Last Updated on December 17, 2023
Stepping into Corbeaux Wine and Tea House I can instantly sense the passion and love that went into creating it. My body hums with excitement because I know I’ve stumbled upon something special. Though at first glance it seems a bit too trendy for this 50-plus small-town gal, it doesn’t take long to feel thoroughly at home here.
A relative newcomer to the food and wine scene in Old Town Temecula, CA, Corbeaux emits an upscale, funky, French vibe, with unique bites, an extensive wine and tea menu, creative cocktails and sweet treats paired with cozy mismatched furnishings luring visitors into a state of relaxation.
The charming venue invites you to sit, make yourself comfortable, and stay a while.
Ambiance is Everything
Corbeaux’s design is a fusion of a French cafe, an intimate pub, and someone’s totally chic living/dining room. Every element of the decor seems to be carefully chosen with care and love.
Tucked away in a cozy nook to the left of the entrance is a Victorian-style couch, an eclectic mix of antique chairs and tables, and a bookcase full of greenery and knickknacks, the perfect spot to curl up with a good book, a cup of hot tea or glass of rosé and while away the afternoon.
The dining area features intimate booths and cafe tables with a combination of modern-day toile-covered bench seating and rustic chairs. The color palette is a soothing mauve and sage green with classic touches of art hanging throughout the space.
Colorful bouquets adorn the white marbled bar top while golden pendant lamps provide subtle lighting for patrons. Shelves adorned with a combination of clear jars filled with fresh herbal tea leaves and an impressive assortment of wine remind visitors why they’re here.
“I just wanted something really different and unique and it ended up being something totally different than what I had originally planned,” Regan Schneider, the 26-year-old owner and brainchild of this unique eatery, told me.
Much of the decor was sourced from her family’s houses which would explain why it feels like you’ve just been welcomed into a good friend’s home.
“We go out to eat a lot and I was tired of going to the same places that looked the same, that had the same things on the menu, and I was like, I guess I have to do it,” she added.
More than a Tasting Room
The tasting room was originally created to showcase Matin Du Bois Vintners wines, Schneider’s family’s wine label of which she’s been the chief winemaker since 2020.
Then, Corbeaux Wine and Tea House reimagined the traditional tasting room of California’s southern wine country by pairing wine and teas with an eclectic and varied French- and Asian-inspired tasting menu.
“We were going for something really nontraditional and something that was able to envelop our family life and be an extension of what we like to do at our house … which is that in the morning we drink tea and at night we drink wine,” Schneider explained. “We love to cook, make food, and do pairings, and that’s kind of what we did here at Corbeaux.”
Schneider admitted the full vision for the restaurant could not have come to fruition until a little bit of kismet arrived in the form of Chef Chris Gimeno. The seasoned chef was burnt out and trying to get out of the business, so he applied for a more low key serving job at Corbeaux.
The more the pair talked, the more Schneider had other ideas for Gimeno.
“I just knew he had to be our chef,” she said. “Between us and all of the brainstorming we did, it completely transformed Corbeaux into this super interesting tasting and wine and tea pairing experience.”
No matter how many times one visits Corbeaux, their culinary experience never has to be the same. On one visit, customers may find themselves sipping on a locally made red blend while noshing on a chile de arbol beef puff pastry or duck sandwich.
Another trip to the restaurant may call for a sampling of Schneider’s unique take on orange wine, the 2020 Ramato pinot grigio, and a selection of raw oysters.
Or, if like my companions and I, one happens upon the boutique eatery with an already full belly after dinner in Old Town, desserts may be in order (because there’s always room for dessert).
Perhaps a sampling of lemon, lavender (sourced from Schneider’s mother Jan’s Temecula Lavender Company) and chocolate orange marinér macarons paired with one of the restaurant’s unique signature cocktails is in order.
The lavender mylk is a tantalizing combination of lavender, natural rosé wine, cream, yuzu and ‘biscott-tea’. I chose a delectable maple spiced tea that warmed my insides while transporting me home to the sugarhouses of New England. One friend sipped on a seasonable apple spice sangria, the other enjoyed a glass of perfectly chilled Chardonnay.
Wine and Tea Tastings
Corbeaux’s menu is ever-changing as Schneider and Gimeno find their groove, get input from customers or add seasonal dishes to their repertoire, but the pièce de résistance at the Second Street restaurant is definitely the tasting experience.
Corbeaux’s wine and tea tastings feature a selection of labels hailing from California’s various wine regions —Paso Robles, Sonoma, Napa, and, of course, Temecula — while teas are courtesy of Old Town Tea and Spice Merchants just a few blocks down the road. Schneider spends as much time perfecting these experiences as she did every other element of the restaurant.
“Regan has spent a lot of time sampling tea to pair with her food,” Sue Kelly, owner of Old Town Tea and Spice Merchants, told me. “When she changes her menu, she samples more teas. I love that because she could just go with our suggestions, but she takes the time to taste first.”
Creative Sensory Experience
There’s also a premium option available at Corbeaux described as an “educational and sensory experience.”
This is where Gimeno demonstrates his creative finesse in pulling flavors together on a plate with dishes like the kinilaw, a ceviche dish inspired by his Filipino heritage featuring Hamachi, yellowtail sashimi, calamansi pickled serrano relish and cherry tomatoes. Or, there’s the artichoke yakitori, a roasted artichoke, asparagus and shitake mushroom dish finished with sesame dressing and yes, Cocoa Pebbles dust.
Corbeaux also offers an affordable caviar tasting, a first for Temecula and one of Schneider’s favorites for people who’ve never had the opportunity to try caviar.
“We really wanted people to be able to experience this luxury without having to pay so much for it and still have it be of really high quality,” she explained.
Community Support for Corbeaux
Temecula exudes a strong community spirit with its entrepreneurs supporting one another in a big way.
Award-winning chef Leah Di Bernardo, owner and founder of E.A.T. Marketplace, a 14-year-staple of Old Town’s food scene is a fan of Corbeaux, telling me, “I find the food whimsical. Small plates, small bites. You do not go there to get full, for dinner, but to enjoy a small pairing. “I know that places like hers in a town like Temecula have so much value. We need her in business. She’s a rare find.”
Corbeaux has been garnering plenty of fans since its opening April of 2022, including fellow businesswomen like Kelly and Di Bernardo who are cheering Schneider on.
“What she is bringing to Old Town is something that many of our customers have been asking for,” Kelly said. “A place to sit down and enjoy a good cup of tea with your friends. She has provided a beautiful space with amazing food to go with it.”
Corbeaux is located at 41923 Second Street in Temecula. It is open Wednesday through Monday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.