“It’s all a matter of giving the customer what they’re looking for.” I spent some time with Ray Falkner recently at The Pinnacle Restaurant at Falkner Winery. Ray’s pride in what they offer at the Pinnacle is obvious. He calls their cuisine American Mediterranean style, a menu that offers healthy and popular food presented in a manner Rays says you won’t find anywhere else. Head Chef Gianni Ciciliot is in charge of not only the kitchen, but floor operations as well. He was working at Tommy Bahama’s in Newport Beach, commuting from Temecula when Ray offered him an opportunity to work closer to home.
The Pinnacle is open seven days a week for lunch only and features dishes like Lobster Macaroni and Cheese with four select cheeses and prosciutto, Chicken Cannelloni, Pan Seared Salmon and Herb Marinated Chicken. You’ll also find an array of appetizers, salads and soups with choices like Pulled Pork Sliders, Ahi Crusted Salad and Pecan Crusted Baked Brie.
Ray believes there are three distinct types of customers he caters to and he wants to make sure they all get the experience they’re looking for. First is the person who is out for a day of visiting wineries and doesn’t have a lot of time. For them he suggests an appetizer or soup and salad or sandwich. The second diner is the one who is ready for a break and is not in a rush. Perhaps they’re in the mood for a pasta dish, soup and sandwich or an entrée. Then there are those who come in for their main meal of the day. They want to take their time and may have an appetizer, entrée and dessert with a bottle of wine. One thing you’ll find on the Falkner wine list that you won’t find at many other wineries are wines from other wineries including an international selection. Ray feels it’s important to treat each customer uniquely, as someone who is pressed for time may be seated next to a table with people who are in no hurry at all.
The views from The Pinnacle are magnificent. It’s a panorama of the Temecula Wine Country and Falkner’s vineyards. The room is open and light and very tastefully decorated. The food is top shelf. There are recommended wines to go with everything on the menu and wine is the focus around which the menu evolves. Ray and wife Loretta strive to provide an excellent overall experience. From my perspective, it’s hard to go wrong with lunch at The Pinnacle.