Archive for April, 2014

Temecula Spring Wines and Special Sparklers for Mother’s Day

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

May is a big month for wine and dine celebrations! Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, weddings and spring birthdays… So what Temecula Valley wines perform best in these lovely pre-summer months? And what’s the best seasonal fare to pair them with?

*Reminder tip! Get the most balanced flavor from your bottle by using the simple 15 minute rule for serving all wine: Pull whites and rosés out of the fridge 15 minutes before drinking; put reds in the fridge for 15 minutes before drinking.


Spring Whites: Crisp Vermentino and Floral Viognier-Rousanne Blend

Try some unique whites this spring and give your family something to talk about at the next picnic. How about…

Of Spanish-Mediterranean origin, Vermentino is often a grape used in white-wine blending. Relatively low in alcohol with crisp acids, Cougar Winery offers their 100% 2013 Vermentino for $17. Serve this white alongside grilled spring vegetables like asparagus, artichokes and charred green onions.

Palumbo Family Vineyards’ Brezza di Mare Viognier-Rousanne is a Rhone-style blend (meaning in the style of the Rhone wine region in the South of France) which sells for $19.95. Made up of 75% Viognier and 25% Rousanne, this food-friendly white blend has a minerality that goes nicely with fresh seafood (think chilled mussels and shrimp) or a charcuterie platter if you’re having a weekend get-together.


Spring Reds: Fruity Merlot and Spicy Tempranillo

Lighten up with some easy-drinking reds, perfect for a spring day or evening. We recommend…

Leoness Cellars focuses on sustainable practices in the vineyards and it shows in their wines. Try the fruit-forward 2010 Vineyard Selection Merlot, $55. This bottle is a great stand-alone drinker and has a high likelihood of being consumed before the food is finished cooking. But if you must pair it with your meal, serve with a medium-rare pork loin with cherry compote or a spring pasta tossed with early-season tomatoes, asparagus and caramelized spring onions.

Miramonte Winery offers an excellent quality 2010 Tempranillo for $38.95. Technically a blend (80% Tempranillo, 10% Grenache, 10% Cinsault), this Spanish red pairs well with cooked meats hot off the grill, like lamb chops and brats served with a side of grilled peppers and onions.


Special Wines for Mother’s Day: Sparklers and Spring Three-Packs

Think ahead and pop into one of these Temecula wineries for mom’s perfect brunch beverage. Our favorites…

For special toasts to mom, there’s nothing like a sparkler. But first, some background. What’s the difference between champagne and spumante? Well, it begins with the country of origin. For a sparkling wine to be officially designated as “Champagne” it must be made in the Champagne region of northeast France. Spumante (also known as Asti Spumante) is a sparkling white wine from the Piedmont region of Italy, made from Muscat Bianco grapes.

Champagne and spumante are crafted differently as well. Unlike Champagne, Asti is not made sparkling through the use of secondary fermentation in the bottle but rather through a single tank fermentation utilizing the Charmat method. While Champagne can land anywhere on the scale between sec (sweet) or brut (dry), Spumante tends to be on the sweeter side; another well-known version is Moscato d’Asti.

Ponte Estate offers two California bubblies: the popular Moscato and the beautiful Rose Spumante. Moscato – by itself or in a Mimosa with fresh OJ or tangerine juice – pairs perfectly with your Sunday Mother’s Day brunch (think Quiche Lorraine and fruit.) Its gentle bubbles will tickle your taste buds with mellow flavors of apricot and nectarine. Even better, pick up Ponte’s Sparkling Wine Trio for $92 (or $69 wine club sale.) You’ll get a bottle of Moscato 2012, Rose Spumante 2012 and Vernaccia Nera 2011.  This sparkling trio will certainly keep glasses filled throughout your Mother’s Day celebrations.

