LOS ANGELES: Imagine a magical destination that greets you with rolling hills on a vineyard filled countryside. This spectacular location includes tall Italian cypress trees, exclusive wineries and a personalized two-course breakfast experience, created by a “renowned” Chef. Boy wouldn’t that be even better if this was closer than, let’s say, Tuscany?
Travelers, Tuscany fans and foodies will find a taste of Tuscany in Los Angeles. Just head a bit south to Southern California where an abundance of food, wine, and fun can be found.
The Inn at Europa Village
Only 83 miles outside of Los Angeles, heading towards San Diego, The Inn at Europa Village holds a very special place in my heart, from her vineyards to the magical people behind the scenes that make all the magic happen.
Driving through suburban Temecula the hustle and bustle of big city LA drops away. The old west merging with the new west including Festivals, breweries and creative savory dining. After all, a yummy meal after a day of adventure never hurt anybody.
Driving up the winding drive lined with vineyards and the whimsically shaped Italian Cypress trees, you are in full view of the ever so charming Inn. She sits on a hill, high above the village, watching over the valley. She is a mission style, 10 room bed, and breakfast that is run by Chef Dean and his wife Nicole.
An honest travel moment means making a connection with and feel transformed by where you are. You immediately want to return. Which makes this my 3rd time at the Inn. Check-in details are handled online, giving a feeling of visiting friends, not completing a business transaction. It is like visiting a long lost relative. In reality, it was Chef Dean full of his quirky humor and fun banter greeting us.
This is a huge perk for me when starting a getaway.
The Inn at Europa Village: More than just a bed and breakfast
The grounds at the Inn offer many little-landscaped levels with adorable sitting areas to take in panoramic views of the vineyards, flowers, gardens, and a cork wishing well. Make sure to take time to visit the 6ft. wide fire pit sitting under the open sky and the massive hot tub down the path, which is respectfully hidden out of direct view of the other guests at the Inn.
Part of the stay at the Inn includes perks! Who doesn’t love perks? How about wine tastings at area wineries at a phenomenal two-for-one perk. Ask for a local winery map and, with Chef Dean eager to share his favorite restaurants around town, and a day of wine tasting is ahead.
A Day in Southern California
Europa village sits towards the beginning of winery row. Approaching The Inn from the old town Temecula side, grab an early dinner at the next door winery, Miramonte. Their restaurant ‘Flower Hill Bistro’ is just fantastic.
Beautifully decorated rooms such as the Syrah Room, with its balcony perfect for enjoying a glass of wine and the setting sun setting reflecting off the beautiful Temecula Valley.
Following dinner, put the finishing touches on the evening with a walk down to the hot tub under the stars.
Breakfast at the Inn, a culinary version of “The Greatest Showman”
Staying at the Inn means enjoying “The Breakfast Experience” a two-course breakfast made in-house, farm to table with all locally grown ingredients. The uncharted but enticing waters, of a true “culinary circus.” Continuing the analogy, it was as if witnessing P.T Barnum, the chef, unleashing his gifts for the world to take in.
Ladies and gentlemen the show begins.
Once the guests are seated, place settings are placed and just like swift magic, you are presented with a decadent first course! Your jaw will hit the floor when you see the decor of food placed on your plate. Chef Dean, in full chef attire, glides out from behind the “curtain” and takes his place center stage. All you hear is the soft sounds of the wind chimes and we wait patiently for opening lines.
He effortlessly addresses his guests with poise and humor and paints the picture of what has been created for our pleasure. Chef Dean takes us on the journey of the dish, creating some serious food envy. It is testing of one’s patience to not just dive into the martini glass filled with fresh, fragrant fruit that I am salivating over. The mixture of culture and eclectic but purposely chosen ingredients create the ultimate “Breakfast Experience.”
Plates were removed and just a smoothly as before a new even more mouthwatering dish is placed.
In full swing and I can not stress at how impressive the plates are. Simple good foods, healthful and natural. Perfectly created, beautifully plated. The realization that a plan was necessary to not overindulge to quickly. Pacing is crucial to enjoying all the farm-to-table bounty Chef Dean creates.
Chef Dean’s theory is that each plate should include five culinary aphrodisiacs. However, the entire plate, its design, co-mingled flavors, and smells create a sixth. After a visit to food heaven, we start our adventure for the day.
