attempted assassinations, prison breaks, lost love, and a tragic crisis which confronts both women with impossibly difficult decisions about their claim to the throne. The play chronicles the last three days and the beheading of Mary Stuart.

Paint & Palate Event – Celebrating Renoir’s Birthday

Thursday, February 28

6:00p-9:00p; $35 per person

Call (760) 500-0383 for more information



Falkner Winery

Valentine’s Lunch Specials at Pinnacle Restaurant

From February 9 through February 17

$55 per couple, plus tax and gratuity; Wine specials also available

Reservations suggested: Please call (951) 676-8231 ext, 1 or online here

Valentine’s Dinner

Thursday, February 14

6:30p; $79 per person, plus tax and gratuity

VIP Food & Wine Members – $69 per person, plus tax and gratuity | Food & Wine Club Members – $74 per person, plus tax and gratuity

Reservations required: please call (951) 676-8231

A wonderful four course meal with individual wine pairings of Falkner’s best wines in this panoramic, hill-top location. Live entertainment and first class service.

VIP Vertical Tasting

Saturday, February 2

10:30a-12:30p; $40 per person, plus tax | $30 per person, plus tax – Food & Wine Club Members

To make reservations, contact Holly at 951-676-8231 ext. 109 or email at wineclub@falknerwinery.com

This vertical tasting will focus on (8) different vintages of Falkner Merlot.


Frangipani Winery

Karaoke Night

Friday, February 1


Happy Hour Fun with Live Music

Saturday, February 9

5:00p-8:00p; Special wine cocktail menu

Valentine’s Day Wine Paired Dinner

Thursday, February 14 & Friday, February 15

7:00p-10:00p; $65 per person, plus tax and gratuity | Live entertainment with “Sinatra & Friends”

RSVP by February 10 by calling (951) 699-8845


Keyways Vineyard & Winery

“Wine Is My Valentine” Event

Thursday, February 14

6:30p-9:30p; $35 per person | $25 per person, wine club

Live music, appetizers, 1 specialty drink and special Valentine’s Day wine prices


Leoness Cellars

“Wine 101”

Friday, February 8

1:00p-4:00p; $55 per person (for two people), Wine Club | $95 per person, Public

Our host Tony will take you through a comprehensive Tour and Tasting explaining in detail our Grape Growing, Harvest and Wine Making processes.

RSVP at hosts@leonesscellars.com or (951) 302-7601 ext. 125

Valentine’s “Dinner Theater Event”

Thursday, February 14

6:30p-9:30p; $98 per person, plus tax – Wine Club members | $108 per person, plus tax – Non Wine Club

If you are arranging a romantic night out or perhaps even an engagement, plan to join us for an amazing evening of intrigue with our Dinner Theater Presentation. Enjoy delicious food, wine and some amazing entertainment at our annual dinner theater.

RSVP at reservations@leonesscellars.com or (951) 302-7601 ext. 150


Lorimar Winery (Wine Country location)

Live music on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.   Click here for times and artist information

Epicurean Food Demonstration

Wednesday, February 6

4p-7p; $20 per person

An entertaining and interactive cooking demonstration incorporating the unique items from our very own Epicurean display located in our gift shop.  Admission entitles you to tastings of demoed food from the gift shop, wine pairing and exclusive prices on wine and select gift shop items.

Valentine’s Dinner

Thursday, February 14

6:30p-9:30p; $90 per person, plus tax | $80 per person, plus tax – Wine Club

Call for reservations: (951) 694-6699 ext. 104 or by e-mail at events@lorimarwinery.com

3 course dinner with wine pairing and live music.


Monte De Oro Winery

3rd Annual Valentine’s Dinner

Thursday, February 14

7:00p; $120 per couple, plus tax and gratuity – wine club | $140 per couple, plus tax and gratuity – non-wine club

Includes champagne toast, four course meal and wine pairing with each course, live music & dancing.

