Finding Tuscany in Southern California- The Inn at Europa Village

Welcome to the Inn at Europa Village- photo credit

Imagine a magical destination that greets you with rolling hills on a vineyard filled country side. This spectacular location includes tall Italian cypress tress, exclusive wineries and a personalized two course breakfast experience created by a “renowned” Chef.

Boy wouldn’t that be even better if this was closer than, let’s say, Tuscany?


Wait…wink wink..There is such a dreamy gem near Los Angeles and in the wonderfully popular vacation destination of Southern California!!!

Located only 83 miles outside of Los Angeles, heading towards San Diego. The Inn at Europa holds a very special place in my heart, from her vineyards to the enchanting people behind the scenes that make all the magic happen.

To get to Europa Village, you will drive through suburban Temecula, which is only a “gallop” away. You will experience a taste of the old west merging with the new west- including festivals, breweries and creative savory dining. After all, a yummy meal after a day of adventure never hurt anybody.

Driving up the winding entrance lined with vineyards and the whimsically shaped Italian Cypress trees, you are in full view of the ever so charming Inn. Perched high above the village, watching over the valley with such alluring charisma. She is a mission style, 10 room bed and breakfast that is run by the “celebrated”  Chef Dean and his wife Nicole.

When I find something I connect with and feel transformed in that moment, I will be back. Which makes this my 3rd time at the Inn. With all check in details handled online, you have a no fuss arrival.  This creates the feeling that I was coming to see long lost relatives, but instead it was Chef Dean full of his quirky humor and fun banter. This is a huge perk for me when starting a getaway!

We are escorted by the chef through the living room, pass the only tv for guests to use, Love that..and are told “FIRST SANGRIA” as if we had been without something so important – I agreed with his enthusiasm of course..

Chef Sangria- Courtesy of the hotel

Now I will keep his sangria recipe secret, and let him tell you “where” he gets his citrus! I will say that who knew how much I would love dried blueberries! – My mom and I were obsessed with dehydrated raspberries in our champagne last Christmas, as well as a non- alcoholic spritzer, so now Dried blueberries in Wine! Always a fan of a mason jar as well. So far super impressed!!! No worry, no stress, a familiar feeling- and I LOVE WINE-


The grounds at the inn offer many little landscaped levels with adorable sitting areas to take in a multitude of panoramic views. -Endless vineyards, flowers, gardens, and- my favorite a cork wishing well.

Make sure to take time to visit the 6ft. wide Fire pit sitting under the open sky and the massive hot tub down the path, which is respectfully hidden out of direct view of the other guests at the inn.

Take a load off and enjoy the views.
The Inn at Europa Village

Part of the stay at the Inn includes perks! Who doesn’t love perks? How about wine tasting 2 for 1 deals at a few very impressive wineries that are all fans of the Inn and Europa Village? Grab your map of winery row, if you ask, Chef Dean will share his favorite restaurants around town!


Europa village sits towards the beginning of winery row, if coming from old town Temecula side. I would recommend grabbing  an early dinner at the next door winery, Miramonte. Their restaurant ‘Flower Hill Bistro’ is just fantastic. I have ended up eating here a few times:) You must get the stuffed mushrooms, you will thank me. 









Beautifully decorated rooms such as the Syrah Room, Libido and Grenache, include a balcony where you can drink your bottle of wine and catch the sun setting over the beautiful Temecula valley.

The Libido Room
Hotel photo credit

The experience at the Inn will gift you a bottle with the name of the room you are staying in! Put the finishing touches on the evening with a walk down to the hot tub under the stars and cozy up near the fire pit.

During your stay at the inn, you are treated to what is called “The Breakfast Experience” a two course breakfast made in house, farm to table. All locally grown ingredients!!

The Inn is so fortunate to have Chef Dean and His wife Nicole at the helm . I could not imagine any other person to fill his shoes. If you are as curious as I was.. read here!

Breakfast at the Inn is as if you are experiencing “The Greatest Showman” for the first time. In uncharted but enticing waters, witnessing a “culinary circus event” in pure form! I can only explain the morning as a guest witnessing P.T Barnum unleashing his gifts for the world to take in. Trusting what is to come and embracing the adventure of “Taste” you are about to embark on.

Once the guests are seated, place settings are placed and just like swift magic, you are presented with a decadent first course! Your jaw will hit the floor when you see the decor of food arranged on your plate.

Chef Dean, in full chef attire, glides out from behind the “curtain” and takes his place center stage. All you hear is the soft sounds of the wind chimes and we wait patiently for opening lines!! Ladies and gentlemen the show begins.

He effortlessly addresses his audience with poise and humor and paints the picture of what has been created sitting in front of us! As he takes us on the journey of the dish, my patience and will power is tested to not dive into the martini glass I have been salivating over.

His descriptions roll off the tongue so smoothly, this is clearly not his first rodeo. It’s not just the way he describes; its the recipe he has created. that is mesmerizing. The mixture of eclectic but purposely chosen ingredients truly is the ultimate “Breakfast Experience”

Plates were removed and just a smoothly as before a new even more mouthwatering dish is placed before your eyes. Good luck not feeling like a puppy following the bowl as it lands.

Act: 2 is in full swing. Taking a journey of flavor around the plate, we decide to stop and  plan what we want our last bite to be!! Pacing was crucial.