Wine Country Exploration
When in wine country, one tends to drink wine, and quite a bit of it. Temecula is on the verge of massive growth in the wine community.
She has already made quite the mark as being known as the “jewel” of Riverside County. I like to call it the new Napa, or a taste of Italy in Southern California.
Known for its diversity, the wineries here grow and produce over 50 different varietals of wine. After a few in-between stops around town we ended back home in Europa.
We can walk to our little village below and attend our last tasting excursion of the day.
Once you walk through the arches of the entrance, immediately you are transported to this old world charm. I love flowers and they are in stunning form at Europa.
Surrounded by vineyards and views you can’t help but fall in love with Europa Village.
A little bit about Europa and Temecula having some of the most ideal wine growing regions in America. In its development, there was the vision of bringing together traditional European wine and their high standards with Southern Californias rich terra firma.
Inspired by the beauty of the wine regions in France, Spain and Italy, the founders began their mission to bring Western Europe’s wines to Southern California.
The Village sits on 30 acres of vibrant vineyards. The rich “terroir” of Temecula Valley. The combination of the weather, soil and elevation work hand in hand to nurture the grapes to perfection. The first production of premium wines from the area in 2011.
Since then the village has blossomed with return guests and a growing fan club that enjoy hospitality to match the old world charm and beauty.
The entire staff at Europa Village is just lovely, you really can get jealous of how much fun they have on the job, as well as their camaraderie. I think wine helps:) I strongly feel that this should be considered by other career avenues. Wine hour keeps the employees happy.
Cruising Europa Wines with Dr. Doug Garman
However, there is one man in particular that stands out. He also comes with quite the long list of recommendations from around the valley: “Dr. Doug”
Dr. Douglas Garman, Ph.D, a 35-year educator is now the wine educator and sommelier for Europa Village. He was one of the first employees for the village and the bar he set for others to follow is high. For the extreme wine lovers out there, Europa Village offers a wine education program lead by Dr. Doug.
How lucky we were, having our last tasting of the day with the legend himself. Dr. Doug’s, as well as the wine fans, enthusiasm kicks up a notch as he explains what is coming to Europa Villages. Pulling out the map and vision of what is coming to Europa Village we learn that up above in the higher terrain, pieces of France, Italy, and Spain will be coming with a new Village resort and restaurant concepts.
It is easy to envision a beautiful Swiss-style ski chalet, but in place of snow; vineyards! Each winery paying homage to the vines, grapes, and wines that inspired them. With Dr. Doug and chef Dean Thomas at the helm of the project, only good things will come to this new little world.
“C’est la Vie” 2015 Counoise
The C’est la Vie 2015 Counoise wins Gold with 95 points at California State Fair and it is easy to see why. The notes describe this wine as featuring wild strawberries, rose petals, Mediterranean herbs, black pepper. Fleshy ripe dark cherry on the palate, smooth tannins and a perfectly balanced acidity lingers on.
Smooth, and romantic, this is the wine taken home for that special occasion with that special person – Valentines Day. shared with a special person for an anniversary. So the memory made with C’est la Vie is immensely special to me. The wine paired wonderfully with a rich truffle Gnocchi with artichoke hearts and mushrooms and garlic butter lobster tail.
Leaving the village after our “wine tour” and in heavenly bliss, a leisurely walk up the hill ends in a romantic and relaxing evening. Magnificent sunsetting, shooting star hunting, a relaxing hot tub and the calming blaze of the firepit.
The Inn at Europa Village
Waking up, stretching languidly, heavenly scents wafting from the kitchen means quickly wandering down the staircase and back to the patio. This morning, Chef Damien who has worked with Chef Dean for over 10 years, greets us. He takes on the role of Grand Master Showman. He is as well versed as Chef Dean, equally kind and full of culinary knowledge.
This breakfast took us on a whole new farm to table experience.
I could definitely get used to having a two-course breakfast experience every day. The chorizo stuffing came in the most adorably sized cast iron skillet.
Ending our food and wine adventure in Temecula.
With bottles of wine in hand and full bellies the walk down the winding entrance is slow and measured was we wave goodbye to our favorite little inn. A very special place that makes us feel like we are in the mountains of Tuscany, without the need to leave Southern California.
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