It took my first girlfriends getaway to finally understand why my former husband would go on “Boys Weekends” when we were married.
That was the politically correct term he used for three days of unadulterated male regression. He and his buddies would revisit their teens in New Orleans or some other adult Disneyland and do “guy things”: They drank too much, harassed women, never shaved and abused rental cars.
They brought back stories of their exploits to us womenfolk in much the same way Neanderthals laid dead animals at the feet of cave mates. I never understood his biological need to act like an idiot so far from home, but I played along.
After my first girlfriends getaway weekend with my pal Kim at the Temecula Creek Inn about 90 miles southeast of Los Angeles, I get it. An entire weekend with no kids, no laundry, no husband — just good old-fashioned female bonding. No wonder women-only travel is one of the fastest-growing segments of the travel industry.
Although the inn sits right off Highway 15, you’d never know it. Towering California Oaks surrounding the 300 acres stand like sentries against the noisy outside world. The scenery, driving in, morphs from bustling suburbia to rustic serenity, as though passing through some invisible veil separating reality from retreat.
“You instantly feel transported to a place farther away than it is,” says Kim.
Our game plan for this girlfriends getaway was simple: Eat great food, drink good wine, girl-talk and sleep soundly. Next day, rinse with mouthwash and repeat. We had cozy rooms, decorated in the American Indian theme woven throughout the inn, featuring armoires, white-eyelet quilts and balconies overlooking an Ireland-green golf course.
Which Way to Oz?
Tempting as it was to lounge in our rooms, too much fun beckoned beyond: golfing on three nine-hole courses, tennis, swimming and hiking. A must-see is the Stone House, a charming, historic structure on the property built in the 1800s. Like to gamble? The inn offers free shuttles to nearby Pechanga casino. Hot-air-ballooning is awe-inspiring, I hear. Then, of course, there’s wine tasting.
But which of Temecula’s 22 wineries should we hit? We were woozy with indecision. The Inn recommended Leonesse, Palomar and Stuart Sellers, their “preferred wine partners.” I’ll confess: I’m not much of a wine drinker – I just started drinking White Zinfandel last year. I was hoping Kim, being 100 percent Italian, would be the sophisticate among us.
“The last time I went wine tasting was 27 years ago on my honeymoon.” Uh-oh.
Special Packages: The Wine Country Getaway
Package for two ($335/night) includes:
· Deluxe accommodations
· A select bottle of Temecula Valley wine upon arrival
· Picnic lunch
· Tour and tasting tickets to select Temecula Valley Wineries
· Wine dinner menu in the Temet Grill, featuring cuisine expertly paired with regional wines
The Vibe: Rustic and cozy
It didn’t matter. We learned quickly: Either you like the taste or you don’t. I gravitated toward sweeter wines, like port. Kim had more discerning tastes and was saying things like “Chardonnay.” After 12 glasses of wine at two wineries, I was saying things I don’t remember. “Sniff, sip, suck, swirl, swallow.” Is that supposed to be a tongue-twister?
Easily, the best part about wine tasting is the truffle at the end of each flight. “It’s sexy, sinful and indulgent.” I think Kim was having honeymoon flashbacks.
All in all, we learned a lot that day – about wine and each other. For one, port is expensive because it sits for 36 months. And that thing you spit wine into? It’s called a dump bucket. “Or, the house wine,” as one server joked. Most important, when you hug complete strangers at a winery, you’re not drunk. You’re simply “living in the moment.”
Cheers to a great weekend
We ate dinner – and a fabulous brunch the next day — at the Temet Grill, the inn’s showcase restaurant that serves up a panoramic view of the golf course and San Jacinto Mountains. It’s truly a feast for the senses.
Our special wine-country cuisine included: Young Spring Greens, Jumbo Ricotta Cheese Ravioli, Charred Midwestern Rib-Eye Steak, Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Lemon-Scented Grilled Asparagus. Each course paired with a different regional wine. Pure heaven. Dessert was served with the Leonesse port, for which I fell head over heels – almost literally, Kim tells me. I don’t really remember.
We raised our glasses and toasted the weekend: Here’s to fantastic food, delectable gossip, an abundance of wine and chocolate, and time alone with good friends. Life doesn’t get much better than this.
And we didn’t destroy any rental cars, either.
Lynn Armitage is a freelance writer, editor and blogger in California. She remains a very unsophisticated wine drinker who still prefers White Zinfandel.