Temecula’s slogan, Old Traditions New Opportunities, could not be better suited for one of its newest Wineries. However, the traditions are not what we are used to around here, in this case instead of Old West think Old World – Europe, without the plane ride! Recently, Europa Village held its first Société Europa Member Event, the Viva Vienza! Summer Celebration and unveiled their newest addition the Vienza 2009 Sangiovese. I was fortunate enough to attend.
The concept of Europa Village is the vision of two local businessmen who are looking to create a unique experience reminiscent of Old World Europe right here in Temecula. The present building that stands on their 320 acres is lovingly referred to as “Prelude to Europa Village,” a single structure separated into three areas designed in the distinctive styles of the countries their wines represent. Italian wines are presented under the Vienza label and served in the cave-like interior reminiscent of the Roman Catacombs only updated by a fabulous decorator and cleared out of all the skeletons. France can be experienced through the C’est La Vie label and wine bar that reminds me of a little bistro I once dined at on the Côte d’Azur. The Spanish wine label, Bolero Cellars, must have lost a coin toss because while its Spanish style is represented on the façade its interior is home to los baños! Not to fret, the Bolero wines can be tasted at the adjacent wine bar (not in the bathrooms) and is simply a matter of ‘function’ having no reflection of the on the quality of the Spanish wines.
As seems to be a reoccurring role in my articles, I have yet another confession to make: I’m not much of a wine drinker. So despite the ability to taste all the wines at the event for free I stuck with tasting just one. I asked for the ‘sweetest white’ (that’s what us non-wine drinkers do, yes I can hear you gasping from here) and was given the Bolero Cellars 2009 Muscat Canelli. In my very non-expert opinion I can say it was absolutely delightful!
The three regions are gracefully brought together by an open courtyard filled with flowers and greenery, centered by a large olive tree, outdoor seating and thankfully heat sparing misters. Temecula Wine Country or the Tuscan Countryside? From this location it’s easy to imagine you are in the later.
Managing partner Denis Ferguson shared the collective vision for Europa Village with me and it’s quite impressive. The vision is for a complete Old World European experience without leaving the U.S. What you find at Europa Village today is called a prelude because it’s just that, a sampling of what is to come. At completion the Village will include three separate wineries that can be reached by strolling the main boulevard. Each will maintain their perspective labels theme and include guest accommodations. In addition, for the lucky few , residences are in the plans. There will be 58 custom estates on plots starting at 2.5 acres all with vines maintained by the winery. Imagine walking to one of the wineries and asking for your private reserve barrel grown on your very property, ah, C’est La Vie! No, I’m not picking my favorite but rather imagining; that truly would be the life!
Though the projected completion date is unknown the feel is there and progress is already underway. Europa Village has acquired what was formerly the Loma Vista Bed and Breakfast. Rooms are available under the new name, the Inn at Europa Village, and plans are to transform the Inn to match the theme. The Inn Keeper just so happens to be the Executive Chef for Europa Village, so I may have to stay there just to try to acquire more of the Gingersnap cookies topped with Blue Cheese served at the member event. I would have never put the two together but it’s fabulous and apparently an Old World thing. Clearly the theme isn’t just superficial. It’s in every detail including the wine making where ‘simplicity’ is the modus operandi and the wine bottles are capped with wax instead of foil. Ferguson states, “Wine is an amenity to food, it should be soft and balanced” – it is traditional and simple. A friend wittingly stated, “some venues like wines make a bold statement saying ‘come hither’, others sneak up subtly and say ‘I’m here enjoy at your leisure.’” I owe him a bottle of Red for using the quote but I couldn’t think of a more perfect description and I’d bet Ferguson would agree, Europa Village is definitely the latter.
Ferguson is as unassuming as the winery itself. Ironically accompanying me for the event was a friend who knows Ferguson and his wife. My friend was unaware they were working on this project and even though the Winery just opened its doors this past April, the grapes were planted and harvested starting in 2006. Ferguson’s explanation as to why he hadn’t mentioned it? Wanting people to find them because of word of mouth and social media, and it’s working. Before attending I wondered why a new winery member event required two days. I soon discovered the answer. Through networking when the doors opened Europa Village already had over three hundred wine members and today that number is over a thousand. I’d say that speaks volumes. Membership includes regular shipments of their wines, free tastings and monthly member events like the Viva Vienza! Summer Celebration. There are also off site events and other community involvement activities.
I, for one, can’t wait to watch the complete vision unfold. In the meantime, catch me there at the September Art Class in the Vineyards and possibly upcoming cooking classes where I’ll try to get my hands on more of those cookies! The cookies you can take my word on and since I’m no expert the wine you are just going to have to go experience for yourself!
Photos by Amanda Schwarzer
Europa Village, 33475 La Serena Way, Temecula, CA 92591
Tel: (888) 383-8767
Go here to join the wine club