Hey Milparents! If you are ever stationed at or near Camp Pendleton, you will hear about the Temecula wine region. There are over 50 varietals of wine across the region, and all types of wineries. We’ve found a few places which are especially kid-friendly. We picked Wilson Creek for this trip based on the fact that they have a playground for the kids and tons of space to run around. We were not disappointed. Our kids loved exploring the grounds and climbing all over this play structure. We were in good company with lots of other parents and kids enjoying a beautiful day.
Temecula can take an hour to get to, depending on where you live around base. If you’re north of base, you may take Ortega Highway. While it’s the most direct, be warned that there are lots of switchbacks through this mountain pass, and if you have kids prone to carsickness, you will want to bring a change of clothes and a sick bag just in case. If you’re south of base, hop on the 15 highway. You may already live in Fallbrook or Temecula, east of base, in which case you’ll have a quick drive. You can also cut through base and go out the back (east) Fallbrook gate, but traffic can be bad depending on the time of day (if you go between 16:30 and 18:30, traffic can be backed up for miles as people leave work and head home).
We decided to go early, and take the 15, even though we were starting from the north (San Clemente). The drive was about 70 minutes. The Tasting Room is open from 10am to 5pm daily. There is also a grille that opens at 11am select days of the week. Be sure to check out their website before you go: we spotted a 2 for 1 wine tasting coupon! We didn’t do the tasting this time, but we did receive a 20% military discount on the bottles of wine we purchased! Thank you, Wilson Creek! Check out this giant wine bottle sculpture, isn’t it fun?!
From the Winery’s website: “Wilson Creek Winery is a family-owned winery in the heart of Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country known for its quality wines and warm hospitality. The winery features a welcoming tasting room, full-service restaurant with vineyard view dining and expansive patio, creek side picnic area, indoor and outdoor conference and event spaces, romantic wedding venue and exclusive retreat accommodations.”
Do you spy the playground beyond the creek? Pictures can’t do the grounds justice, it was so beautiful.
There were so many delicious-looking wines to choose from, but because it was still early (brunch time), we decided to try 2 sparkling wines, orange mimosa and almond.
Both were wonderfully flavored and light. We enjoyed them with the picnic that we brought. We highly suggest you pack a picnic with your favorite snacks (cheese, crackers, fruit, sandwiches, and lots of water because it can get quite a bit warmer than by the ocean). It was nice to just let the kids snack as they got hungry, in between running around and exploring.
We also tried the Decadencia chocolate cups as a special dessert treat before we hit the road. This combines a dessert wine and a sparkling wine in a chocolate cup – you have to try this!
The winery had such a relaxing atmosphere. We sat by the play structure and creek, which was nicely shaded and had a soothing water fountain flowing behind us. It felt like time slowed down and we were able to truly relax and watch our kids run around making new friends. There were plenty of tables and chairs for all the families there that day (we went on a Thursday, so likely not as busy as a Saturday or Sunday). We spent almost 4 hours, and the kids did amazing. Bonus: they were so worn out from playing, they napped on the ride home!