Reservations required by calling (951) 491-6551 ext. 101 or click here


Oak Mountain Winery

Saturday, February 9

Extended hours from 6p-9p with live music by Dayton Borders, food and wine

Wine Blending Party – Valentine’s Day After Celebration

Friday, February 15

6:00p-9:00p; $95 per person | $90 per person, Wine Club

Sample three different red wine varietals and learn with differentiates them from one another.  You’ll want to take careful notes because the next two hours you’ll spend blending and tasting as you craft your own wine.  Four course dinner and a glass of wine included.

Reservations required by calling (951) 699-9102 or by e-mail to vandrews@oakmountainwinery.com.


Ponte Winery

Annual Valentine’s Dinner

Thursday, February 14

6:30p-10:00p; $95 per person | $86 per person, Wine Club

6:30p-7:00p – Sparkling wine and hors d’oeuvres butler passed at door

7:00p-10:00p – 4 course dinner, live music and dancing.

Reservations required.  Click here for more information and reservations.


Robert Renzoni Vineyards

Live music Sundays

2p-5p; Closed Super Bowl Sunday – February 3


South Coast Winery Resort & Spa

Romantic Runaway Wedding Package

Let South Coast Winery’s expert cupids and event planners turn your short-term wedding into an unforgettable wedding fantasy.  Just add in up to 40 of your closest friends and family and $2,100 (inclusive) and your dream wedding becomes a reality!  Includes the ceremony location, 2 night stay for the Bride and Groom (the night before and the night of the wedding), Officiate, wedding cake, bouquet for bride/boutonniere for groom and sparkling wine for toast (1 glass per guest)

Call (866) 994-6379 ext. 7214 for more information or to book your special event.

Wine Lovers Package

Includes: Stay in Deluxe Luxury Villa tucked away in the Vineyards, Rose petals, Chocolate covered strawberries and sparkling wine, Ultimate wine tour and cheese pairing for two, Specially selected bottle of South Coast Winery wine in room, Mimosa breakfast for two, Discount passport booklet

Sunday-Thursday – $369 | Friday-Saturday – $419

To reserve, call (866) 994-6379

Love Package
Includes: Overnight stay in Deluxe Luxury Villa tucked away in the Vineyards, Trailing rose petals, Specially Selected bottle of South Coast Winery wine in room, Discount passport booklet

Sunday-Thursday – $199 | Friday-Saturday – $249

For more information or to reserve, call (866) 994-6379

Vineyard Rose Restaurant

Romantic Valentine’s Dinner

Thursday, February 14

Seatings between 5:30p-9:30p; $95 per person with wine, plus tax and gratuity | $75 per person without wine, plus tax and gratuity

This Valentine’s Day bring your true love to the Vineyard Rose Restaurant for a truly spectacular pairing of fine wine, great food, and of course, ROMANCE!  Then simply sit back and enjoy music by David Maldonado as our talented team of staff members and “cupids” take care of the rest.

To RSVP, please call (951) 587-9463 ext. 7237

Grapeseed Spa

Total Decadence Special

This limited time Total Decadence Package includes 50-minute upper body Warm-Stone Relaxation Massage with rich emollients of May Cheng Oil and body butter, a Vanilla Peppermint Foot Massage, a Sugar-Kissed Hand Treatment. Finish with an award winning glass of sparkling wine and truffles to share as you snuggle up in an oversized chaise lounge on the spa’s spacious veranda overlooking Mount Palomar.

Special Price $119 (regular price: $162)

For reservations, call (866) 994-6379 | Booking code: Valentine.  Not valid with any other discounts, promotions or offers.  Available Feb 10 though 17, 2013 only.

Lemongrass Ritual

Encounter the healing qualities of the ancient art of warm stones and chakra centers.  This 50 minute spa ritual commences with richly infused butters and oils of Thai Lemongrass and ginger.  Relax as the back is massaged with warm stones.  Continue this healing ritual with the warm stones placed on the chakras of the heart and body to rebalance, unwind and soothe mind, body and spirit.  Leave your heart and soul thoroughly nourished, while a keepsake gift of the soothing oil is packaged to take home with you.

