Callaway Vineyard & Winery in Temecula took a hit from Mother Nature over the weekend as wind whipped through the valley and tore the roof off the estate’s Meritage Restaurant, as well as panels off its Shakespeare in the Vines stage and the upper deck of the facility’s new tasting room.
The damage occurred Saturday afternoon during peak visiting hours in Temecula Wine Country, but there were no reports of injuries due in part to quick thinking by Callaway staff.
According to Callaway Marketing and Events Manager Denise Sutterfield, about 30-40 of the winery’s club members were on hand Saturday in preparation for an upcoming grand opening celebration. Callaway has been expanding its facility and is scheduled for a ribbon cutting Aug. 21 and a Grand Opening weekend celebration Aug. 25-26.
The club members were enjoying the view on the tasting room’s new upper deck Saturday afternoon when the unusual weather occurred.
“There was a nice breeze and some rain,” Sutterfield said, explaining that the weather was a nice respite from the sweltering heat.
As club members cooled down, “within a minute it became evident it was no ordinary storm,” Sutterfield said.
Staff had been watching weather reports to decide whether to go forward with an outdoor performance on the estate's Shakespeare in the Vines stage scheduled that night, Sutterfield said.
“The crew was amazing,” she continued. They quickly moved members downstairs and into a safe area.
Although approximately 16 panels in total were blown off the facility, there were no injuries.
Sutterfield said the San Diego-based construction crew that has been working on the Callaway expansion came out Sunday and made repairs to the restaurant, which is expected to open back up for business tonight.
Stage and upper deck panels are expected to be repaired this week, Sutterfield said. The winery remains open to the public.
“All the downed trees have been moved and there is nothing blocking the way,” Sutterfield said.
Callaway Vineyard & Winery, one of Temecula's historic wineries, opened its newly renovated Visitor's Center July 7. The new 5,400-square-foot building expansion sits high atop the Temecula Valley.
The winery is privately owned by the Lin family of San Diego and was originally founded by Ely Callaway in 1969. The facility opened in the Temecula Valley in 1974.
Tornados, funnel clouds, and/or microbursts were spotted throughout the area over the weekend.
Following Saturday’s damage in the Temecula Valley, funnel clouds were reported around 4:30 p.m. Sunday in Lake Elsinore near the 15 Freeway and Central Avenue. There were no reports of damage or injuries.
At the same time, funnel clouds downed power poles around at Menifee Road and the Ramona Expressway in Perris. The damage forced the closure the Ramona Expressway, as well as Menifee Road between Nuevo and San Jacinto roads.
Weather forecasters are warning that the erratic conditions are on tap all week.
A flash flood watch is scheduled for the Inland Empire, Riverside County mountain areas and Coachella Valley through this evening.
"Very moist and unstable conditions will produce thunderstorms in the mountains and on desert slopes this afternoon," according to the National Weather Service. "These storms are expected to produce flash flooding in some areas. Portions of the Inland Empire along a line from Lake Elsinore toward Hemet could also be impacted by thunderstorms producing heavy rain."