Music comes alive at Cougar Vineyard & Winery

James Holland, guitarist of San Diego, plays a selection of acoustic tunes for Cougar Vineyard and Winery on Sunday, July 30. Meghan Taylor  photo
James Holland, guitarist of San Diego, plays a selection of acoustic tunes for Cougar Vineyard and Winery on Sunday, July 30. Meghan Taylor photo

What could possibly be better on a Friday evening or Sunday afternoon than good food, good music and good wine?

Not much if you ask Rick and Jennifer Buffington, owners of Cougar Vineyard & Winery.

“I love listening to live music so I have always had that. I was always an advocate for live music,” Jennifer said.

The couple began offering music on Saturdays early in the 10-year-old winery’s life.

“The first year we were in business, I always wanted to have music but I didn’t know how much it would cost,” Jennifer said. “One of the musicians came to me and offered me a great deal.”

The Buffingtons accepted that musician’s offer and gave them their start with live music.

“We had success with it,” she explained. “I was going to something from nothing.”

When Saturdays became Cougar’s busiest day, they moved their music nights to Friday.

“It got too crazy, too loud,” Jennifer said.

Visitors to the winery on Friday evenings are treated to a high energy performance each week between the hours of 5 and 8 p.m. with entertainers like John Rankin, who opened for John Legend and John January and Linda Berry Duo who are known for their bluesy rock stylings.

“Our Friday music, they’re entertainers,” Jennifer explained. “People are drawn to them, they are watching them and participating in the show.”

Sunday visitors to Cougar Vineyards & Winery are in for a rare treat in the laid-back atmosphere of the boutique winery with the musical stylings of the likes of local singer/songwriter James Holland, performing classic rock and his original hits, The Rockin’ Rebels Duo and some of the best jump swing, 50s rockabilly and west coast blues.

“Sundays are wine club and families,” Jennifer said. “It’s a more relaxed feel, more like background music that people can enjoy while tasting wine or eating lunch from Sangio’s Deli.”

According to Rick, the winery was built to reflect what he and Jennifer liked most about the wineries they have visited, including the live music and the deli, along with the world-class wines.

“It’s really Jennifer’s quote, but we built the winery as something we would like to go to,” Rick said. “It’s what we’d like to see in a winery.”

While visiting Cougar don’t forget to take part in one of their new Daily Tours beginning at 11 a.m. Cost is $40 for non-wine club members and $36 for wine club members. The production and vineyard tour is followed by wine and food pairings and reservations are required. Call (951) 767-8398 or send an email to [email protected] to reserve a spot.

For those out-of-towners wanting to try some of Cougar Vineyard & Winery’s offerings, be sure to stop by and see them at Vista Optimists’ Summerfest Event, Saturday, Aug. 19 from 5:30-10:30 p.m. Rick and Jennifer will be pouring next to Mama-n-Papas during the 50th anniversary event.

Named one of the best wineries to visit in Temecula Valley Wine Country by, Cougar Vineyard & Winery is conveniently located on the De Portola Wine Trail at 39870 De Portola Road in Temecula. The winery’s tasting room hours are Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, including a full schedule of events, call (951) 491-0825 or visit them online at

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