Wednesday, September 11, 2013

dining in a vineyard . . .

I thought this would be a lovely post to share again, especially after recently hosting a casual dinner with friends . . . black Corinthian table grapes and sun-dried marigolds.

Although we weren't in a vineyard, the beautiful clusters of grapes and simple & delicious menu reminded me so much of when my husband and I spent an afternoon dining in a vineyard in the Temecula Valley. 
.     .     .     .     .     .     .

Dining in a vineyard . . .

Have you ever seen Chef Michael Chiarello's show on The Food Network called Easy Entertaining?  
  
Michael Chiarello is an award-winning chef and owner of critically acclaimed Bottega restaurant in the Napa Valley. He made his mark by combining his Southern Italian roots with the distinctive hallmarks of Napa Valley living.  If there is such a thing as Napa Style dining and entertaining, he is it!  



I enjoy watching Easy Entertaining because of Chef Chiarello's easy-going nature and fresh, family style recipes. 

My favorite episodes are the ones where he's entertaining guests in his patio and vineyard.  

There's just something magical about it . . . a long vintage farmhouse table covered in natural linen, paired with mis-match chairs . . . and surrounded by ever-running trellises draped in gorgeous green foliage and clusters of grapes. And the best part . . . the food! Large, gorgeous stoneware bowls filled with fresh and vibrant dishes, passed guest to guest . . . and enjoyed in a unique and beautiful setting.  (Ok, so when's the next train to Napa!?!)


  
Dining at a Winery & Vineyard doesn't just have to be about the wine. Restaurants found at Winery's are also known for their incredibly fresh menus. Their mission is to support seasonal, sustainable, and most importantly, local growers and food purveyors.  And the product . . . beautiful, fresh, and exceptional-tasting food.  

So when my husband asked me a few weeks ago what I wanted to do for my birthday, it took me all of 15 seconds to say, "I want to dine in a vineyard!" 

He was surprised since we don't drink wine (or alcohol), but after explaining my desire to experience Napa Style dining, he said "Well, ok then!"  
  
We decided to stay somewhat close to home, and ventured south to Temecula Valley.  

  

Nestled between rolling hills of vineyards in the heart of Temecula Valley's Wine Country, we spent the afternoon dining at Callaway Vineyard & Winery's Meritage Restaurant.

Perched atop one of the hills, Meritage offers terrace dining with stunning views. 

We dined on the lowest terrace, which was great, because we sat ground level with the vineyard.  
  

~ Meritage at Callaway ~


~ view of Meritage from adjacent hilltop ~

~ entrance to Meritage at Callaway ~

~ located at the entrance of the restaurant ~
~ clusters of grapes ~

 ~ the view from our table ~
  

Meritage's Executive Chef Michael Henry released a new Spring inspired menu in April. 

He uses local, sustainable, and organic ingredients to produce the tapas, salads and entreés with a true artisan style and Mediterranean flair.  
  

I don't know about you, but I like to select NEW dishes that I've never had before when dining out with family and friends, especially when it's a special occasion. It makes the occasion that much more memorable.  

So . . . for our afternoon at Meritage, we chose . . .  


Prime Natural Angus Hangar Steak 
with a peppercorn aioli sauce, Chimichurri, Market Vegetable & Steak Fries 

~ and ~
Pan-seared, then oven-baked sea bass, 
with a smoked paprika aioli sauce, market vegetables and steak fries  


We also enjoyed a unique beverage . . . ginger lemonade

It was a wonderful compliment to our meals, as it offered a light, fresh taste with a little bite.

And for dessert . . . Pistachio Cannolis and fresh berries!  



Our trip to Callaway Winery and Vineyard wouldn't have been complete without a leisurely stroll around the estate.  

Here are a few of my favorite photos . . . 

~ yellow rose bushes lined many walkways ~

~ bright & beautiful flowers everywhere ~

~ hilltop adjacent to Meritage with 360 degree view ~ 

~ looking down towards the entrance of Callaway Winery &Vineyard ~
  
  

  ~ clusters of grapes ~

~ vineyard view from hilltop ~

We also visited their Shop . . . so many pretties!   
            
             I love this idea . . .
  
~ grapevine wreaths are used as plate chargers ~


The employees of Callaway made their logo using wine corks (seen below). 

This piece of art is displayed on the wall behind the reception/cashier desk. 

It's quite large and stunning . . .  



I loved our afternoon get-away, and highly recommend grabbing your spouse, or a few friends, and visiting a vineyard for its beautiful surroundings and inspired menus. 


