Last Updated on July 2, 2022

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There’s nothing like waking up among the vines. That’s exactly what it felt like when we opened our villa door and stepped out onto the back patio to enjoy our morning coffee. And there they were, miles of verdant grapevines and vineyards as far as the eye could see. We were in wine country, and it felt so good.

Located less than 60 miles north of San Diego and 90 miles southeast of Los Angeles, Temecula Valley is the jewel of Southern California’s Riverside County. It’s still quite rural in nature, steadfastly practicing sustainable farming, and even boasting an agricultural preserve called the Citrus/Vineyard zone.

Temecula has an absolutely charming historic downtown district with a host of unbelievably amazing restaurants. But on this weekend visit, we were here for some serious winetasting, and we just happened to be staying at one of Temecula’s beautiful winery properties – Carter Estate Winery and Resort. A perfect place for a wine lover’s escape.

About Carter Estate Winery and Resort

Vine Ripening in Temecula. Photo by Michael Kompanik.
Vine Ripening in Temecula. Photo by Michael Kompanik.

Family owned and operated Carter Estates was founded by Jim Carter in 1995. Discovering the ideal conditions for wine growing, he purchased 400 acres in Temecula, and planted and nurtured the grapevines with his own hands.

Fast forward to today, and Jim’s spirit of adventure, love for his vines, and some great winemaking has resulted in Carter Estate garnishing over 2,000 distinguished rewards and medals for their wines. So don’t be surprised if you see Jim or another member of the Carter family around the estate as they are involved in every aspect of the winery and the resort.

Temecula Winery Lodging with Mediterranean Style

Luxury Bath at Carter Estates Winery & Resort. Photo by Michael Kompanik.
Luxury Bath at Carter Estates Winery & Resort. Photo by Michael Kompanik.

Carter Estates features 60 private luxurious and spacious bungalows surrounded by vineyards.

Accommodations range from Murphy Bed Bungalows to one-and-two-bedroom vineyard suites. And they are elegantly beautiful. Our 610 square foot King Bungalow was complete with a living room area that featured an electric fireplace with a flat screen TV above. This was fantastic for the evenings in Temecula bring cooling breezes in from the Pacific Ocean to the valley. Adding to the comfort, the pillow top mattress was incredibly soft and seductive after a day of exploring.

The villa also included a mini refrigerator, dinette area, as well as an outdoor patio with a private sitting area to enjoy the views. The spacious marble and granite bathroom featured an over-sized soaking tub (and yes, it was wonderful to relax with bubbles and a glass of wine). And there’s also a separate shower as well.

The Perfect Relaxing Stay in Temecula Wine Country

Complimentary Morning Breakfast Delivered to our Bungalow at Carter Estates Winery and Resort. Photo by Michael Kompanik.
Complimentary Morning Breakfast Delivered to our Bungalow at Carter Estates Winery and Resort. Photo by Michael Kompanik.

Each bungalow stay includes a pre-selected bottle of wine and complimentary continental breakfast for two delivered each morning. Guests choose their menu items the evening before and leave the list outside the door. At the exact time frame we selected, our piping hot food was promptly delivered to our bungalow with a huge hospitable smile.

Other pampering amenities included luxurious robes and upgraded bath products. Carter Estate also sports a lovely pool perfect for soaking up the California sun, including cabana rentals if you’re needing a little shade. The Poolside Vineyard Grill also offers food and beverages for purchase.

One of the Best Temecula Vineyards: Carter Estate Winery

Complimentary Morning Breakfast Delivered to our Bungalow at Carter Estates Winery and Resort. Photo by Michael Kompanik.
Complimentary Morning Breakfast Delivered to our Bungalow at Carter Estates Winery and Resort. Photo by Michael Kompanik.

Before my wife and I stayed at Carter Estate, it was one of our favorite Temecula wineries. Primarily because winemakers here have mastered the artistry of Méthode Champenoise. Yes, it’s true that champagne can technically only be made in the Champagne region of France, from grapes grown only there. However, champagne-style sparkling wines are made around the world under different appellations like Spain’s Cava, Italy’s Spumante, and Germany’s Sket.

Top-notch sparkling wine is all about the grapes and at Carter Estate they use only estate grown varietals for their exceptional products. Whether it’s indoors or outdoors, tasting room environs here are spectacular, not to mention the sunsets. Wine fans can relax, chill, and enjoy Carter’s award- winning red and white varietals in an awe-inspiring picturesque setting.

More Temecula Experiences

Temecula Hot Air Balloons. Photo by Michael Kompanik.
Temecula Hot Air Balloons. Photo by Michael Kompanik.

On this visit to Temecula, we planned a few other adventures that were also unforgettable. If you’ve never hot-air ballooned over the vineyards, we highly recommend it. There’s nothing like experiencing this picturesque wine region from a bird’s eye view.

Book a hot air balloon ride for your Temecula trip

You’ll have to get up at the crack of dawn, however, to experience the spectacular morning sun rising over the mountains of the Temecula Valley. We have taken two balloon tours and honestly, there’s nothing like it.

Carriage Ride or Horseback Through the Vineyards

Horseback Riding Through the Vineyards at Carter Estates Winery and Resort.
Horseback Riding Through the Vineyards at Carter Estates Winery and Resort.

If you really want the royal treatment, how about a horse-drawn carriage tour? Temecula Carriage Company offers private carriage rides through the Temecula vineyards with an additional option of apicnic lunch or spending a romantic evening under the stars. Or you can choose a horse-drawn trolley that visits three wineries with tastings included.

Another of our favorites is actually riding through the vineyards on horseback. Wine Country Trails by Horseback offers 90-minute scenic guided tours through this beautiful vineyard valley on gentle horses led by seasoned knowledgeable guides. As incredible as the experience of clippity-clopping through the vines, the story of how the company started is quite inspirational.

Take a sidecar ride through Temecula wine country

Local owner Diana Lefort with the help of a local veterinarian has rescued, rehabilitated, and trained more than 50 starving or abused horses. And many of these are the very mounts guests are privileged to ride. Of course, you may get one like mine who loved the vineyard so much, he would intermittently stop to munch delightfully on the grape leaves before catching up with the other horses. It was an amazing experience that ended with wine tasting at one of Temecula’s other lovely wineries.

While many visitors to Temecula can come up for a day of wine tasting and discovery, there’s nothing quite like staying in the heart of wine country itself and really getting to experience the many treasures of this region. After all, it was our Native Americans who named this area Temecula – “Land where the sun shines through the mist.” We couldn’t possibly describe it any better.

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