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Having a Tuscan time in Temecula – Orange County Register

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When I moved to Southern California 30-some years ago, Temecula was pretty much nothing but cattle ranches. Now, past the sprawling suburbia, a beautiful burgeoning wine country beckons. Or so everyone seemed to be telling me. I decided to escape for a weekend to see it for myself.

My destination for the weekend: the Carter Estate Winery and Resort. As we all know, leaving on a Friday afternoon from Orange County is challenging, no matter where you are going. As I creep my way through the endless mass of homes, suddenly I cross some hidden boundary, and all I can see in front of me is the expanse of green rolling hills of the Temecula wine country.

For a brief second, I actually feel like I’m driving in Tuscany. Many of the stucco and tiled roof tasting rooms sit perched on top of the rolling hills overlooking their picturesque vineyards below. Italian Cypress and olive trees with recognizable winery names such as Callaway, Falkner and Miramonte dot the two-lane road.

To get to the resort, you drive through an orchard of olive trees before arriving at Mediterranean-style freestanding bungalows in the middle of the quiet vineyards.

Upon checking in I’m given a door hanger with a list for the complimentary breakfast delivered to your door in the morning via a golf cart and two tasting tickets for the weekend. Each villa boasts a large sitting area, fireplace and king-size bed. I am excited by the thought of reading and having a glass of wine in the over-sized bath tub later.

I sit out on my patio overlooking the rows of vineyards with a glass of crisp Carter Estate Brut Methode Champenoise sparkling wine and toast the sunset. Not a bad way to end a week.

The Vineyard Rose restaurant at South Coast Winery Resort & Spa. (Photo by Karen Kelso)

I’ve made reservations at the Vineyard Rose Restaurant at
South Coast Winery Resort & Spa across the street. The pan-roasted salmon with pommes puree is not what I expect in cattle ranch land.

I really hate getting up early, but I had been told that the view of hot air balloons taking off early in the vineyards is breath-taking. Watching the brightly colored balloons in the golden morning light was indeed incredible. I decided right then to come back and book a ride to experience the bird’s-eye view of the vineyards below.

And what would a wine-tasting weekend getaway be without a spa experience? GrapeSeed Spa is located at the South Coast Winery Resort, the sister winery across the road also owned by Carter Estate proprietor Jim Carter. I requested an 80-minute Coconut Remedy Body Ritual where my skin was exfoliated
with brown sugar and Tahitian coconut shells until it glowed. A glass of pre-selected wine is offered after the massage. I’m not usually a hugger, but I felt pretty incredible and hugged my masseuse goodbye.

Feeling really relaxed, I sit down at the wine-tasting bar feeling a little sheepish because I have to tell them I can’t drink red wines. They take it in stride and offer me a variety of five spectacular award-winning whites; 2014 Carter Estate Chardonnay; 2014 Carter Estate Vineyard Private Reserve Viognier, Carter Estate Vineyard Musque Clone Sauvignon Blanc, Carter Estate Blanc de Blanc and 2014 Blanc de Noir (both sparkling). Even though Champagne can only be produced in the Champagne region of France, their Methode Champenoise sparkling wines were remarkably good – so good I had to buy a couple bottles. I also purchased some of the olive oil I sampled from their trees on the property.

As I’m leaving the resort and I’m back out on curvy two-lane road that cuts through the valley, it reminds me of traveling through Napa years ago. My niece recently got married in Napa and while it was still beautiful, the traffic made it maddening and less beautiful. I’m hoping the Temecula wine country keeps its beauty and its charm.

A hot air balloon floats over the Temecula Valley in the early morning. (Photo by Karen Kelso)

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Jeff Stearman

Jeff has experienced much success in his many years as a Realtor, consistently ranking in the Top 1% of Realtors nationally as well as the Top Agent locally. Jeff also has an MBA and Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI) designation and is Certified Short Sale Specialist and Distressed Property Negotiator and Expert. Jeff has a firm grasp on today’s real estate market and is an expert in all areas of residential real estate, including: traditional sales, residential income properties, vacation properties, luxury homes, as well as distressed properties. Additionally, with his background in mortgage & financial consulting, Jeff can help you understand the numbers side of real estate and offer valuable advice on the different types of home loans and financing options that you could take advantage of. His clients say: "If you want something done, ask a busy Realtor.” The Stearman Group has successfully sold over 3,000 homes because they carefully work with their clients to create successful solutions. They strive to solve your individual housing needs-one client at a time. His team gives only the Best Personalized Service to each of their clients every single time.

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