Blog

Archive for the ‘Meet Your Winemaker’ Category

Dream Big, Temecula Valley Winemakers!

Friday, January 30th, 2015

DSCN0926

This week we’re at the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium in Sacramento for a yearly industry event that helps keeps us all “in the know”.  Apart from pouring a sampling of fabulous Temecula Valley wines to some of the 14,000+ attending wine lovers, we caught up with a few of our own to find out what they were dreaming about while walking through the chock full convention center.

Arturo Villareal, winemaker at Danza del Sol was looking for some new barrels.  But what he’s really dreaming about is a new, much larger wine cellar.  Sorry, Art!  I don’t think they actually sell those.

We caught up with Damian and Marcello Doffo who were in the midst of purchasing a water treatment system for Doffo Winery. While it’s a much needed purchase, there’s certainly much more fun things to buy…

DSCN0885

Nick and Cindy Palumbo were looking for some portable stainless steel tanks.  And dreaming of a cold beer! As Nick always says, “it takes a lot of beer to make wine.”

BJ Fazeli, who’s winery is being built as we speak, needs everything for his new winery.  He brought along his wallet and is definitely dreaming BIG.

The Wiens brothers are in the market for a new de-stemmer but are dreaming about a new optical sorter that will separate and remove the less than perfect grapes from the sorting table.  It’s a winemaker thang!

JD Harkey and Chase Drake, of Drake Enterprises are dreaming REALLY big and hoping Ben pops for a machine harvester this year.

Jon McPherson and Javier Flores, the dynamic duo of winemakers at South Coast, were searching out some “state of the art” lab equipment for the new Carter Estate Winery which is scheduled to open in just a few weeks.

All in all, I’d say the Temecula Valley winemakers, while truly dreaming big dreams, were pretty down to earth.  Except for Art and that new cellar…

Share

Thank a Winemaker Day!

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Thank a Winemaker Day!

Anatomy of Winemaker

Gus Viszgirda, Wilson Creek winemaker

A recent photo shared by Wilson Creek Winery, “The Anatomy of a Winemaker”, created by winemaker, Gus Viszgirda, certainly gave us all a laugh. But it also made us think…

Clearly, making great wine is a hands-on profession. And the picture truly illustrates what our winemakers look like to us on any given work day. Gone is the clean clothed, shiny shoe’d, wine sipping winemakers most of our visitors are accustomed to seeing. Most of the time, they’re rubber boot wearing, wine stained cellar dwellars who are dragging hoses, cleaning tanks and topping barrels – all which are part of a days work. Truth be told, most days you couldn’t slap the smile off their faces.  Winemaking truly is a labor of love!

So, in their honor, we’ve decided to declare today, “Thank A Winemaker” day! Let your favorite winemaker know how much you appreciate all the effort that goes into each bottle. Without their dedication, what would we be drinking???

Share

Dream Big ~ Oak Mountain Winery

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Check in every month where we feature a new interview with our Temecula Valley winemakers and winery owners. You’ll learn where they came 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.

Steve and Val hard hat-ting it!

Steve and Val hard hat-ting it!

Our ongoing series this month features Steve and Valerie Andrews of Oak Mountain Winery. Val’s dad and uncle were in the gourmet wine business back in the 60’s, way before it was popular. And all it took was a wine tasting trip with Val’s dad for Steve to get bit by the winemaking bug.

Why (on earth!) did you get into the wine business?
Well, we were already in love with the wine industry.  We lived on 10 acres, so we just  decided to plant it and try our hands at making some. Next thing we knew, we had three wine barrels of some pretty awesome wine and we just decided it was time to open a winery so we could actually sell all this liquid gold. That was the beginning of our home winery, Windy Ridge Cellars (now Temecula Hills Winery) in 2001.

And why Temecula?
Well, we lived here – and the climate is great for growing grapes. After several years of operating out of our home winery, we purchased the property where we now have Oak Mountain Winery.  We’ve been open since 2005.

So what’s it really like running a family owned and operated winery?
If you don’t love what you do you will never succeed in running a winery. We work seven days a week; 10-12 hours a day. But we DO love it!

What is it you MOST love?
We love the people we meet, the other winery owners and the lifestyle we live. We love the continuing education we receive at seminars – and what we learn from talking to other winemakers and owners. We love that there’s endless opportunities that the winery can offer to our guests. It allows us to be creative in our label designs, our tours and special deals, and our parties and events. We make each of them our own. For us it’s a shared interest we both love to explore.

So, on the opposite side of that, what keeps you awake at night?
There are challenges with running a small family business. The mix of all of our family’s personalities – working together every day – it’s a challenge for sure. But we like challenges! And, it makes us happy almost all of the time.

