Temecula Grapevine

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Europa Village Winery gets standing ovation for Dinner Theater in the Vines Murder Mystery “PolterHeist”

Mystery was afoot on Saturday night in Temecula Wine Country, August 17, 2013.

Europa Village Winery opened its outdoor patio for a bit of murder, mayhem, and hi jinx in the vines with the dinner theater who dunnit, Polter Heist, written and directed by Brittany Campbell.

Guests were greeted with a balmy breeze after the searing hot day, with a white wine sangria loaded with melon, and delicious fruit–just the thing to toast sundown on the 95+ degree day.

White wine sangria

White wine sangria

With a crowd of 40 at this intimate three course dinner, each course introduced by chef Dean Thomas, of the Inn at Europa Village.

Guests started with a deliciously tangy tomatillo salad including a plethora of home grown tomatoes: Mr. Stripey, baby heirloom, black Cherokees, Brandywine, served along with wild arugula topped with local olive oil pesto with toasted pecan, served with an asagio bruchetta and culminated the flavorful palate with slivers of white Italian anchovy. (all vegetables planted, grown, and harvested from Temecula’s own Peltzer Farms) while the cast milled around and introduced themselves to the diners.

Tomatillo salad

Tomatillo salad

Characters such as “Phyliss Lodge” (played by Murrieta‘s Tiffany Aptaker) and “Jim Lodge” (played by Temecula Valley High School‘s Director of Productions and Drama Teacher, Derek Heid) stole the show with their no-holds-barred antics. Familiar and funny, “Dana Skullery” (Sarah Brooks) and “Fox Smolder” (Josh Pudleiner) hammed it up in a not-entirely-unlike-X-Files “Hex Files” manner.

Phyliss Lodge

Phyliss Lodge

Dana Skullery

Dana Skullery

Janet from another Planet

Janet from another Planet

Jim Lodge dodges questions

Jim Lodge dodges questions

Guests were charmed with the whimsically funny “Professor Lionel Spector” (Nate Beals), and “Janet from another Planet” (Hope Davidson of Murrieta) with her groovy ways of trying to play a CD on a record player that left the audience in stitches. However, it was “Madame Zelda Von Schpookum” who stole the show (Sonia Watson of Temecula Valley Players) who truly stole the show with her trance states and levitation.

Sonia Watson steals the show

Sonia Watson steals the show

Before Campbell introduced each table (tasked with assigning names and a group “table” name in sync with the spooky night among the vines, Chef Dean returned to share the main course: an all day long venture in chuck shoulder, braised in Europa Syrah, and home grown veggies, topped with hand-stuffed shells sprinkled with shaved Parmesan. This melt-in-your-mouth delicacy was served alongside the home-grown carrot puree, along with garden zucchini. Dessert brought out cups full of caramel, sea salt panna cotta, served with chocolate and hazelnut, with raspberry for tangy good measure. As Chef Dean warned, “Clean your plates! If you don’t clean your plates, you can’t have any wine!”

Braised chuck shoulder and pasta shells

Braised chuck shoulder and pasta shells

Guests of the Inn at Europa Village were tantalized with promises of breakfast in Northern France, and met with answering “ahs!”

As the staff delivered each course, the mayhem and slap stick comedy murder continued all around the dinner. Cast whimsically dropped clues and misled the dinner guests, as was the order of the evening. All were hushed, watching and laughing at intervals, and each break led table conversation from normal meet and greet to discussing murder and mayhem, as well as possible red herrings.

Hex Files watches

Hex Files watches

The Lodges argue

The Lodges argue

Janet plays cd on record player

Janet plays cd on record player

At last, all were invited to choose “Who Dunnit!” and hand over guesses to the cast member each designated as the killer, and why. Guest “Pinky” of table “Boo Are You?” won a bottle of Europa Village wine to take home for her crack-sleuthing efforts.

Audience interviews the cast with pointed questions

Audience interviews the cast with pointed questions

Clues found at the tables--can you walk like an Egyptian?

Clues found at the tables–can you walk like an Egyptian?

Guests enjoy theater and fine dining in the vines at Europa Village Winery

Guests enjoy theater and fine dining in the vines at Europa Village Winery

So who dunnit? We'll never tell.

So who dunnit? We’ll never tell.

Look for more murder mysteries this fall from Europa Village.

Find the Inn at Europa Village: http://innateuropavillage.com/

33350 La Serena Way, Temecula, CA, 877.676.7047

Visit Europa Village Winery: http://www.europavillage.com/

33475 La Serena Way, Temecula, CA, (951) 506-1818

For more on local deals and information, visit  :Temecula Blogs: 

Save the date! La Tomatina @ Europa Village celebrating Spanish heritage, and food fighting with tomatoes, Temecula Style, September 15

Save the date! La Tomatina @ Europa Village celebrating Spanish heritage, and food fighting with tomatoes, Temecula Style, September 15

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About Ashley Ludwig

Ashley Ludwig is an Editor for Patch News, Orange County and Los Angeles. She is also an inspirational romantic suspense author.

One comment on “Europa Village Winery gets standing ovation for Dinner Theater in the Vines Murder Mystery “PolterHeist”

  1. Pingback: Inn at Europa Village provides passport to relaxation, fine dining, a world away around the corner in Temecula Wine Country | Temecula Grapevine

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