Briar Rose Winery – Temecula
In my search for interesting winery architecture, I wasn’t expecting to come upon a Disney cottage, but here I am. Briar Rose Winery is located in Temecula, California, 60 miles southeast of Anaheim, where Imagineers once worked to keep improving Disneyland. One of those Imagineers was Beldon Fields, an architect that worked on Fantasyland and Toon Town. In the 1970’s, he purchased the Temecula property and built a pair of connected cottages with the vision that his wife, Sallee Ann, would open a bed and breakfast. Fields designed the cottages to look as if seven dwarves might step out the door at any moment, for they are crafted with the charm and character that we identify with our Disney memories and experiences.
Although the B&B business never materialized, the Fields kept the home until the early 1990’s, when it was purchased by Les and Dorian Linkogle, the current owners. The Linkogles purchased the property to provide open space for their son to ride his motorcycle. Several years later, they planted grapes, selling them to local wineries. The excellent quality of the harvested fruit convinced the Linkogles to start a winery of their own, which opened in 2007. The winery was named Briar Rose, after the princess in the original story of Sleeping Beauty.
The home is hidden from the street behind a tall hedge that maintains an air of mystery and prevents passers-by from getting anything more than a glimpse of what lies beyond. Once past the hedge, I found myself in a larger garden area with some promising rose bushes (it was January), all kinds of interesting objects and a very, very large olive tree. On the opposite side of the garden is the front cottage, where the entrance to the tasting room is framed with an arched doorway over which a large clock may or may not be showing the correct time. To the left of this doorway is a second opening with a blue canopy bearing the winery’s name. This appears to have been originally a window opening which was modified for functionality, and integrates somewhat akwardly with the original design.
But apart from the canopy, the cottages are very much as Fields designed them. In fact, one of the conditions of the sale of the property was that the new owners would not change the architecture of the buildings until Fields’ death. Beldon Fields passed in 2007, and nine years later, the Linkogles have kept the exterior the same. The future of the property is unknown, the current owners have kept true to the character of the original design, although a careful refresh of the structures would be welcomed.
Disney inspired details are everywhere and looking for them is half the fun of a visit to Briar Rose. From the chimney cap to the light fixtures, to the garden birds and statues, the influence is obvious. The most interesting feature is the roof, which was carefully designed and crafted to look like a handmade thatched structure, but up close is revealed to be anything but, just as the Matterhorn looks like anything but a mountain the closer you get. All that is part of the charm, we all know and accept that Disney is more about imagination that it is about realism.
Rumor has it that throughout the winery; there are original artworks, statues and hidden messages in the plaster of the cottage walls which are only visible at sunset. I wasn’t there late enough to check this one out, please comment below if you visit and discover one of these.
Inside the house, the tasting room area has been modified to add the tasting bar, a small elevated area for entertainment, and tables and chairs for visitors. The patio provides a bright contrast to the tasting room and if the sun is shining, sitting in the beautiful garden with your wine is a quite an enjoyable experience.
This statue of a young girl is the centerpiece of the garden area, it appears weathered, but it is difficult to tell what is actual weathering and what was painted in to give it expression. There is no inscription or plaque identifying the artist, but it definitely has the impression of a Disney cinematic character.
The very, very, very large olive tree was much smaller when it was relocated from the Calloway Winery land when orchards were torn out to make way for their current vineyards. Growing conditions have been very favorable, and it is now considered one of the largest and oldest olive trees in California.
The back cottage is not open to the public except for private parties, but after some convincing (and polite begging), I was allowed a quick tour during my visit. This area of the home has been kept in its original state and touched me the most. The rustic stone has been brought inside to cover an entire wall and fireplace, dark wood beams cross the ceiling, a piano waits quietly for a willing player, and an étagère filled with Disney figurines provides a fascinating focal point. I came away with a feeling that dinners at the long table in this room must be very memorable.
A large paved area between the cottages and a wide, grassy lawn provide a great space for special events. Although not formally associated with Disney, Briar Rose is a perfect venue for the die-hard Disney fan looking for an enchanting wedding or other milestone gathering.
The staff at Briar Rose were extremely welcoming and hospitable, everyone had different parts of the story to share, and my tasting pal and I left having made friends with them all. A special acknowledgement to the lovely Rachael for being so patient with all of my questions.
Visitors should note that reservations are required, and that no one under 21 is allowed on the property.
Disney aside, there is much more to Briar Rose than just fairy tale, for their wines have earned 66 awards between 2007 and 2012, an impressive achievement. Red Wines produced include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, Merlot, and a Tempranillo. Whites include a Reisling, Sav Blanc and Viognier.
In addition to the Briar Rose label, the owners have introduced a “Talking Frog” label at a lower price point for their table wines.
Briar Rose Winery
41720 Calle Cabrillo
Temecula, CA 92592
Thursday thru Monday from 11am to 5pm
No Persons under 21 allowed on property
Telephone: (951) 308-1098
Briar Rose Winery
Here I am having my Lucy moment at one of my favorite wineries. Something you just have to do once, although wearing white capris to a grape stomping wasn't a well thought out wardrobe choice.
Although I may not always be able to tell you the difference between a Malbec and a Mourvedre, there is no better weekend trip than one spent in wine country. So join the adventure as I explore California's wineries in search of interesting design and great visual experiences. Wine tasting will definitely happen, but will not be the main focus of my posts.
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