And the Caves! What does it mean to have (almost!) completed a project of this magnitude? I mean, really! How lucky are we???
The caves. A huge insightful undertaking! Two years in planning and nine months of digging. We’re still looking at about three more months to finish up all the little details. There is nothing like this in Southern California. When you get the chance to tour our caves, we promise you that you’ll feel like you’re on a mini vacation to Europe; like being sent back in time. We’re so excited and proud to have the first mined cave in Southern California. We just can’t wait for it to be finished!

Share

Big Dreamers: Nick & Cindy Palumbo, Palumbo Family Vineyard & Winery

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Welcome to our new blog series: “Big Dreamers.”

Here you’ll read about the inspiring true stories of 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.

Nick & Cindy Palumbo have owned and operated Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery since 1998.

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

NICK:  I have done A LOT! I was an ocean lifeguard, a rock star in NYC, a chef and now – winemaker.

CINDY:  I was an insurance agent for 15 years prior to the winery.

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

NICK: I was just coming back to SoCal after time in NY and lucked into this emerging Valley.  I saw potential for better wine and vineyard quality than what was here before, so I took charge.

CINDY:  I was already living in Temecula Valley and met Nick after he purchased the vineyards. A few years later I encouraged him to turn the garage into a winery, to quit selling his fruit to other winemakers and to open up his own shop.

3.  What were your expectations of the winemaker lifestyle at the beginning?  Were they way off or right on?

NICK:  I only expected to have to work really hard.  I wanted to prove it could be done through hard work and sacrifice. I certainly didn’t expect to make any money at it. I was right! I knew what I wanted – and the rewards for making quality wine would come if I just kept my head down and proved it though doing it.

CINDY:  I had zero expectations of the lifestyle – and that’s probably a good thing. It’s not nearly as glamorous as most people think – but I wouldn’t change it!

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

NICK:  If you’re an authentic winemaker, the glamorous parts come when no one is looking. It’s a lifestyle that you can’t pretend to live. Working hard, raising children and farming for quality is the reward… not what people see in the magazines.

CINDY:  There are definitely some glamorous sides to the wine industry. Nick is so down-to-earth and he takes winemaking so seriously that we don’t really experience that side of it in our lives. A true winemaker is focused on just that – making good wine.

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

NICK: There really is no part of what I do that is worse or better. If you love what you do for a living, then it’s all good!

CINDY:   Least favorite thing about owning a winery is probably the fact that we can never get away from it. We live there, we sleep there, we work there, we are raising our family there; it’s always our focus. Sometimes I think it would be nice to just be able to work 9 to 5 and leave the office at the office. My favorite part about it is the lifestyle. We live in the middle of a vineyard, we raise our own animals, our (four) kids get to grow up see what we make with our hands. Winemaking in Temecula is truly a labor of love that we are allowed to include our whole family in.

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

Inline image 1
#dreambig
http://visitcalifornia.com/dream365

Subscribe to VisitCA channel:
http://www.youtube.com/user/VisitCA

Like VisitCA on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/VisitCA

Follow VisitCA on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/VisitCA

 

Share

Winery Spotlight: Get to Know… Miramonte Winery

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

Miramonte Winery

 

The Story

Miramonte Winery is the passion project of Cane Vanderhoof, whose entrepreneurial spirit and love of wine led him to found this Temecula Valley winery in 2000. Located among the wineries on Rancho California Road, Miramonte is perched on a stunning hilltop overlooking the valley. The contemporary-chic tasting room, expansive patio and garden verandas offer an elegant and peaceful way to experience Southern California’s wine country.

Miramonte Winery is a dog-friendly winery, so bring your four-legged friends! And if wine tasting is not enough, sample one of the winery’s fabulous Food Boards (more details below) or enjoy live music entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights from 7-10pm.

 

 

The Wines

Miramonte specializes in wines made from Rhone grape varieties, including their Provence-style Grenache rosé and Estate Syrah. Visitors can also look forward to sipping favorites like Cabernet, Chardonnay and Sangiovese. Check out the Miramonte wine store here!

Miramonte Wines

Miramonte Wine

All of Miramonte’s wines are handcrafted by seasoned winemaker, Reinhard Schlassa, whose pedigree includes a lengthy stint at Oregon’s renowned Argyle Winery, where he made sparkling wines in the Methode Champenois style. UC Davis educated, he has made wine with many icons of the industry, on three continents, over a span of two decades.

The Miramonte vineyards are sustainably managed. Taking into account the climate and the soil, the team at Miramonte has chosen a natural approach to farming in order to protect the land and sustain the amazing cycle of life that exists in the vineyard.

Click here for more info on Miramonte Winery Wine Club!

 

Wine Tasting

Tastings are $12 for 6 tastes Monday through Friday, and $15 on Saturdays and Sundays.

www.HulsePhoto.com

Bottled wines are $15-$40. Wines by the glass are $5-$12.