Special Price $105 (regular price: $145)

For reservations, call (866) 994-6379 | Booking code: Lemongrass. Not valid with any other discounts, promotions or offers.  Available February 1 through March 31, 2013.


Thornton Winery

Romantic Rendezvous

Thursday, February 14


$90 per person, plus tax and gratuity; Four course wine-paired dinner.

Reservations required: Call (951) 699-0099.

Valentine’s Day at Café Champagne

Seatings from 5:00p-9:00p

Special Valentine’s Menu $9-$42

Reservations recommended by calling (951) 699-0099

Art of Winetasting Workshop

Saturday, February 16


Champagne Class; $35 per person | $31.50 wine club members

Reservations required: Call (951) 699-0099.


Temecula Valley wine country is an idyllic, easily-accessible, year-round wine destination where visitors can experience premium winemaking in a warm, welcoming atmosphere along with fine dining, stunning scenery and exciting events.




Reminder! 10 Days Left for World of Wine Discount Tickets – Now Through February 3

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

There’s only 10 days left to get $10 off the 23nd Annual “World of Wine” Winter Barrel Tasting Weekend!

Saturday and Sunday, March 2-3, 2013

Get your tickets now!

The first passport event of 2013 offers two days of barrel samples, delicious food pairings and quality time with Southern California winemakers – plus fresh culinary events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

World of Wine in Temecula Valley is the perfect weekend of wine tasting for Southern California families, friends and couples.

For the first time ever, this up-and-coming wine region has added a limited number of exclusive dining and tour experiences to complement the 23rd Annual World of Wine passport weekend.

One of three annual events hosted by the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association, World of Wine offers passport holders a chance to sample both wine and food at 35 wineries along an easy circuitous route via Rancho California and DePortola Roads.

Extra WoW for 2013!

*Please note, there are limited tickets available for these new VIP eventscheck back soon for more details and to purchase tickets!

  • Friday and Saturday Winemaker Dinners at Thornton Winery and Baily Winery
  • Gourmet Sunday brunch at The Restaurant at Ponte
  • Sunday Vineyard Walks at participating wineries


WHAT:      22nd Annual “World of Wine” Winter Barrel Tasting Weekend

WHEN:      March 2 – 3, 10am to 4:30pm

WHERE:  Temecula Valley wine country; 60-90 mins from San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County and Palm Springs

HOW:     Self-guided passport event, where guests can visit 35 member wineries at their own pace; winery map and souvenir tasting glass provided for each guests to keep

TICKETS: 2-Day Tickets: $89 Early Bird (through Feb 3); $99 thereafter.  Sunday-Only Tickets: $79.  Local residents of Temecula/Murrieta, 2-Day Tickets: $79. Designated Driver (food only) Tickets: $69. Call (800) 801-9463 for tickets by phone or purchase online at TemeculaWines.org/Events.


WoW + Ride Packages are available for a safe tasting weekend; The Grapeline Wine Country Shuttle is offering several all-inclusive packages ranging from $59-$189 ($10 off if booked prior to Feb. 1st); other transportation companies include Executive VIP Shuttle, Sunset Limousines and West Coast Chauffeur & Transportation.  For more packages, please visit TemeculaWines.org/Events.

WoW + Stay Packages are available through The Inn at Europa Village and South Coast Winery Resort & Spa, located in wine country. For more information or to book an overnight stay, please visit TemeculaWines.org/Events.

*Please note, lodging usually sells out in advance.


See you there!



Temecula Valley Wine Country Celebrates California Restaurant Month!

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

 Some content courtesy of the Temecula Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau

Food and wine-lovers are invited to experience California Restaurant Month in Temecula Valley with special prix fixe/fixed-price lunch and dinner menus and other promotions at participating winery restaurants now through January 31. A perfect opportunity to enjoy Temecula wines where they’re made, along with food created especially to pair with them.