Another top winery choice for that special Mother’s Day bottle is South Coast Winery, which makes a variety of unique California sparkling wines like Pinot Noir Rosé, Pinot Grigio Sparkling and Spumante Diamonte. Pair these with your favorite brunch items – eggs benedict, french toast with strawberries and even a ham & cheese melt topped with powdered sugar (ala Monte Carlo.) And send mom home with a bottle, too.

Last but not least, Leoness Cellars has put together a hand-selected spring three pack for your Mother’s Day picnic: White Merlot, Grenache and Melange de Blanc. The White Merlot is a lovely pink hue, bursting with berry flavors. Melange de Blanc is a Rhone-style white wine blend of Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne and pairs perfectly with seafood, soft french cheese and seasonal fruit like fresh strawberries. The Grenache is a soft and supple medium-bodied red (a warm-climate alternative to Pinot Noir) that matches the flavor of barbecued meats and light pasta salad. Remember to serve all three of these wines cool.


Happy Spring & Happy Mother’s Day from Temecula Valley Wine Country!













Big Dreamers: Mike Rennie & Gary Winder, Leoness Cellars

Monday, April 28th, 2014

In the third installment of our new blog series “Big Dreamers,” we interview veteran wine experts and longtime partners Mike Rennie and Gary Winder, owners of Leoness Cellars on De Portola Road in Temecula Valley. When Mike and Gary founded their winery in 2003, they chose the name Leoness Cellars, which means “village of dreams” in Gaelic.

Farming citrus and avocados in the region as far back as the 1970’s, Gary teamed with up with fellow farmer and friend Mike to begin their viticulture journey in 1990.  They opened the first version of the tasting room in 2003 and the upgraded edition in 2006.  Now one of the most beloved and picturesque wineries in Temecula Valley, Leoness focuses on top quality wines, sustainable practices in the vineyards and first-class service in their tasting room and restaurant.

Photo Credit: Touring & Tasting

Check in every month where we feature a new interview with our Temecula Valley winemakers and winery owners. You’ll learn where they’ve come from before settling in Temecula, CA – and what keeps them passionate about the sometimes not-so-glamorous art (and science) of making good wine in California.

Interview with Winery Owner and Winemaker Mike Rennie, Leoness Cellars

1.  What were you doing before owning and operating your winery?

Gary Winder and I have been farming in Temecula for many years. We farm not only wine grapes but citrus and avocados. This harvest will be Gary’s 64th.

2.  What inspired you to want to buy a winery and what were the circumstances around choosing Temecula Valley, CA?

Most wineries come from farming families. We truly wanted to taste the fruits of our labors so Leoness came about. And we wanted the world to know that Temecula Valley and the South Coastal region are as good as anywhere in the world to farm premium wine grapes.


3.  What were your expectations of the winemaker lifestyle at the beginning?

We didn’t have too many allusions of grandeur. As hard working farmers and having been around the industry for decades we knew the back side, so to speak. It all adds up to hard work, quality control and a lot of sweat.


4.  People might think winemaking is glamorous.  Would you like to set them straight?

There is a glamour side to wine. There is the romance that goes along with fine wine, great food and times with those you love. We love sharing these things with friends and wine club members. It still comes down to working in the dirt and hot sun, and attention to detail to grow the finest premium wine grapes. Great wine starts in the vineyard.


5.  What is your least favorite thing about running a winery?  What is your most favorite – the reason you get up in the morning?

My least favorite thing is when things don’t go right in our customer service area. We know there is no perfection, but that is what we attain to. When for some reason we miss the mark, it’s disappointing. What makes us the happiest is when we can share the perfect wine experience with our guests.


To learn more about California’s Big Dreamers, click here!

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Temecula May Winery Events

Friday, April 25th, 2014

The May flowers have arrived! Temecula Valley is blooming with fun spring events for your friends and family. Celebrate Mother’s Day by having great wine and eating a delicious meal in wine country, or come mid-week with your best friend for a fun wine event where you can sip on new wines or attend a class.