On Saturdays and Sundays, Miramonte offers chef-prepared artisan cheese, charcuterie and Mediterranean food boards for $15-$25.

When to Visit

Generally speaking, Monday through Thursday can be a quieter tasting experience with plenty of personal attention from the staff. If you’re looking for a little more energy, consider visiting Friday through Sunday. Peak hours are 2-6pm.

The Ultimate Winery Tour

Miramonte Winery tours take guests through the vineyard, the crush pad and the barrel cellar, offering VIP access to the incredible property. Tours are approximately 30 minutes, followed by a private, beautifully-appointed wine tasting on the amazing Starlight Veranda.

Monday thru Friday, $20

Wine tasting included
Available 12-5 PM, by appointment only.

Saturday & Sunday, $25

Wine tasting included
Regular Tours 12 PM & 2 PM, reservations required.

Tours Phone: (951) 506-5500 #108
Tours Email: tours@miramontewinery.com
*Private tours subject to available time slots.
 
Miramonte Winery Address:  33410 Rancho California Rd Temecula, CA 92591-4928
Phone #: (951) 506-5500
Hours:  Sunday – Thursday; 11am – 6pm. Friday & Saturday; 11am – 10pm
Website: miramontewinery.com

 

Miramonte Winery, Temecula Valley

 

Share

Meet Your Winemaker…..Damian Doffo, Doffo Winery

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Damian and Marcelo Doffo

The father and son team of Marcelo and Damian Doffo share winemaking duties at their family-owned Doffo Winery, and pride themselves on handcrafted wines through which they share their Argentine and Italian heritage. Both men share a passion for great wine and vintage motorcycles-the latter which they display in MotoDoffo, the family’s private collection of over 100 beautiful bikes from years past.

Patriarch Marcelo was off on a business trip, so son Damian is profiled in this month’s “Meet Your Winemaker.”  We’re sure Dad would be proud!

1) What inspired you to go into winemaking?

When I was 10, my father started making wine in our backyard, and I had no intention of becoming a winemaker due to him telling me I was going to help him and “that was that.” However, as I grew older, the inspiration started coming from becoming a wine enthusiast, which eventually grew into a desire to learn the craft. I sincerely cherish being able to share the passion with my father and the time we spend developing a wine together is what keeps us going. Winemaking is as much of an art as it is a science, and to be able to create something that brightens someone’s mood is enough motivation to continue mastering our craft.
2) Did you have a winemaking mentor, and if so, can you tell us a bit about him or her?
I believe it goes without saying that my father is my mentor. His philosophy to winemaking is to keep it simple and to make do with what you have. When my father first started out in this industry, the tools, facilities and his own knowledge were very sparse, so the production was done with minimal resources. It may have not been the ideal situation but he always got the job done.  As we developed and became a winery, our production methods have still continued to be very simple and we trust our instincts when it comes to decision making.  We feel that although we are growing, we can not lose our way of doing things, so we continue to handcraft our wines and do not employ all the technological amenities offered for wine production. In other words, we like to keep it “old school.”

3) Have you had any “oops” moments during your early days of winemaking? If so, we’d love to hear the story!

For the safety of my employment I can’t go into a lot of detail! I will say that once, I was assembling all of the wines prior to bottling while my father was out of town on a business trip. I was working on our Zinfandel barrels when a customer asked for me  in the tasting room. I left my assistant to continue emptying the Zinfandel barrels, assuming that he would read the labels on them. I may have been gone all of 3 minutes and when I returned,  I was met with an unpleasant surprise.  Lets just say that the Zinfandel that was suppose to be dry got a little late harvest Zinfandel added to it! The mistake completely threw off my assembly! Luckily, with my dad being out of town, I had a few days to work on the wine before his return, and my mom and I decided it would be best to not let him know until the wine was already bottled. However, all’s well that ends well- after we bottled the Zinfandel, he tried it, loved it and so did the customers. That wine ended up selling out in a matter of months!

4) What do you feel has been your greatest achievement as a winemaker?

As a young winemaker that is a tough question, especially because we do not submit our wines to competitions. However, my greatest achievement as a winemaker is knowing that I have gained the trust of our family to be in charge of our production, from harvest to bottling. That, for me, is greater than any medal or recognition in the industry.  It’s a very rewarding feeling knowing that my father and mother trust me to not only make the wine but to continue our tradition of producing premium wines and trying to take our small family winery to the next level.

5) Give one piece of advice to aspiring winemakers:

My advice to aspiring winemakers is to follow your instincts. The industry has several norms and everyone has an opinion on how and why you should do certain things, but as a winemaker you have to trust your palate and believe in yourself. Also, never stop learning, and keep yourself well informed on all aspects of the operation of the winery.
Share

Meet Your Winemaker: Jon McPherson, Master Winemaker at South Coast Winery, Resort & Spa

Friday, January 27th, 2012

We’re starting a new series here called “Meet Your Winemaker,” so you can get to know the folks behind the wines we all enjoy so much! Temecula Valley Wine Country is made up of so many fascinating, creative and talented people that we felt the need to give you an all-access pass into the stories behind the people behind the wine. So welcome to the inaugural “Meet Your Winemaker” post, highlighting veteran winemaker Jon McPherson of South Coast Winery, Resort & Spa.

