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Welcome to our Newest Winery Members!

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

We’d like to give a warm, Temecula Valley Wine Country welcome to our newest winery members!

Akash Winery & Vineyard ~ This gorgeous 20 acre vineyard is located in the heart of Temecula Wine Country, California. Akash Winery & Vineyard currently has 15 acres of your favorite varietals planted which include Zinfandel, Petite Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon & Sauvignon Blanc. Also just planted mid 2018 was Cabernet Franc. We can be contacted via email for any questions info@akashwinery.com or via phone 951 888 1393. Or, you can make a reservation for tasting via Yelp Reservations.

Churon Vineyard Inn Winery ~ Under new ownership, this
Chateau and Winery, features a stately 40-foot high Grand Lobby Rotunda, perched atop 11 acres of estate vineyards, a wine tasting bar where you can experience award-winning estate wines and a newly remodeled bed and breakfast.

Somerset Vineyard & Winery ~ Somerset Vineyard & Winery, located on the property formerly known as Keyways, is a wine lover’s first stop along Temecula Valley’s De Portola Trail. The vineyard is rooted on 13 acres that bear fruit from the Rhône varietals such as Viognier, Roussanne, Grenache, and Syrah as well as the Spanish Macabeo, Monastrell and Tempranillo.

When planning your next trip to Temecula Valley Wine Country, be sure to add these newest wineries to your “must visit” list and welcome them to wine country!

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WINE COUNTRY RECIPE ~ CHICKEN-CHIPOTLE POSOLE WITH AVOCADO AND LIME

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

There’s nothing better on a cold winter day than a big bowl of hearty soup! A rich broth, moist hand-shredded chicken and smoky chipotle make this posole a standout. And you’ll have some extra poached chicken to enjoy in a salad the following day. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Barbera or Zinfandel.

Serves 4

Ingredients
2 pounds (1 kg) chicken legs and thighs
2 quarts (2 l) water
1 large onion, halved and sliced
1 dozen black peppercorns
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smacked
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole cumin seed or ground cumin
1/3 pound (155 g) Mexican-style chorizo
Vegetable oil
1 small onion, minced
½ green bell pepper, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large plum tomato, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup (10 g) chopped cilantro, plus some for garnish
1 can (15 oz/470 g) whole hominy, drained and rinsed
Canned chipotle chile en adobo, to taste
Kosher or sea salt.
1 small avocado, halved and pitted, then sliced crosswise
1 lime, quartered

Directions
Put the chicken and water in a large pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Skim any foam that collects on the surface. When the chicken stops producing foam, add the onion, peppercorns, garlic, and bay leaves. Adjust the heat to maintain a bare simmer and cook 1 hour. Cool, then strain. Remove the chicken meat from the bones, discarding the skin. Refrigerate half the meat for another use. Shred the remaining meat by hand. Set aside 5 cups (1.25 l) of chicken broth and refrigerate or freeze any remaining broth for another use.

Put the whole cumin seed in a small dry skillet and toast over medium heat, shaking the skillet often, until the cumin darkens and becomes fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Cool, then pound fine in a mortar or grind in a spice grinder.

Remove the chorizo from its skin and put it in a large pot over medium-low heat. Cook, crumbling it with a wooden spoon, until it has rendered its fat and is fully cooked. Transfer it to a plate with a slotted spoon, leaving any fat behind. Add enough vegetable oil to the pot to make 2 tablespoons fat.

Add the minced onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook until softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the tomato, oregano, and cumin and cook about 3 minutes longer to soften the tomato. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add the 5 cups (1.25 l) chicken broth and bring to a simmer, stirring. Add the cilantro, hominy, shredded chicken, and chorizo and return to a simmer. Whisk in some of the thick adobo sauce from the canned chipotle chiles, adding as much as you like. Season posole to taste with salt.

Divide the soup among 4 bowls. Top each portion with a few avocado slices and garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve immediately with lime wedges.

Suggested Pairings:

Doffo Winery ~ 2016 Zinfandel – 2018 People’s Choice Winner – This always popular Zinfandel is sure to delight the senses with aromas of plum, raspberry, figs, and cherries. The balanced acidity and voluminous mouthfeel leave a long lasting finish

Europa Village ~ Private Reserve Barbera 2014 -Complex nose of ripe wild plums, figs, dried herbs, and bourbon; the mouthfeel is fleshy and powerful, but nicely balanced with proper acidity.

Hart Winery ~ 2015 Barbera – Aged in fine American oak barrels, this Barbera displays typical varietal high acidity with a significant dollop of American oak on the finish.