Apparently there are 5 aphrodisiacs on the plate. I am convinced there was more.

I decided to have the braised beef hash and the truffle parsnip puree as my last bite. “Wonderful choice darling”.

For your viewing are welcome, and I am equally sorry you haven’t tasted them yet!

Delicate perfection
Elisse Nielson photo
Truffle Delight


As a foodie and chef my self, self taught- and mom taught- I can proudly say I have Truffle oil from Truffle Hunter in my Amazon cart-

Each dish we find and create, we seem to think that a cap of Truffle Oil is the secret ingredient.

After a nap in food heaven we decided to start our adventure for the day.

When in wine country, one tends to drink wine. Temecula is on the verge of massive growth in the wine community. She has already made quite the mark as being known as the “jewel” of Riverside county. I like to call it the new Napa, or a taste of Italy in SOCAL 😉 ( sound familiar)

Known for its diversity, the wineries here grow and produce over 50 different varietals of wine. Just wait to I tell you what is coming in Europa!!!

Welcome to Europa Village

Located just a leisurely walk down the hill, you will find your Closing Act of the day- Europa Village.

Once you walk through the arches of the entrance, immediately you are transported to this old world charm. I love flowers by the way-full of personality they are…. and they are in stunning form at europa. Rows of beautiful roses wrap around the path to cabanas and plush seating for outside enjoyment, Surrounded by vineyards and views you cant help but fall in love, and that is before you have had wine! or Have heard what is coming!!

A little bit about Europa- Temecula having some of the most ideal wine growing regions in America- Gives you the chills doesn’t it!!

There was the vision of bringing together traditional European wine as well as their high standards.

Inspired by the beauty of the wine regions in France, Spain and Italy, the founders began their mission to bring that to us! In sunny southern California.

The Village sits on 30 acres of vibrant vineyards. The rich “terroir” of Temecula Valley. The combination of the weather, soil and elevation work hand in hand to nurture the grapes to perfection. The first production of premium wines were produced in 2011.

Since then, the village has blossomed with return guests and a growing fan club. Striving to give the up most hospitality to match the old world charm and beauty.

The entire staff at Europa Village is just lovely, you really can get jealous of how much fun they have on the job, as well as their camaraderie. I think wine helps:) I strongly feel that this should be considered by other career avenues. Wine hour, keeps the employees happy!…... Let’s take a raise of hands who agrees?

However, there is one man in particular that stands out. He also comes with quite the long list of recommendations from around the valley, and his name is “Dr. Doug”

A little about the legend, Dr. Douglas Garman, Ph.D, a 35 year professional educator is now the wine educator and sommelier for Europa Village. He was one of the first employees hired and boy has set the bar high!

For the extreme wine lovers out there, Europa village offers a European cruise hosted by Dr. Doug. Enjoy a stunning cruise and journey witnessing Dr. Dougs wine expertise, with Melodies of the Danube.

How lucky we were, having our last tasting of the day with the legend himself. What a one man show he is, and his team surrounding him are so lovely to humor his show. They seem to enjoy it as well as he walks us through our journey of the wine and gives his wonderful suggestions of what to take home for later.

The fun really starts to kick in when he pulls out this map and vision of what is coming to Europa Village.

Up above in the higher terrain, a piece of France, Italy, and Spain will be coming in full swing with the Village Resort and matching restaurant concepts!

I imagine a beautiful ski chalet in Europe, but in place of snow; vineyards! Each winery paying homage to what inspired the founders to begin with! With Dr. Doug and chef Dean Thomas at the helm, only good things will come to this new little world.

The wine we parted with from Europa was their vintage “C’est la Vie” 2015 Counoise.

The Wine Profile:

Wild strawberries, rose petals, Mediterranean herbs and black pepper. freshly ripe dark cherry starts on the palate, then smooth tannins and a perfectly balanced acidity lingers and on.

My notes: smooth, and romantic. This was a wine I saved and opened one on Valentines day, signed by Dr. Doug and shared with a special person for an anniversary. So the memory made with C’est la Vie is immensely special to me.

Leaving the village in heavenly bliss after quite a wine experience, we left feeling like the VIP clientele that everyone deserves to be. Walked up the hill and carried out another romantic and relaxing evening. Sunsetting, Shooting star hunting, warm hot tub jets, and the calming blaze of the Fire pit.

The relaxing evening part 2  wasn’t the only moment we got to experience again.


The intoxicating smells from the kitchen have woken us up yet again. Quickly wondering down the staircase and back to the patio we wait.

Greeted by Chef Damien who has worked with Chef Dean for over 10 years. He takes on the role of Grand Master showman as well as his predecessor Equally kind and full of knowledge.

Day 2 breakfast took us on a whole new farm to table experience and I could definitely get used to having a 2 course breakfast experience every day!

The chorizo stuffing came in the post adorably sized cast iron skillet, also added to my amazon cart. I NEED ONE!

What a phenomenal way to end our food and wine adventure in Temecula.




With bottles of wine in hand and full bellies we made our way down the winding entrance and waived goodbye to our favorite little inn.Our Inn that makes us feel like we are in some secluded mountain side in Tuscany. Radiating from our absolutely perfect few days and reminiscing on the new friends and new experiences made.

No tears here, we will be back:)

C’est La Vie

and thank you The Inn at Europa Village.