Wine & dine Temecula "staycation"

This wine tour and casino itinerary is an easy hour drive up I-15 away.

Clydesdales at Temecula's South Coast Winery.
  • Clydesdales at Temecula's South Coast Winery.

Confession time: as a San Diego resident, it took me almost a decade to go wine tasting in Temecula. I broke the spell when my best friend celebrated her birthday at Pechanga Resort and Casino. She planned the perfect weekend staycation, complete with a winery tour.

South Coast Winery, Temecula

What to expect

We arrived on a Friday night and settled in for the weekend. On Saturday morning, we met the Temecula Carriage Company at South Coast Winery for the tour. Upon arrival, a horse-drawn trolley pulled up to the curb. My inner equestrian geeked out when she saw two Clydesdales clip-clopping up the driveway. My friends and I took plenty of photos with the horses before boarding the trolley.

Coach dogs on the wine tour trolley.

Coach dogs on the wine tour trolley.

Once seated, the host explained the itinerary in the order of our trolley stops: Ponte Winery, Wiens Family Cellars, South Coast Winery, and Lorimar Winery. The host gave insightful suggestions for each winery and allowed us to bring our own cooler for water and snacks/lunch. Pro tip: you may bring your glass of wine aboard if you are unable to finish it by the time the trolley arrives. Our first stop, Ponte Winery, had the best atmosphere and the most diverse tasting menu. Wiens Family Cellars was spacious and inviting; we enjoyed having lunch (cheese and salami, yum!) on their wraparound porch. South Coast Winery’s large indoor tasting room opens to their breathtaking grounds. Our last stop, Lorimar Winery, had an impressive patio and offered live music.

Upon booze-influenced introspection, I realized that I prefer white wine to red wine. Is this what happens when you turn 30?

After taking group photos and a few selfies with the Clydesdales, we took an Uber back to Pechanga. We rounded out the evening with dinner at the Great Oak Steakhouse and tried our hands at gambling. I will admit that Pechanga has stepped up its game over the years. The casino side of the hotel feels like you're gambling in Vegas, and their theater regularly puts on concerts/shows. A highlight of the resort is their massive pool called “The Cove.” Comfortable lounge chairs, a swim-up bar, and a water slide? Yes, please.

Our staycation brought us some much-needed R&R. My friends and I are spread around California and we rarely get to see each other. I am thankful that we were able to celebrate my best friend’s birthday together. If you live within driving distance of Temecula, I highly recommend visiting for the weekend!

Winery group photo.

Winery group photo.

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Yes right now where it’s like a thousand degrees up there ? No thanks lol

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