“This is the unique opportunity-of-the-year to taste the quality wine country cuisine that Temecula Valley’s talented chefs are cooking up at especially attractive prices,” encourages Kimberly Adams, Temecula Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau president and CEO.

What has attracted top chefs from all over Southern California to take up roots in Temecula Valley wine country? A local chef explains, ‘I love the bounty of farms, ranches and vineyards we have here. The weather is perfect, the food is fresh, the wine is handcrafted and the locals are welcoming!’

January is an excellent time to visit the 35+ wineries in Temecula Valley. Less-busy weekdays promise the potential for conversations with the chefs and winemakers.

Throughout this month, the following Temecula Valley wineries are offering delicious prix-fixe menus and special pricing! It’s the perfect time to dine in wine country. Click on each restaurant below for more details…

Creekside Grille at Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards

Enjoy seasonal ingredients and award-winning wines in the relaxed alfresco dining room; 951.699.9463

Click here for California Restaurant Month menu & pricing!

Meritage at Callaway Vineyard & Winery

Chef Mike Henry uses local and organic Ingredients to produce tapas, salads and entreés with a Mediterranean flair; 951.676.4001

Click here for California Restaurant Month menu & pricing!

The Pinnacle at Falkner Winery

The Pinnacle offers great panoramic views of the vineyards, outstanding food and quality service; 951.676.8231

Click here for California Restaurant Month menu & pricing!

Shorty’s Bistro at Mount Palomar Winery

Sit down to a diverse array of Mediterranean-inspired dishes from sandwiches and gyros to stone-oven pizzas; 951.676.5047

Click here for California Restaurant Month menu & pricing!

Cafe Champagne at Thornton Winery

Country French elegance combines with “Contemporary Fusion Cuisine” to create a well-rounded flair for the total gourmet experience; 951.699.0088

Click here for California Restaurant Month menu & pricing!

The Vineyard Rose at South Coast Winery Resort & Spa

Delight your palate with contemporary California wine country cuisine in an elegant Tuscan-style setting; 951.587.WINE [9463]

Click here for California Restaurant Month menu & pricing!

MDO Bistro at Monte De Oro

Enjoy Californian contemporary cuisine with fantastic vineyard views at MDO Wine Bar & Bistro; 951.491.6551

Click here for California Restaurant Month menu & pricing!


Plus! On Sunday, January 20th, The Grapeline Wine Country Shuttle’s popular “Vineyard Picnic Wine-Tasting Tour” will feature bonus ‘foodie’ presentations by locally-acclaimed chefs. Grapeline’s Vineyard Picnic Tour includes an informative winemaking tour, wine tasting at 4 unique wineries, and a gourmet picnic lunch in a scenic wine-country setting.


About California Restaurant Month

California Restaurant Month is a promotional initiative created by Visit California designed to encourage post-holiday, January travel to the Golden State, and to continue to position the state as the top culinary destination.

For more details, including City of Temecula restaurant menus and promotions, please see RestaurantMonth.org/Restaurants.




Temecula Valley Wine Country Recipe: Zinfandel Cupcakes

Friday, January 11th, 2013

Zinfandel Chocolate Cupcakes

Recipe Courtesy of Briar Rose Winery, Temecula Valley Wine Country




1 box devils food cake mix, such as Betty Crocker

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup Briar Rose 2008 Estate Zinfandel wine

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

For the frosting

6 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup butter, softened

1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup Briar Rose 2008 Estate Zinfandel wine

Garnish with chocolate curls



Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan).

Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups. Make cake batter as directed on box, using cake mix, water, 1/2 cup wine, oil and eggs. Stir in chocolate chips.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups (about two-thirds full). Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

In large bowl, beat powdered sugar, butter, cocoa and salt with electric mixer on low speed until blended. Beat in 1/2 cup wine. If frosting is too thick, beat in more wine a few drops at a time. Frost cupcakes. Garnish with chocolate curls.



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