A Taste of Italy in Temecula

Sometimes when I think of Temecula I think of cheesy wineries and annoying bachelorette parties, but the new Bottaia Winery has me reconsidering that notion with its new upscale refined wine country farmhouse experience, with stunning vineyard views backed up to a mountainous landscape. Adjacent to the Ponte Vineyard Inn Resort, relaxed Bottaia Winery grows and harvests only Italian varietals. Just a few months old, intimate Bottaia has emerged as a showstopper with over a dozen all-estate varietals. Apparently, Cabernet and Zinfandel grow better here than Napa. We fell in love with the 2014 Arneis Reserve, the 2014 Nero D’Avola, and 2013 Montepulciano Reserve although we heard Sangiovese is popular.

Bottaia Winery terrace views. (Photo credit: Mark McDavitt)

Upon arrival, doors are swept open as you are warmly greeted before check-in at the front desk (reservations preferred) for your experience of choice. Straight ahead lies the luxurious elegant lounge room with modern décor, tall ceilings, and grand windows to suck in the natural light. My eyes are drawn to the geometrical arching rooftop terrace aligning the bar that frames the expansive vineyard views outside, some 240 acres of vines. This outdoor patio is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of vino or a bottle while just gazing out at the expansive vineyard. To the right lies a pool area reminding me of the Hamptons with chaise lounge chairs, cabines (dressing room with shower), and a splash pad for kids, so this area unlike the rest of the property is family friendly.

The pool area next to the vineyard also offers café patio dining with sandwiches, salads, and Italian appetizers plus a full bar (not just wine) open to the public Wednesday to Sunday from 11 am to 7 pm. Check their website for day pass rates and cabine rentals but this is not needed if you are just eating. However, eventually the lounge, terrace, and pool with cafe will be exclusive to wine members, so visit now while you still have the privilege.

Bottaia’s poolside cafe.

Upon entering, off to the left is a barrel room for tastings while off to the right is a beautiful white classy room with high top tables reserved for private charcuterie and wine pairings – some right from the barrel. For $25, you can enjoy a barrel room tasting and split 3 reds and 3 whites with a 7thtasting out of one of their French oak cask barrels. Our expert server Zach lead us through a detailed and knowledgeable education of the wines as two charcuterie boards came out stuffed with perfectly paired selections of figs, nuts, burrata, tomato, dates, spreads, pates, meats, bread, cheeses, crackers, and my new favorite discovery – truffle honey!

Barrel Room tastings

Even though Bottaia is the sister property to Ponte, the wines are not the same. Here at Bottaia, you will find some of the best wines in Temecula. During our wine tasting flight journey, we learned Bottaia’s 45 acres will expand to 90 and that 8-10,000 cases a year of estate wines are harvested at the end of August to the end of December. Starting with the white Arneis 2016, we learn these Northern Italian wines are fermented in concrete then aged in oak because the oak lets more flavor in. Typically near Tuscany, they grow Sangiovese grapes but these are Montepulciano grapes in the Montepulciano 2013 reserve and Bottaia is the only vineyard who makes this wine in Temecula. The wine tasting experience is well worth the $50 with five pre-selected quality estate wines paired with a charcuterie board. The professional service and attention to detail are top notch, like what I have witnessed in Napa.

A room just for seated wine tastings paired with charcuterie

Another experience that may excite you that can only be found at Bottaia in Temecula is their wine blending lab that looks like a science room where guests can blend their own wine. Take home a souvenir bottle after corking and labeling one of five varietals. The small private room seems perfect for intimate parties, celebrations, gatherings, or company retreats.

Bottaia’s wine blending lab

No need to drive anywhere if you stay next door at the stunning boutique Ponte Vineyard Inn Resort with its lush manicured gardens. The hotel lobby and grounds feel historical, like an old-world Mission set on a 300-acre sanctuary. Our spacious bedroom with veranda looked out over the vineyard complete with lake, fountains, windmill, and distant mountain hugging views for a romantic cozy almost European feel. This wine country hotel also boasts a hot tub, Olympic sized pool, poolside bar and café, outdoor intimate bar, live music, and food in The Cellar bar, several raved about restaurants, and of course, wine tasting.

A trip to wine country in Temecula is no longer complete without time well spent at Bottaia and at least a night or two at Ponte Vineyard Inn Resort. Since the Temecula Valley Wine Country is celebrating a 50thanniversary this year, go – get away from it all, and celebrate in style.

Bedroom views from Ponte Vineyard Inn in Temecula

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