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Are any of the restaurants at the Temecula wineries worth it?

I'm planning on going wine tasting 2 or 3 days on my first visit to San Diego at the end of the summer. Should I look into any of the restaurants at the wineries? I have a big list of restaurants to pare down in San Diego and La Jolla, but it'd be nice to eat at a winery, if its worth it.

Also, are the winery happy hours good?

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  1. sarah, please indicate in your post title the area or city

    thanks

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    1. Most of the wineries in Temecula are not worth tasting, you may wish to get some picnic goodies and go to Orfila, in Escondido, and sit under the shade of grape vines and enjoy the view. Their wine is some of the best in the area. Also, there are a lot of dining options in Escondido.

      3 Replies
      1. re: cstr

        I disagree. There are some good to decent wines to be had at very competitive prices in Temecula. Sure, it's not Napa but it's also a lot closer and 1/10th the price making it a good value. Wilson Creek has the best wines (I especially like their almond wood aged champagne) while South Coast Winery has the nicest gardens/picnic grounds. My suggestion is skip the over priced restaurants and have a picnic.

        1. re: oerdin

          I've had Wilson Creek a couple of times, it's definately an acquired taste. I don't think is even fair to compare Temecula to Napa, totally different growing conditions etc.

          1. re: oerdin

            First let's make sure we call it almond sparkling wine and second it sounds nauseating. I think the prettiest view in Temecula is from Cafe Champagne, but I have found the food hit or miss.

        2. Cafe Champagne at Thornton Winery is very nice and is probably the best restaurant in the area. Also the wine dinners at Callaway Winery with guest chefs are terrific. Check the website for the summer schedule. Don't be disuaded from visting Temecula's wineries, no one will mistake Temecula for Napa, but it's still a lot of fun.

          1. I agree - Temecula is no Napa Valley, but there are still some good wines to be found and it's certainly still fun to do some tastings. Longshadow Ranch has an awesome picnic area, but I'm not too fond of their wines (they're okay for tasting, but I wouldn't buy any bottles).

            We're fans of Leonesse (off De Portola Road) and their new Block 5 restaurant is pretty good. It's also not too ridiculously expensive (like the one at South Coast). I don't like the restaurant at Maurice Carie, although their brie in sourdough (that you can buy by the loaf) makes a tasty snack.

            I find Wilson Creek to be overhyped - it just gets more and more crowded and you can buy their almond champagne at Costco for $9 (instead of $16 at the winery).

            Ponte has the Smokehouse Restaurant, which makes a nice lunch visit, if you can get a table (or make reservations).

            2 Replies
            1. re: leanneabe

              I would also 2nd Leonesse and Ponte as two good places for lunch. South Coast was ok. I have not been to the new incarnation of the restaurant at Callaway. but it tends to get super crowded. Wilson Creek is not worth the alcohol. Hart is still the class of the valley.

              1. re: littlestevie

                I will second Hart as a winery, they don't have a restaurant, but if you want to picnic, they have tables where you can sit and sip and knosh. Hart is a family owned and run winery. Joe Hart is a Temecula pioneer and has developed a style of his own as opposed to the much larger corporate owned neighbors of his.

            2. I think Cafe Champagne is nice but not worth it...maybe a cheese course while wine tasting. I have been to a couple other restaurants and they were not impressive.

              1. Meritage at the Callaway Winery in Temecula is rather good.

                1. If you are there at lunch time, try Carol's at the Baily winery. The winery has a decent selection of red's like cabernet and merlot and the last time I was there, the chardonnay wasn't bad either.

                  The Baily family has a restaurant in the "Old Town" section of Temecula called Baily's fine dining, which is upstairs from the "less-than-fine dining" downstairs. The food is good on both floors, it's a different style of menu upstairs.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: araknd

                    I second Baily's. The last time I was there, the tasting at their winery was by far the best of any of the wineries we went to. As opposed to the "buffet-style" tastings at the larger ones, or the overly-decorated retail-oriented ones where they try to get you in and out as fast as possible.

                    The tasting at Baily's was very personable. The guy who poured for us was very helpful and knowledgeable about the wines, beyond the normal thing of just repeating what kind of grape it is and the way it was aged. Not to mention that I seem to remember that some of their wines had actually won some decent awards.

                    1. re: cookieshoes

                      Bailey's also carries some varieties of Winchester Gouda, nice snack to have while in temecula!