Part one of this week’s Sip Trips looked at our time aboard the Star Princess, travelling from Vancouver to Los Angeles. Part two sees us arrive at our final destination, Escondido, California, for a few days of R&R at the Lawrence Welk Resort.
Shortly after arriving in San Diego, we were off in search of some of the city’s craft beer to enjoy during our stay. I picked up Stone Brewing’s variety pack, which included their Cali-Belgique IPA, Pale Ale 2.0, Coffee Milk Stout, and Ruination Double IPA 2.0 (including the slogan “A liquid poem to the glory of the hop”). My favourite of the lot was the stout and the entire collection made for some good drinking, while relaxing and catching up on TV viewing.
Our Lawrence Welk Resort also had a couple of their own craft beers, brewed by Iron Fist. This included the Renegade Blonde and Stout. The beers were decent, but expensive, coming in at $10 and $14, respectively. That said, they did come in 750ml bottles, so we were open to experimenting.
The weather during our stay was a mix of warm, sunny days and chilly nights (it even rained one day), so we managed to get a little pool time in. While soaking up some sun at one of the resort’s pools, we ordered a couple drinks from the pool bar. Mrs. Sip got a Mai Tai, while I enjoyed a Cucumber-Jalapeno Margarita. The cool of the cucumbers provided a nice balance to the heat of the jalapenos and it was a good tanning beverage.
That same day, we toweled off and made our way to the Temecula Valley Wine Country, a beautiful region chock full of wineries. We randomly selected Bel Vino Winery to start our journey and were shocked by the very expensive tastings prices ($17 each for 6 one oz pours), which are not waived with bottle purchase. I’m not sure if other California wine regions operate similarly, but you have to understand that Mrs. Sip and I are accustomed to paying $5 for a tasting, which is typically waived with the purchase of a bottle.
Hell, for the $17 tasting, I could just buy a bottle and call it a day. Mrs. Sip and I found this business tactic to not be very conducive in encouraging guests to buy wine. After sharing our first tasting, I didn’t even bother participating at our next stop, Leoness Cellars, which was suggested by someone we talked to at Bel Vino, and also operated under a similar pricing structure, with tastings costing $18.
The wineries we visited and drove by we all packed with people – some very, very intoxicated – so perhaps doing a tour bus would be the better way of hitting the region and saving money with whatever package you pay for. Joining the winery’s respective clubs is also an option and includes perks that make the prices more tolerable. All in all, I was pretty disappointed with how the Wine Country operated and their business practices.
We travelled back to Temecula a couple days later to visit Garage Brewing, but sadly, they are closed on Mondays. I had looked them up after returning from our wine afternoon and they had some interesting brews on tap. It just wasn’t meant to be, but another time will hopefully provide more success.
While we were visiting, San Diego was enjoying their annual Craft Beer Week, but being located outside the city, we didn’t get to attend any of the festivities. We made up for it on our journey to the airport by stopping at a few locations, starting with Lost Abbey and Port Brewing. There, we tried some samples of their Red Barn Saison, Witch’s Wit, Serpent’s Stout, and Mongo IPA. I thought each beer was quite good, with the Saison perhaps edging out the others as my favourite, thanks to its ginger bite on the back end.
Our final stop was to Stone Brewing, which has a new beautiful facility, although signage is hard to find, save for the gargoyle mascot that represents the company on bottles and other products. We sat down and had some drinks and snacks in the brewery’s restaurant, testing out beers such as Xocoveza for the Holidays, Sawyer’s Triple, Smoked Porter, and Go to IPA w/ Lemon Peel and Vanilla Bean. The Xocoveza winter ale and IPA were my favourite of the bunch. As we were leaving, we splurged on a bottle of Locoveza (produced in wine and tequila barrels) to bring home. At close to $20 for the brew, we’re saving it for a special occasion.
The return to the real world is always harsh, but next week’s Sip Trips will be full of goodies (they always are!), as Vancouver’s Hopscotch Festival has been ongoing and Mrs. Sip and I have been busy attending a number of the event’s proceedings!