Wiens Family Cellars ~ 2015 Reserve Zinfandel – Dried Fruit, Toasted Oak, Refined Tannins

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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January Winery Events

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

It’s the start of another new year and if you haven’t visited Temecula Valley Wine Country lately, now’s the time! Check out January’s calendar of events and make plans to visit us soon!

Avensole Winery
Hosted Tour & Wine Tasting /Available on Sunday of each the month / 2pm-3:30pm / For every adventure, there is discovery, for every unique place, there is a story. Take a guided journey through our lush vineyards and experience our rich heritage and handcrafted Avensole wines / Cost. $35 / Reservations required. Please call 951.252.2003 x312 to reserve.

Gourmet Cheese Artisanal Tour & Wine Tasting / Available on Friday of each month / 12pm / For the ultimate Wine Country experience, delight in an educational tour through our picturesque vineyard vistas and conclude this tour with a culinary treat of artisanal wine pairings featuring 7 Avensole wines / Cost: $75 / Reservations required online at link: http://www.avensolewinery.com/res-369934

Baily Winery
Estate Library Tasting / Every Thursday-Sunday / Available 11am-4pm / Enjoy exclusive library tasting of 5 different vintages (varietal will vary monthly). Tasting will take place at Baily Estate Tasting Room located on Pauba Road / Tours are available upon request / For reservations and pricing information please call Lisa at 951-972-9768

Callaway Vineyard & Winery
Prix Fixe Friday & Sunday at Meritage / 5pm to 8pm / For $35 guests may enjoy a starter, an entrée and a dessert / Live Music offered on Friday nights Reservation is not necessary. For menu information call 951.587.8889

Brunch Specials every Sunday at Meritage / 11am / Cost is $25 / Includes a mimosa with fresh squeezed orange juice, entrée and dessert. All food from Meritage is farm-to-table, either grown on property in restaurant garden or locally outsourced.

Callaway Winery Tours offered daily / 11am and 1pm / Tour only, $10 per person. Tour with tasting, $25 – tour includes 1 tank sample, 1-barrel sample and 4 additional tastes at the Tasting Bar / Reservations not necessary, but for 10 or more highly recommended / For more information call 951.676.4001

Carter Estate Winery and Resort
Elegant Food & Wine Pairing / $45pp; $40pp Wine Club Member / 1pm & 3pm Monday-Sunday / Reserve your place for an indulgent wine and food pairing designed to tantalize the senses. Guests enjoy five specially selected Carter Estate Winery wines paired perfectly with a variety of cured meats, artisan cheeses and accompanied with seasonal accouterments. Each pairing lasts approximately 90 minutes and is limited to just eight participants to allow for one-on-one interaction / Reservations recommended – Book a pairing on CarterEstateWinery.com

Cougar Vineyard & Winery
4th Annual Cougar Meets Italy, Movie and Wine-Judging event / January 16-17 / $10 per person / 6pm-8pm / This event will sell out!! The winery and guests will preview the “Bottle Shock” movie in the Barrel Room and then, Thursday, everyone will relive it! / Includes a glass of Cougar wine and all the popcorn you can eat. Combine with the Main Event and save!

The Main Event – Wine Judging / January 17 / 6pm-9pm / $75 Wine club, $80 Non-wine club, combine both nights for a $5 savings (price increase January 1st) / Professional, double-blind wine judging comparing Cougar wines with their Italian counterparts using the UC Davis 20-point scale / Audience wine tasting and judging with the same wines / Announcement of the wine judging results and Peoples’ Choices for each varietal / Includes four-course dinner, Cougar logo wine glass to commemorate the Event and musical accompaniment by Don Brennan / To reserve your tickets please visit www.cougarvineyards.com

Europa Village
Cooking Class – Italian / January 13 / 12pm & 2pm / Tickets: $58; Société Members $52.20 / Embark on a culinary adventure to the Campania region of Italy, led by Executive Chef and Certified Culinary Educator Dean Thomas. Discover what historical influences shaped the culture and cuisine of this region while savoring a three-course wine paired lunch / For reservations please visit www.europavillage.com and click on events.

Wine Education Class / January 20 / 12pm / Tickets: $39; Société Members $35.10 / Let Europa’s Sommelier, Dr. Doug Garman take you on a journey through Italy, sampling Europa’s Vienza Italian wines, and savor samples of fine food pairings prepared by Executive Chef Dean Thomas / For reservations please visit www.europavillage.com and click on events.

