Archive for March, 2016

In Memoriam ~ Vincenzo Cilurzo

Thursday, March 31st, 2016


Temecula Valley Wine Country is mourning the loss of one of our pioneers.  Vincenzo (Vince) Cilurzo, passed away peacefully at his home on Wednesday, March 9th, 2016.

Vince first found his love for wine in the 1960’s when his wife, Audrey, bought him a home-winemaking kit. Although, Vince and Audrey’s path to become wine country pioneers happened quite by accident.  In 1967, after spending many years in Hollywood as an Emmy Award-winning lighting director for several television shows and specials, Vince and Audrey decided to join a waiting list to open a McDonald’s franchise in Escondido, CA.  They were on their way to Escondido when they happened upon the beautiful valley of what was then called Rancho California; what we know today as Temecula.  They fell in love with the area and began to research real estate.  In the midst of their research they met Dick Break who had planted a couple of experimental vines in the area and told the Cilurzos that he’d done some climate studies and that the climate was very similar to that in Napa. The rest, as they say, is history.  The Cilurzos hired Mr. Break as a consultant and at his suggestion planted their very first first vines in 1968; Petite Sirah and Chenin Blanc. This would become the first commercial wine grape vineyard in the Temecula Valley.

Vince and Audrey grew grapes for the next ten years and during that time they learned everything they could about growing grapes and making wine. In 1978 they opened Cilurzo Winery, one of the first three wineries in Temecula.  At a time when Ely Callaway, founder of Callaway Winery was touting “White Wine Is All We Make”, the Cilurzos championed the growing of red wine grapes.  In the years after, when Temecula Valley Wine Country was beginning to see a surge in newcomers wanting their own wineries, they spent countless hours mentoring, providing support and encouragement to those who came in search of their own wine country dream.  Throughout the history of our wine country, the Cilurzos have been fierce supporters, and for that, we’re eternally grateful.

Goodbye, Mr. Cilurzo, you’ll be missed, but your legacy will forever remain.

Photo courtesy of Tom Plant and www.lifeandvinemagazine.com


Welcome New Temecula Wineries!

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

We’re excited to announce the opening of three new Temecula Valley Wine Country wineries!  We’ve been out to visit all three and can say that we were both impressed and enamored with them.  Here’s a brief introduction:

avensole4Avensole Winery:

Situated on the hilltop above Rancho California Road, Avensole is Temecula’s newest winery. Formerly Van Roekel Winery, this hilltop estate has long been known for its old-growth vines producing some of Temecula’s finest grapes. The property was purchased by the Lytton family in 2014 and has been extensively remodeled, includes a new restaurant, a marketplace with both wine and craft beer bars, a tasting room, a new indoor-outdoor wedding venue, and park-like setting with pond.  The Lytton Family is committed to using the property’s premium fruit to produce some of Temecula’s finest, premium wines. Their grand opening is on Saturday, April 9th…be sure to stop by!
34567 Rancho California Rd. Temecula, CA 92591

Fazeli Profile OrigFazeli Cellars:

Back in 2001,the Fazeli family decided to visit the Temecula Valley. It was just a relaxing day trip to explore the local wine country and at the time, no one realized that this was the beginning of what was to become a life changing adventure. The Fazeli’s fell in love with the Valley and purchased land to grow some grapes and maybe make a little wine. But BJ Fazeli doesn’t know how to do little! What started out as a hobby soon became the passion that resulted in the creation of Fazeli Cellars. They started with a small tasting room in Old Town Temecula and soon broke ground on their new winery on the De Portola Trail in Temecula Valley Wine Country.
37320 De Portola Road, Temecula, CA 92592

Masia de la Vinya:
Located in the beautiful valley of Temecula, California. This picturesque property is owned and operated by Bob Olson, who also owns Danza del Sol Winery. Masia de la Vinya, (roughly translated ‘manor house of the vineyard’) has a heavy Spanish influence in the wines and a Southern California ambiance, beautiful panoramic views and a friendly and knowledgeable staff. Formerly Masia de Yabar, Masia de la Vinya offers quality wine with a Spanish influence, affordable pricing , stunning views, and a casual wine tasting experience like no other in the valley.
39788 Camino Arroyo Seco, Temecula, CA 92592

Wine Country Recipe ~ Grilled Chicken and Avocado Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Thursday, March 31st, 2016


This month, we’re featuring rosé wine, as there’s truly nothing more refreshing for spring celebrations and dining!  And truth be told, America has fallen in love with rosé wines; it’s one of the fastest growing segments in the US wine market.

Here’s a perfect recipe to pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Rosé. Tender grilled chicken is enhanced with a dazzling lemon vinaigrette.


1 pound boneless, skinless half chicken breasts
extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
½ teaspoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon salt¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 large avocados, peeled, seeded, and cut into bite-size pieces
3 cups baby or regular arugula leaves
1 piece Parmesan cheese (for shaving)


1. Preheat the grill to medium high.
2. Cut each half chicken breast in half crosswise.
3. Brush the chicken pieces on both sides with olive oil. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
4. Grill the chicken pieces for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes.
5. To make the vinaigrette, pour the lemon juice in a large bowl. Whisk in the measured olive oil, lemon zest, honey, rosemary, garlic, and measured salt and pepper.
6. Cut chicken pieces crosswise into strips.
7. Add the chicken, avocado, and arugula to the vinaigrette. Toss gently to combine.
8. Divide the salad among the serving plates.
9. Top with shavings of Parmesan, cut with a vegetable peeler.

Suggested pairings: 

Callaway Vineyard & Winery ~ 2012 Special Selection Rosé of Sangiovese – A summery bouquet of rosy red fruit and flowers: strawberry, cherry, raspberry, rose petal and cherry blossom fill the nose and palate of this perfect warm weather wine.

Hart Winery ~ 2014 Rosé of Tempranillo –  Delightfully fruity, bursting with strawberry, watermelon and spice notes.

Miramonte Winery ~ 2014 Rosé – Racy strawberry and candied watermelon notes, beautiful melon and peach mid-palate, and long finish of rose petals, sugar-dusted citrus.

Oak Mountain Winery ~2013 River Rhodes Rosé of Syrah –  Blast of strawberries and tropical nuances in the nose with a smooth wild berry character on the palate.

Recipe and photo courtesy of The Wine Institute of California 



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