According to Leonard Lavyn-Grose, director of winery operations at Europa Village, the winery was always envisioned to be a venue that presented three of the world’s best wine regions.
With the building of Bolero at Europa Village beginning to take shape in Temecula Wine Country, the vision set forth by founder and chairman Dan Stephenson is starting to become a little more of a reality.
“He and his wife, Beverly, have spent, you know, six, seven years on and off throughout Europe,” Lavyn-Grose said. “The best three European regions that make wine – Italy, France and Spain – he wanted to make three wineries encompassing those countries here. So, that was the initial vision that he had, and he’s always had that vision.”
Stephenson bought the land for the project around 2006, but a market crash slowed the project. Instead of pursuing the original building, they embarked on creating Europa Village first.
“His goal was to get this started, get the clientele base going, get the revenue source generating,” Lavyn-Grose said. “That way, once the economy fully recovered, then we could start. That’s the phase that Bolero is in.”
The sprawling Spanish winery, called Bolero at Europa Village, will feature a large tasting room, restaurant, dedicated members room, retail shop, outdoor seating areas, conference space, 10 casitas and all the facilities needed for a wedding to be hosted at the facility.
They broke ground in November 2018, and Bolero at Europa Village should be ready to open by the end of March 2020.
“It will have a tapas-style restaurant, very authentic cuisine, a huge tasting room, wine club tasting room,” Lavyn-Grose said. “It has 10 casitas, so we’re going to go from 10 rooms now to 20 rooms, so we’re excited about that. It has a full-service bar, so we’ll be the only one that has a full-service bar. We’re excited about that. Some beer on draft, Type 47 ABC license, so we can do hard alcohol for weddings and events as well.”
Located nearby is the wine country’s second wine cave, also currently under construction.
With almost 30,000 square feet of space being added to the facility, it will give Bolero at Europa Village more opportunity to bring in weekday traffic.
“We will be creating some offerings going forward here that we haven’t been able offer yet for lack of space, like a special blending experience class,” tasting room manager Matt Rice said. “A traditional one really, where we’re really talking about traditional Rhone Valley blends or Bordeaux. I’m working on an Italian blending plan as well. There’s a lot of fun stuff that we’re going to be able to do with more space to draw out those weekday corporate groups.
“We have a lovely new conference room is being built and a lot of open space to be able to have a conference upstairs, dinner downstairs, finish with a wine tasting or experience,” he said. “Those are all things that just based on the size location conflict right now that we aren’t able to offer.”
When that project is completed, the next phase of the project will begin. Vienza, located at the top of the hill is the Italian facility, and they are taking funding for the resort project right now.
“The resort at the top of the hill, so 40 guest suites, a 14,000-square-foot spa, pool, Jacuzzi, with cabanas around, a full-service bar up there as well,” Lavyn-Grose said. “I’ll have like a lobby bar when you check into the resort. A full winery, which is the largest of the three wineries. So that’s 37,000 square feet and Bolero sitting at 29,000 square feet. The goal is to start on that, and it is looking like late second quarter of 2020. As soon as Bolero opens, they want to get started with Vienza immediately, and it’s a 24 to 26-month build.”
When that is done, construction on C’est La Vie will begin, adjacent to the current Europa Village facility, which will be raised and replaced with a parking lot, he said.
“It’s a beautiful facility, a ton of authentic charm,” Lavyn-Grose said about the current Europa Village facility. “I mean, we’ve built our brand in this facility here, and we have a lot of members that are really sad that we’re going away from this. But we’ll have it, I’d say, no less than five years that we will stay here.”
When it’s all said and done, the project will be very much like a wine-tasting theme park.
“One of Dan’s visions, he took a key piece from Disneyland,” Lavyn-Grose said. “When you walk in, immediately you transform. Everything is Disney. Every team member that you meet is just a smile on their face, very happy. So, you’re just immersed immediately walking through those doors at Disney.
“Well, he wanted to create a similar thing here,” he said. “So when you go into Bolero, you hear the Spanish music; you see the Spanish attire; you smell the Spanish foods from the tapas restaurant. It’s a very, a true immersion, to where it really makes you feel is that you’re tasting over in Spain. You’re not just here in Temecula; it really kind of transforms you.”
And when you’re done with one, there will be two more to experience.
“You’ll be able to walk between the three traditional countries of Old World Europe in just a few steps,” Lavyn-Grose said. “The the whole goal is that we give people an option to spend a day or two, go to the spa one day, do a wine tasting, go to the restaurant and really make it a full resort rather than just like you said, a day trip, from Orange County. We’re really trying to draw in that national and international crowd out to Temecula.”
Rice said he thinks the time is right to capitalize on accolades the valley has been receiving, such as being named to Wine Enthusiast’s Top 10 Wine Destinations.
“The notice is really going out there,” Rice said. “We got written up in the Boston Globe recently. It’s really exciting to see that go out amongst people back East, anywhere that might be looking for a new wine destination.”
With Bolero at Europa Village coming into focus, Lavyn-Grose said he is getting excited about the opportunities to come. They are working hard to hire new employees and get them up to speed.
“We have, I’d argue, one of the best staffs in the valley,” he said. “They just do an exceptional job. We’re in the thick of the interviewing right now. (We are) bringing on a lot of new staff members, making sure that we’re hiring right, we’re training right. Again, we’re elevating that level of service to make sure that when we open the $40 million facility the service level is up to par.’
“There’s a lot of good wine in the valley for sure, but it really breaks down to ‘How does that guest service element really relate to that experience?’”
For more information on Europa Village, visit www.europavillage.com.
Jeff Pack can be reached by email at email@example.com.