Baily Vineyard & Winery

Mother’s Day Champagne Buffet Brunch
Sun May 11 / 11:00a, 11:30a, 1:00p and 1:30p seatings
Sumptuous buffet of breakfast items
$59.95 pp / $19.95 children 12 and under, 5 and under are free.
Reservations required. Please call Carol’s Restaurant at 951-676-9243

Memorial Day Tasting “5 Wines from ’09”
May 24-26 / Baily Estate Tasting Room
Sit-down tasting $30, or bar tasting $20
Merlot, Meritage, Cab Sauv, Cab Franc and Port all from 2009
Food pairing will be included with the sit-down vertical
Reservations required 951-972-9768

Dog Day Sundays
Every Sunday / 11:30a-2:30p
Bring your well-mannered pooch to lunch

Estate Club Private Wine Tasting
Thursday-Sunday / 11:00a-2:30p
Tours and vertical tasting of Boudreaux reds
Call for reservations: 951-972-9768.ns: 951-972-9768.

Bel Vino Winery

Live Music
Saturdays & Sundays in May / 12:00p-4:00p
May 3 – The Counterfeits
May 4 – JD Priest
May 10 – Gino & Lone Gunman
May 11 – Bruce Glover
May 17 – Cougrzz Rock
May 18 – Ben Powell
May 24 – Dominic Rocha
May 25 – Bruce Glover
May 31 – Mor Sol

Mother’s Day Brunch
Sun, May 11 / 10:00a-3:00p
$59.95 pp / $49.95 pp, wine club / $22.95 children
Champagne brunch with live music and a special gift for Mom.
Reservations required by calling 951-676-6414.

Briar Rose Winery

Sip Into Sunset
May 2 / 5:30p-9:00
Sunset and live music by Buzz Campbell while enjoying food and wine.
Call 951-308-1098 to make reservations.
Seating is limited.

Callaway Vineyard & Winery

Prime Rib Fridays
Every Friday at Meritage from 5p-8:00p
Three-course Prime Rib dinner for $35 pp
Reservations are not required. No cover.

Sangria Sundays at Meritage at Callaway
Every Sunday at Meritage from 4p-8p in the main dining room.
Watermelon Sangria & live music from local musicians begins at 5pm.
No cover charge and no reservations required.

Mother’s Day Specials at Meritage at Callaway
Sun May 11 / Beginning at 11:00a
Lunch selections prepared by Chef Michael Henry or
Special dinner off of new spring inspired menu from 5:00p-8:00p.
Reservations are required. To make a reservation, call 951-587-8889.

Cougar Winery

Mother’s Day Wine & Cheese Pairing Special
Sunday, May 11 / 11:00a-6:00p
Wine & Cheese pairing
$25 per person day of, or $20 per person if pre-paid with an RSVP.
To RSVP, call 951-491-0825 ext. 2.

Doffo Winery

Mother’s Day Lunch
Sunday, May 11 / 11:00a-1:00p
$15 adults / $12 children
Pasta lunch w/ glass of Paulina Sparkling
RSVP on website at www.doffowines.com.

Breakfast and Balloons
May 30 – June 1 / 6:00a-8:00a
Complimentary, but please RSVP at www.doffowines.com
Coffee and pastries will be available

Kurt Cacelli Charity Event
Sat May 31 / 10:00a /
$10 pp / www.doffowines.com/motodoffoevent.

Falkner Winery

Sunday Concerts & BBQ
Every Sunday in May from 12:00p-3:00p.
No reservations necessary.

Mother’s Day Champagne Brunch
May 11 / 10:00a-3:30p / $59.95 pp / $49.95 pp club.
Children 3-10 $24.50 / Children under 3 are free
Reservations- call 951-676-8231 ext. 1 or www.falknerwinery.com
Reservations are available from 10:00a-3:30p.

