Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Churon Winery

100 California Wineries

It is six a.m.  I am wide awake.  Restless.  Eager for the day to begin.  The view of Temecula Valley from our hotel room balcony is enticing.  I want to walk among the vines.  Soak up the early morning rays of sunshine before the sky turns dark.  There is a storm brewing.  If I'm going to get outside today, I better go now.

I quickly throw on some jeans, a warm cashmere sweater and lace up my hiking boots.  I grab Mimi from the van and we set out.  The air is cool and moist.  The whole vineyard is blessedly empty except for a few rabbits who are shocked to find someone up this early.  They stare at me, perplexed, before scampering off through the vines.

The Inn at Churon Winery is a lovely boutique hotel that sits on top of a hill overlooking eleven acres of vineyards in the Temecula Valley.  My travel buddy and I have been curious about this wine making region in Southern California for years now, so we finally decided to check it out.  The Churon Inn is one of the most romantic hotels we have ever stayed at.  I gasped at the oversized bathroom with its giant tub.  The walls were papered with a floral print and oh, the view!  That first evening we took our glasses of viognier from the wine bar and went back to our room for a picnic on the balcony.  Wine tasting is free for guests; as is a huge breakfast in the morning.

Two high school buddies, Chuck Johnson and Ron Thomas, met at a high school reunion and decided to go into business together.  They purchased the above property in 1997, planted grapes in 1998 and opened the doors of Churon  (using the first three letters of their names) in 2001.  Chuck has since retired and the winery is now run by Ron and his wife Judy.
The last thing I expect to see this morning is a hot air balloon.  The sky is turning darker and darker, but there it is--rising higher and higher over the vineyard.  I am transfixed.  Those lucky people!

I race back to the hotel.  My travel buddy needs to see this.  I force him out of bed, put on a pot of coffee and together we (literally) watch the world float by.

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