Tag Archives: winery

Longshadow Ranch

We’ve visited many of the Temecula valley wineries; however, the one that keeps us coming back is Longshadow Ranch.  Yesterday we went on our seventh annual Grape Escape – this time in honor of our friend Megan who is moving to England and celebrating her birthday.

We made stops at two other wineries along the trail, but Longshadow Ranch still stood out as my favorite.  Why? The comfort of the venue and the animals. And the wine is good too.

Longshadow Ranch is the place we take a break and picnic.  The staff is amenable to large groups and the tastings are done mostly outside where there is plenty of room.  What’s more, the entire winery is filled with animals, including horses, goats and dogs.

In the evenings sometimes and on special occasions,  the winery offers live music on its stage.  This place is definitely worth a stop during any visit to Temecula.

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Curtis Winery

A trip to Santa Ynez valley is not complete without at least one stop at a winery to taste the local faire.  Being that we ran the half marathon in the morning and only had 1.5 hours of sleep the night before due to a very late arrival in the valley, we had to go back to our hotel post-race for a nap.

In the back tasting room at Curtis Winery

Once we woke up, prettied up and got on the road, it was pushing 5 o’clock.  Something you should know about the Santa Ynez valley is that there aren’t many places open past dark.  Rookie mistake on our part. 

We hit the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail a little too late and the first two places we stopped at were no longer pouring. Fortunately, when we arrived at Curtis Winery, they were open until 5:30 p.m. and happily let us in.

Peter's Dog

Curtis Winery is a beautifully modern establishment with a warm and cozy feel.  When you purchase a tasting, you don’t chose what you want to try, they automatically go down the list of six excellent options, starting with three whites. 

The winery is known for its Rhône-style wines grown right in the Santa Ynez Valley.  While I thoroughly enjoyed all of the tastes, my first favorite part of the winery was the wine pourer Peter’s adorable little dog who greeted guests, gave them kisses and followed his dad no matter where he went.

My second favorite part were the chocolate truffles for sale that complimented the red wines perfectly. 

With that many wineries on the trail, it is really becomes the little things that make a difference.  Curtis Winery is a fantastic stop on any tour.

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Brunch at Bellefleur

We had some family come to town this past weekend and we wanted to take them out for a special treat on Sunday morning.  What better way to enjoy your company than over a smorgasbord of food?

Before our trip to the Flower Fields in Carlsbad, we went to BelleFleur Restaurant and Winery for brunch.  I’ve never seen such a diverse spread at such a low price.  For $21.95 for adults or $9.95 for children, you are given options beyond what you could imagine.

  • carving stations
  • omelette bars
  • Mexican entrees
  • pastries
  • desserts
  • cheese board
  • fresh seafood
  • pizza
  • entrees – chicken parmesan, macaroni and cheese, meatballs, macadamia nut crusted mahi mahi, fried chicken
  • soups
  • salads
  • taco bar

And so much more …  the list could go on and on.  On top of the great food, brunch comes with free-flowing mimosas or champagne. 

Plus, when you roll out of the restaurant, you literally walk right into the Carlsbad Premium Outlets for shopping.  Almost like an adult Disneyland scenario.   Not bad, if you ask me.


Filed under Activities, Drinks, Eats, Family, Restaurants, Shopping, Sights

Hacienda de las Rosas

Old Town San Diego is known for its Mexican food and historic charm, but little did I know in addition to margaritas there is a winery’s tasting room in the middle of the Fiesta de Reyes plaza.  The tasting room is owned by the Hacienda de las Rosas winery in Ramona.

Vintners William Holzhauer and Tammy Rimes started the winery in 1998. Over the years, they have planted the vineyards, built the horse facilities, developed a breeding program and constructed a winery where they embrace the essence of Spanish wine making traditions, making Old Town San Diego a perfect venue for their tasting room.

The tasting room is comfortable and the staff are knowledgeable about wine and Old Town history, as well.  If you’re strolling through the park, five tastes are only $10.  Give them a shot.

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The View from the Nest

It is no secret that I fantasize about some day living life on a farm filled with animals and crops.  If you tune into Martha Stewart from time-to-time she features people who have  done just that – gone from a high-paced corporate life to a seemingly simpler farming lifestyle. (Though we all know that farming is not simple work.)

A few years back I had the opportunity to visit my friend Lawrence Hornbake’s parent’s alpaca farm in Gettysburg and experience firsthand what these people are all about.  The Hornbake’s have one of the most interesting life stories around – he started out to be a monk and she a nun, both changed paths, met one another, worked in corporate America, started a few businesses on the side and now are full-time alpaca farmers.  Check out their great set-up here

I admire their ability to morph their passions into their careers and think of them often.  Yesterday, I got a taste of that same phenomenon again – right here in San Diego County. 

Dennis Grimes

We recently made some new friends, Dennis and Julie Grimes, who started Eagle’s Nest Winery in Ramona.  Julie is a college professor and Dennis is an engineer – both are military veterans.  They both grew tired of living on top of their neighbors in metropolitan San Diego, and decided to embrace a longer commute to work in exchange for space and living out their passion. 

They invited us up to their beautiful home and winery, which is where the wine is grown, processed and bottled.  Yesterday we decide to go visit.  When we arrived,we were greeted by Julie and their rescue Doberman pincer, Duke.  They welcomed us as if we were royalty and graciously showed us around the property, explaining each step of the wine-making process. 

I’ve tasted a lot of wine in my day, but never have I received such a thorough education and knowledge of each step – particularly by the people who own the winery and actually make the wine.  Each sample they gave us came straight from the barrel, had a story behind it and was made with lots of TLC. It goes without saying that they were all delicious and very drinkable, with premium taste at very average prices. All of the love and work put into each wine has paid off as Eagle’s Nest wines are starting to rack up awards for their excellence.

 My favorite part of the winery were the four-legged creatures that live there.  Aside from Duke, there are three darling mini-Shelties and three Babydoll sheep.  Each animal plays an integral part in the winery.  Duke is the main greeter, the Shelties add the colorful commentary and the sheep keep the weeds trimmed and the ground naturally fertilized.  The winery is a big place and the Grimes’ do not use pesticides or chemicals, so the sheep are employed as full-time groundskeepers. 

In return for their hard work, each animal has its picture on a label of one of Eagle’s Nest’s wines.  Our favorites were the one with Duke, one with the sheep and one with the Shelties. 

I left a piece of my heart with the Grimes family yesterday.  They invited us back again a we very well may take them up on it. Eagle’s Nest is a working winery without a formal tasting room for the  public.  They are always happy to make new friends so if you want to check it out, give them a call to set something up.  If you can’t make the trek any time soon, then you can always  buy the wine online here

If you are on Twitter and want to chat directly with Julie and Dennis, follow them @eaglesnestwine.

Buy local. Help your neighbors. Support small business.


Filed under Activities, Animals, Sights