~  ~  ~  ~  ~

For a little extra fun, we drove though Old Historic Downtown Temecula on our way home . . . and stopped into Old Town Root Beer Company

My husband is a huge fan of root beer, so this stop was great! 

Hundreds of bottles of root beer to choose from, as well as other nostalgic sodas. 

We wrapped up our venture with a Root Beer Float made with Old Town Root Beer Company's very own brewed root beer!    

Thanks honey, for a delightful afternoon! 
  








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20 comments:

  1. that was delightfully fun, really enjoyed your travels. i live between napa and sonoma, the crush is on so fun to see your shots~

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    1. Dear 'a quiet life,'

      Before my blogging days, my husband and I toured Napa and Sonoma, and also visited Vineyards in that area for their cuisine. Your region is breath-taking. I hope to return again one day.
      Have a beautiful weekend,
      Suzanne

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  2. The food at the restaurant looked stunning!!! I wanted to drool onto my keyboard, particularly when looking at that gorgeous cannolli! Thanks for sharing some snaps of your day with us. Beautiful scenery, gorgeous wines. I'm putting Callaway on my travel list for when I finally get out of the country again. Sigh. Happy Birthday beautiful!! xx

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  3. First Happy Belated Birthday. I just love the winery's especially Callaway. Your pictures are beautiful. I have been there about 4 times taking customers there when I was in the work force. Once we had lunch under the grape vines which they bbq chicken and it was the best i have ever had. Now this has been about 15 years ago and they didn't have a restaurant only catered parties out on patio with grape harbors overhead. But the food was outstanding. Thanks for triggering my memories.
    It sounds like you had a wonderful day. I also love root beer floats.
    So glad I found you, I am your newest follower. Stop by and see my gardens and such.
    Have a great week.
    Mary

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    Replies
    1. Dear Mary!

      I'm so happy you came by and shared your story. You made my morning!
      Thanks so much for coming by!
      Please come back again soon.
      Have a beautiful week,
      Suzanne

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  4. Looks like a delightful outing and dining experience.

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    1. Hi Tammy!
      Thanks for coming by!
      Have a beautiful week,
      Suzanne

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  5. Looked like a lovely place to dine! The food looks divine. I am hopefully dining al fresco style in Tuscany next month, so exciting!

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    Replies
    1. Oh my! I am so envious!
      I hope you plan on sharing your al fresco dining adventures with us!
      Thanks for coming by!
      Have a beautiful week,
      Suzanne

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  6. One of our favorite things is to visit the wine country and enjoy their samplings and dinner. This looks amazing. Beautiful pictures and the food looks absolutely amazing. Sounds like the perfect day. Thanks tons for linking to Inspire Me. Hugs, Marty

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  7. What a fun post to read ! I enjoyed it immensely :)

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    1. Thanks, Deb!
      So happy you came by and enjoyed your visit.
      Have a beautiful week,
      Suzanne

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  8. I love Nappa and Sonoma we don't drink alcohol either but those wineries and scenic views are some of my all time favorites! Love all your pics!
    Karin
    http://thestylesisters.blogspot.com/2013/09/centerpiece-wednesday-93.html

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  9. I so enjoyed your post. My husband I have visited wineries in Tuscany, the Napa Valley, the Old Mission Pennisula in northwest Michigan, and so many other places. We love visiting and dining as you have here. There are always beautiful memories to go with good wine, food, and the wineries themselves. Thanks for sharing your memories!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jodee!
      I enjoyed reading your comment!
      One of my dreams is to travel to Italy, and spend time in Tuscany doing exactly what you and your husband did. I can only imagine how breath-taking your travels were.
      Thanks so much for coming by!
      Have a great week,
      Suzanne

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  10. Oh my goodness, what a lovely post! I have always wanted to do something like that, but we live in the Midwest. I loved the whole thing!! Just beautiful. I'm so glad you got to experience it :)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Kathy,
      So happy you came by!
      If you travel outside the Midwest, be sure and research wineries so that you can experience "Napa dining." It truly is something special.
      Hope you come by again soon.
      Have a beautiful week,
      Suzanne

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  11. Lovely post. Ina had dinner in a vineyard recently while she was in Napa. I thought it was Michael's site for dining there too. Thanks for linking this to What'd You Do This Weekend. Hope to see you tomorrow.

    Wishes for tasty dishes,
    Linda @ Tumbleweed Contessa

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  12. Thank you for the feature, Andrea!

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