Jon has been in the business most of his life, moving out to Southern California from his native Texas in 1985 and carrying on his family’s winemaking tradition. Read about his journey here:

Q: What inspired you to go into wine making? 

I could lie and say, “The moment I had a 1976 Johnson-Turnbull Cabernet.”  Or, “When I saw the harvest in Burgundy.”  Truth be told, as a small child, I was pressed into service by my father (founder and pioneer of the modern Texas wine industry ‘Doc’ McPherson), who had the grand idea that growing grapes in west Texas would be a great occupation/hobby/pursuit of happiness.  He purchased some land in early 1972 and started planting grapes in ’73 and ’74.  Since I was young, and certainly able, I found myself on the end of a post hole digger, shovel, hoe and any other manual labor implement used in the vineyard.

Weekends, summers, vacations, were all spent going to the vineyard with my dad.  As a kid, this was not the idea of a good time- for sure- but my father saw it as a way to keep me off the streets, off of drugs, and away from girls.  I missed a lot of cartoons, and general mischief that my friends all enjoyed, but this all seemed to work out pretty well, and by the late 70’s when my father decided to start Llano Estacado Winery I had enough experience running around grapes that I was drafted into service for a cellar hand.  I worked with several different winemakers that came through Llano in the 80’s, and I saw that the lifestyle and actual work that was part of the winemaker’s life was very much something that I wanted for myself.  Besides, it was a good time.  I grew up in the business, and by the time I was graduated from high school, I had figured out that this was what I wanted to do.

Q: Did you have a wine-making mentor, and if so, can you tell us a bit about him or her?

Certainly my father, who made wine at home in “experimental” batches.  He was a chemistry professor at Texas Tech University, and he was all about wine chemistry and what it took to make a good wine.  Other than that, there was the Australian Terry Belltrame, Joe Norman (formerly of Heitz Cellars)  Bill Ward (Vineyard manager of Chappellet in the 80’s, no longer with us) , Ron McClendon (retired from Allied Domeq), Greg Fowler (Shramsberg, Mumm Napa and Seagrams), Carol Shelton (has her own label of the same name) and Sam Balakian (ASV and SVP wineries) all had a part in what I know and believe to be true of the winemaking industry.  They all have their own story, but I worked with them at various stages and times and I learned what I could from their perspective.

Q: Have you had any “oops” moments during your early days of winemaking? If so, we’d love to hear the story!  

Many years ago (1988) on a rainy February day, I was working on some outdoor tanks and I was moving wine from tank to tank.  It was raining quite heavily, and my eye glasses were all covered in water and I couldn’t see clearly.  I needed a valve for what I was doing, so I grabbed the closest valve that was handy off of what I thought was an empty tank.  I was met with a stream of 35 degree wine, and besides being wet from the rain, I was now soaked with ice cold wine.  After the initial shock, I did manage to compose myself and get the valve back on the tank (a 12,000 gallon tank to boot) but I lost about 200 gallons of wine and swore never to work in the rain again.

On another note, I had an intern that worked for me one harvest (2001) that seemed to screw up everything she touched.  Her first screw up was when she pumped syrah over a cabernet fermentation.  I wanted to fire her.  No, I wanted to kill her. Then fire her. Instead, everyone convinced me that she would never make that mistake again, and would be all the more conscientious in future cellar work. I took the advice, and chilled out. After all, everyone deserves a second chance.  So we tell her not to turn on another pump without direct supervision. Sure enough, when she is suppose to only set up for a move of wine from tank to tank, she takes it upon herself to turn on the pump. She walks away from the pump and doesn’t tell anyone she has started the movement. Well, she forgot to close the racking valve on the tank she was pumping into.  When she returns she finds the wine streaming from the tank and over 1,000 gallons lost.  That sent me up the wall and her out the door.  She resigned on the spot, and I never heard from her again. I don’t think she stayed in the business.

Q: What do you feel has been your greatest achievement as a winemaker?

Bagging not one, but two Golden Bear Awards (an honor presented to the winery that wins the most medals and awards at the California State Fair’s prestigious wine competition). Oh, and back in the day I was the most award winning sparkling winemaker in the country, for four or five years.

Q: Give one piece of advice to aspiring winemakers.

Always be passionate about making wine. Just don’t fall in love with it.  The minute that you fall in love with it you lose all objectiveness and the ability to approach wine in an analytical manner.

Share
View Our Winery Map