Frangipani Estate Winery

Cigar Night
May 2 / 6:30p-9:30p / $55 pp
Dinner catered by Tropical BBQ, cigar and glass of wine.
Reservations required by April 28th, call 951-699-8845

Lorimar Winery

Live Music
Fridays & Saturdays 6p-9p / Sundays 2p-5p

Tacos, Salsa, Dancing, Wine-Rita’s and More!
Sunday, May 4 / Cinco de Mayo Celebration
Strawberry Wine-ritas & Best Sombrero Contest

Movie in the Vines
Sunday, May 4 / May the Fourth Be With You
Film begins at sunset. Bring a light saber for a free concession snack
Bring your own beach chair or blanket
Films are subject to change without notice.

Mother’s Day Specials
Buy your Mom wine… You’re the reason she drinks!
Special offer – 1 trip to Mimosa Bar, 1 pastry & a 10 minute chair massage for $10.

Happy 2nd Birthday, Lorimar Winery!
May 17th
All day festivities and the Soiree begins at 6:00p

Movie in the Vines
May 26 / Stripes
Wine bar and concession stand will be open at 6:00p
Bring your own beach chair or blanket
Films are subject to change without notice.

Mount Palomar Winery

Live Music
Enjoy complimentary music on the patio / 1:00p-4:00p
May 3 – The Barstow Prophets
May 10 – Joachim Nordensson
May 17 – Dean Dixon
May 18 – Bodie
May 24 – Harmony Road
May 25 Mariner
May 31 – 3 Blind Mice

Wine Country Wiener Fest
May 4 / 11:00a-4:00p
For more information, please see www.wienerfest.info.

Bottles “n” Brushes (Painting Class with Wine!)
May 8 / 1:00p-4:00p / 2 tickets for $80
Contact Dorothy Hawthorne at 951-302-3088 for more information.

Dead Man’s Party Concert (a tribute to Oingo Boingo)
May 17 / 6:00p-10:00p
For more information, visit www.heyday.com.

Bottles “n” Brushes (Painting Class with Wine!)
Thursday, May 22 / 1:00p-4:00p / 2 tickets for $80
Contact Dorothy Hawthorne at 951-302-3088 for more information.

Oak Mountain Winery

Live Music in the Pavilion
Every Saturday and Sunday in May / 1:00p-5:00p

Pet Fair
Sunday, May 4 / 11:00a-5:00p / Free admission
Bring your pooch and come on out.
A great place to adopt a dog, find a dog trainer, pet food, etc.
The tasting room carries dog wines available for tasting or purchase.

Oak Mountain Winery University
2014 Spring Semester Classes / $15 pp; $12 pp members
Classes run for one hour. To sign up, call or text 951-880-8840

Bubbles 101
Sparkling Wine Class
You will be served 3 sparkling wines paired with artisanal cheeses.
Learn fun facts about sparkling wines & champagne.

Blending Reds
Create, bottle and label your very own blend
In our Blending Class, you get to be the Winemaker!
Ooption to bottle your custom blend for an additional $29.

Wine Tasting for Dummies 101
Beginners class for Wine Tasters
Basics of wine tasting
Sample eight infused Avocado Oils and Balsamic Vinegars

Rhone Wine Class 201
Learn how these grapes are grown here & how wine is made
Taste varietals from different areas in the Rhone region of France.
3 wine tastings and 8 tastings of Avocado Oil and Balsamic Vinegars.

Bordeaux Wine Class 201
Learn how these grapes are grown, harvested & processed
3 wine tastings and 8 tastings of Avocado Oil and Balsamic Vinegars.
We recommend that you have taken Wine Tasting 101 class prior to this course.

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa

Go Green with Va Va Verde
Just $105 per person
50-minute full body ‘therapeutic’ massage
Receive a $20 spa voucher towards any $85+ spa treatment on return
Book by calling 951.587.9463

Wine & Dine Chef’s Table at the Vineyard Rose Restaurant
Ccustom five-course menu just for you.
Winemakers then pair each course with wines
For 2-8 guests, $135 pp
Call 951-491-8077 to reserve your table today.

