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Cougar Vineyard and Winery is a world away on the De Portola Wine Trail in Temecula, California. This gem sits high atop the De Portola hills, with the grand, Tuscan style wine tasting room focused to the South providing a picture perfect view of Mount Palomar through the many bay windows.
Upon entry, this lofty space is graced by gorgeous rich wood bars, hand carved by one of Temecula’s favorite jack-of-all-trades, Larry Coco of The Winemaker Tours. The loving attention to detail, providing spacious tables for guests to linger, enjoy their picnic from Sangio’s Deli, or to curl up in the comfy chairs, fireside, with a glass of delectable Montepulciano.
The differences in Cougar Vineyard and Winery to others on the De Portola Wine Trail, as well as Temecula Wine Country proper, are in the Italian only varietals they grow here. Owners Rick and Jennifer Buffington know what works best for Temecula Valley, and grow and harvest their estate-grown Italian varietals including several incredibly unique varietals in the United States. At Cougar, you’ll find: Lambrusca di Alessandria, Brachetto, Prosecco, Falangini and Nero Amaro. Cougar also grows more common varietals, such as: Sangiovese, Aglianico, Primitivo, Montepulciano, Vermentino, Pinot Grigio and Arneis.
Each varietal is chosen based upon Temecula’s unique geographical and weather conditions, very similar to much of Italy, and the well-versed winery staff thrives on educating mid-week winery visitors, and weekend guests on the lesser known varietals grown, harvested, and crushed here at Cougar Vineyard.
Temecula Grapevine enjoyed the Ron’s Roast Beef sandwich — a ridiculously, eye-rolling affair perfectly paired with my new favorite varietal, Montepulciano. The sandwich boasts succulent Boar’s Head Roast Beef, Monterey Jack Cheese with Jalapeno, Red Leaf Lettuce, Tomato, Red Onion, Bacon and Pepperhouse Gourmaise Dressing. Do NOT make the mistake of sharing this sandwich. This is one to savor, nibble through a few glasses, all while taking in that stellar view through the pane-glass windows.
You’ll notice the multitude of olive trees, heavy laden with ripening fruit, begging to be pressed, furthering the Italian landscape feel of Cougar.
Cougar Vineyards has become the winery that local Temecula recognizes as a mid-week destination, gathering afternoons to enjoy excellent wine, food, and conversation. The room buzzes with laughter, light, and the hum of blissful wine tasting for those who wish to sample a bit of Italy in Southern California.
Cougar offers its wine club members many exclusive benefits, from typical quarterly wines, discounts, and complimentary tastings for members, and “members only” exclusive and sponsored events, to the more unique membership that offers a a three-year commitment, increased case offerings, and culminates with the member keeping their own signature Cougar barrel. Don’t forget to ask about that one!
For more information on Cougar Vineyard and Winery, visit them online: http://www.cougarvineyards.com/
Address: 39870 De Portola Rd, Temecula, CA