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Archive for January, 2017

The Women of Wine Country

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

The Wine Institute of California estimates that between 15-20% of California winemakers are women, which is an increase of 5-10% from the early 1990’s. According to the Gallup Poll’s Annual Consumption Habits Poll, 52% of women consumers say they drink wine more often than any other beverage compared to only 20% of men so it makes sense this historically male dominated field is becoming an appealing option for women. Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country is no exception. Talented women like Olivia Bue, winemaker at Robert Renzoni Vineyards and Winery, Valerie Andrews owner of Temecula Hills Winery and Oak Mountain Winery, and Cindy Palumbo owner of Palumbo Family Vineyards and Winery achieve success while raising families, giving back to the community, and inspiring other women in the industry.

Olivia Bue, winemaker for Robert Renzoni Vineyards and Winery, first got into wine through family. “I grew up in Encinitas, surrounded by a family who loved wine. Uncorking bottles was always in the equation at every family gathering; wine was our conduit to laughter and love. Around the age of 16, a close family friend who had enrolled at the UC Davis School of Viticulture and Enology told me about the program and experience. The moment I received my acceptance letter I made an easy decision to pack my bags and head up to Davis,” says Bue. She is undaunted by the physical labor and long hours, motivated by those who doubted her or judged her because she is young and female.

Bue advises women interested in entering the winemaking field to taste wine as much a possible, discuss wines with others, take classes and be patient. “Winemaking is such an art,” says Bue. “Yes, there is a lot of heavy manual labor and endless hours during harvest, but taking the time to understand your region’s complexities is something that takes time and a love of the art. Any gender can accomplish that!” Bue is especially passionate about Temecula Valley wines. “The more wines I taste outside of Temecula Valley, the more confident and proud I become of our region’s path. We are going in such a strong direction forward and I continue to be impressed at the quality of wines being made in Temecula Valley.”

Valerie Andrews, co-owner and co-founder of Oak Mountain Winery and Temecula Hills Winery, got her start in Temecula back in 1999 when she and her husband, Steve, moved to a 10-acre ranch just on the edge of Temecula’s wine country. They built Temecula Hills Winery on the property, which opened in 2001, and then Oak Mountain Winery on a separate property which opened in 2005. The vines were hand-planted by Valerie, Steve and their children in 2000. Now in her second decade of her wine career, Valerie is deeply loved by the community and consumers and admired and respected by her colleagues.

In addition to operating the wineries, Valerie’s community involvement runs deep. She balances her time running the day-to-day business operations at both wineries as well as serving on the board for the De Portola Wine Trail and on the hospitality committee for the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association. Valerie also founded Cause Fur Paws, a non-profit organization whose mission is assisting animals with diabetes and helping senior citizens with companion pets. Cause Fur Paws Inc., helps low income pet owners pay for 100% of their medical needs. Dog labeled wines and hand crafted cork tiaras can be found at Oak Mountain Winery with proceeds going to help local animals in need. In addition, Oak Mountain is the site of numerous dog events and charity fundraisers throughout the year.

Co-owner of Palumbo Family Vineyards and Winery, Cindy Palumbo has been in the valley since 1994. She first started at Callaway and Hart wineries with Joe Hart and John Moramarco. Now co-owner of Palumbo Family Vineyards and Winery, a 13 acre, 2500- case-per-year winery, with her husband Nick Palumbo, Cindy is very active in all aspects of the business. They are committed to small-lot, handcrafted wines from varieties grown on the property. She has also been instrumental in implementing sustainable farming and has helped to create more than just a winery but a “whole farm approach” to their agricultural activities believing that a winery should first and foremost be considered an agricultural entity. She is very active in the community and donates both time and money to local charities, including Big Hearts for Little Hearts of Temecula Valley, as well as the proceeds from her children’s books, the Farm Boy Series. The series is a collection of entertaining children’s books that teach about sustainable farming. In addition to working full time at the winery and authoring children’s books, Cindy has been deeply involved with teaching children to farm in a sustainable manner through a local 4-H program.

Whether by virtue of their family wine ties, passion, or drive, Bue, Andrews, and Palumbo are producing some of the valley’s best wines all while serving as pillars of leadership in Temecula Valley’s wine and farming community. These women are paving the way for future women winemakers and winery owners in Temecula Valley.

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Top Wines Paired with Top Aphrodisiac Foods

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country gets into the Valentine’s Day spirit by going one step beyond the chocolate and wine pairings so prevalent this time of year – aphrodisiac pairings. The popular wine destination shows the diversity and versatility of the region’s wines through suggested pairings with certain foods believed to be libido-enhancing.

“One of the things that makes Temecula Valley so special is the number of different grape varieties we can grow successfully here, thanks to our Mediterranean-like climate, as well as the broad spectrum of wine styles we produce. This makes experimenting with food pairings – even the most challenging ones – really exciting,” said Devin Parr, Wine Country Marketing Director for Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country. “We thought it would be fun to throw around some ideas about which Temecula Valley wines might go with foods rumored to be natural aphrodisiacs, given that Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Jury is still out on whether or not the foods actually work, but we had a lot of fun coming up with the list of pairings.”

Oysters + 2016 Hart Winery Arneis

Although the science behind this mollusk’s libido-boosting properties is murky at best, Oysters are one of the foods most commonly thought to have aphrodisiac effects. This is thought to be because they contain zinc, which is necessary to produce testosterone, as well as amino acids and serotonin, which enhance the body’s response to pleasure. Pair these briny bivalves with a crisp, mineral driven white, like Hart Winery’s 2016 Arneis.

Avocado + Thornton Winery Brut Reserve Natural NV

Avocado’s reputation for being an aphrodisiac dates back to the Aztecs, who believed in it so much that they prohibited virginal women from leaving the house while they were being harvested. Avocados are also rich in vitamin E, which boosts the immune system and helps give skin a youthful appearance, perhaps making us look more attractive to the objects of our affection. Pair a bowl of rich, creamy guacamole with something bright, bubbly and capable of cutting through the fattiness of the avocado, like Thornton Winery’s zero dosage Brut Reserve Natural Methode Champenoise sparkling wine. For extra oomph, sprinkle on some maca powder, whose libido-driving powers have been more firmly established in science.

Chili Peppers + 2015 Baily Rosé of Sangiovese

Chili peppers are known to stimulate endorphins, speed up heart rate and increase sweat production, all similar to what we undergo when we are getting in the mood. Spicy dishes can be tough to pair with wine. Stick to a wine with some acid, which can soften extremes in richness, fat or spice, as well as some fruitiness or residual sugar, which can help temper spicy heat. Try Baily’s easy-drinking, slightly off-dry Rosé of Sangiovese.

Coffee + 2012 Fazeli Cellars Shiraz

Much like chili peppers, coffee is a stimulant that increases heart rate and blood flow, contributing to feelings of an enhanced libido. Since an actual cup of coffee is one of wine’s worst enemies, try something like coffee-rubbed brisket paired with a complex, juicy red like Fazeli Cellars’ 2012 Shiraz, which also just received 92 points in the Wine Enthusiast.

Chocolate + 2008 Leoness Cellars Cinsaut Dessert Wine

It wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without chocolate, and probably for good reason. Chocolate is thought to boost passion levels through phenethylamine, the stimulant that is released in the brain when we fall in love, and tryptophan, which helps produce serotonin, a brain chemical associated with elevated moods and arousal. Choose a dopamine-spiking dark chocolate and pair it with something sweet and luscious, like Leoness Cellars’ 2008 port-style dessert wine of Cinsaut grapes.

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