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa’s WINOS (Women In Need of Serenity)
Monday-Thursday / 11:30a-2:30p
Unique wine-themed items available for purchase
Half price Mimosas, Sangria & glasses of select wines
$2 off all appetizers / Call for Reservations 951-587-9463 x 2

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa’s Divas in D’Vines
Every Sunday during football season from 12:00 to 3p
Enjoy half priced mimosas, sangria & Spumante Diamante.
Reservations Recommended. Call 951-587-9463 x 2

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa’s Vintage Vantage Menu
Mon-Thur 11:30a -3:00p
$9.99 lunches -Vineyard Rose Restaurant, 55&over
Call 951-587-9463 x 2

Marvelous Mondays
5:30p to 9p each week
Half-priced bottles of select wines with the purchase of 2 entrees
Call 951.587.9463 today or visit here

Wine Down Wednesdays
Enjoy live music & half-priced select appetizers w/ purchase of 2 entrees
Enjoy with our Winemakers Reserve bottles of South Coast Wines.
Call 951.587.9463 today or visit here

Behind the Scenes Winery Tour
Daily / 11:00a and 1:00p / $40pp / Members $35pp
Stroll the vineyards and the winery
Private, plated wine & cheese pairing with a Wine Concierge.
Reservations strongly suggested: Call 951.587.9463 x7219.

Thornton Winery

Live Music
Complimentary Live Music on Weekends
Fridays 6:00p-9:00p / Saturdays 1:00p-4:00p / Sundays 12:30p-3:30p

Mother’s Day Buffet
Sunday, May 11/ 11:00a-4:00p
$62.95 pp / $22.95 children (children under 5 are free)

Summer Concert Series
Jazz Attack / May 17 / 7:00p / $85 pp / Gourmet Supper $160 pp
Chris Isaak / May 24 / 7:00p / $95 pp / Gourmet Supper $170 pp

Thornton Winery’s Chef’s Counter
May 30 / 7:00p / $125 pp
Interactive Chef’s Table in a private kitchen
Five-course meal /Seating limited to 10 people
For reservations, call 951-699-0099

Vindemia Winery

Temecula Wine Country Meet & Greet with James Kimber
Democrat running for the 50th Congressional District
May 9 / www.kimberforcongress.com

Wilson Creek Winery

Mother’s Day Brunch
May 11 / 10:00a-3:00p
Brunch buffet, petting zoo, live music, special gift for Mom
Brunch only: $49.95 pp; $44.95 members
Brunch with champagne: $59.95; $53.95 members
Reservations required: 951-699-9463


Wine Country Recipe: Pecan-Orange Pancakes for Mother’s Day

Monday, April 21st, 2014

Pecan-Orange Pancakes
Recipe courtesy of The Restaurant at Ponte
Pair with Ponte Winery’s 2012 Moscato

Serves 2

2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
Zest of 2 oranges, finely chopped
½ cup pecans, lightly toasted and chopped
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 ¼ tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon salt
Pure Maple Syrup

How to Make:
Beat eggs and milk together. Add flour, sugar, orange zest, toasted pecans, oil and salt. Mix to combine, using care to break up any flour lumps. Melt about 1 tablespoon of butter on a griddle or skillet and ladle in ¼ to 1/3 cup pancake batter. When the small bubbles that appear in the batter begin to burst, flip the pancake and cook for a few more minutes. Remove from pan and serve with butter and maple syrup.  Pair with Ponte Winery’s 2012 Moscato and add some fresh orange juice for a delicious mimosa.



Reminder: Grape Day is Thursday, April 17

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Temecula Valley’s 31st Annual Grape Day Conference is taking place this Thursday, April 17 at South Coast Winery Resort & Spa.

All viticulture professionals and enthusiasts are welcome. This includes winemakers, winery & vineyard owners, managers and anyone with an interest in the California wine industry.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Click here for the conference agenda

Purchase Grape Day tickets here.

Ticket price includes:continental breakfast

  • Educational seminars from California enology experts
  • Lunch
  • Vendor exhibits
  • Wine and cheese reception



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