Falkner Winery
Wine Appreciation Class / January 19 / 10am -12:30pm / Designated for all levels of wine knowledge; $45/person /$40 Connoisseur/ $20 VIP; $70/person with lunch option. RSVP’s required 951-676-8231 x.109 or wineclub@falknerwinery.com

Lorimar Vineyard & Winery
Sunday Brunch Buffet / Every Sunday 11am –3 pm / $35 Adult / $31.50 WC / $15 (Ages 4-12) / Brunch includes one mimosa or glass of beer for ages 21+ / To Make a Reservation – https://shop.lorimarwinery.com/res-408083/Sunday-Brunch.html

Laugh Your Glass Off / January 31 / 7pm / $20/$18 Wine Club Members / Pairings Food Truck opens at 6:00pm / Join us for a night of laughter and wine – featuring 3 talented Comedians! / Purchase tickets online at https://shop.lorimarwinery.com/res-408948/Laugh-Your-Glass-Off.html / For mature audience only; must be 21+

Monte De Oro Winery
Syrah Blind Tasting / January 26 / 6pm-8pm / $60 / Join us for a celebration of one of California’s most popular varietal: Zinfandel. We will be sampling over ten different offerings from various California wineries, including Temecula, Napa Valley, Sonoma, Paso Robles, etc. / Epicurean appetizer, cheese and dessert pairings will accompany your tasting as well! / For reservation please visit www.montedeoro.com.

Peltzer Family Cellars

Peltzer Ice Rink / Open daily now through January 6th / 3pm-9pm / Ice Rink Bar Open Friday through Sunday 4-8:40pm / The farm is freezing over, y’all! For the first time ever Peltzer Farms will be featuring a full on Ice Rink! Ice Rink will be closed if it’s raining, for safety reasons. Ice Rink may be closed on specific dates based on private events / Admission (includes a pair of skates) General Admission $15; Kids 5 and under (with paid general admission) $11; Crush Club (wine club) members get $2 off admission prices. Admission (if you bring your own skates) General Admission $13; Kids 5 and under (with paid general admission) $9 / For additional information please visit www.peltzerwinery.com

Dueling Pianos / January 24 / 6pm-10pm / Cost: $35 / Join us in the Crush House for a dueling piano show with The Killer Dueling Pianos. You won’t want to miss out on this night of fun! Get your tix while you can! / Tickets include a complimentary glass of our Signature Drink! Crush Club Members will receive 10% off tickets and 20% off wine Q’s Tacos food truck will be here at 6:00 so you can grab a bite and a drink before the show starts at 7:00! / This is a 21+ only event. For reservations please visit www.peltzerwinery.com

Ponte Winery
Happy Hour in The Cellar Lounge at Ponte Vineyard Inn / Every Monday-Thursday / 4pm-6pm / Free to attend / Head to Temecula Wine Country’s only cocktail bar, The Cellar Lounge at Ponte Vineyard Inn, for happy hour specials on craft beer, flatbreads, Ponte wine on tap and more! Menu items $6 and up / For more information please visit www.pontevineyardinn.com

Brunch at Bouquet Restaurant / Every Saturday & Sunday / 7:30am-3:00pm / Offering indoor & outdoor seating options, Bouquet is the perfect spot to gather for a gourmet brunch. Enjoy a relaxing ambiance with stunning fountain courtyard, pond & vineyards views / To view menu and for reservations please visit www.pontevineyardinn.com.

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa
Harmonizing Hatha at the Grapeseed Spa / Every Mondays & Wednesdays / 9:00am – 10:00am This unique class enables you to find balance of body and mind. With gentle stretching, focused breathing and meditation, your instructor will take you on a journey through your personal chakras resulting in a mind and body that are more fluid and at ease / 4 people or more | $35 per person, 3 people or less | $65 per person / Spa Members | $16 per person / Reservation Information: Call 877.552.1731 to book your class.

Behind the Scenes Wine Tours / Tours are held daily at 11 AM, 1 PM and 3PM, Monday through Sunday/ $45pp; $40pp Wine Club Member or Military / Learn more about our spectacular Southern California Temecula winery with a behind-the-scenes wine tour, from vineyards to crush pad. Each tour concludes with 5 wines paired with an individual plate of specially prepared lite-bite foods, designed to enhance your wine knowledge and experience / Reservation Information: Call 866-994-6379 Ext. 7217 to reserve your spot today / Due to the limited sizes of each tour, reservations are required with prepayment, and are non-refundable. Guests must be over 21 years of age to attend.

Wilson Creek Winery
Bubble Brunch Buffet / Every Sunday 10am-3pm / $51.95, Buffet only: $41.95, Children: $16.95 / Enjoy all your breakfast favorites, omelet stations, waffle stations, seafood stations, carving stations and dessert stations with beautiful vineyard views / Buffet (+ unlimited sparkling). Now serving Bloody Mary’s! / Reservations can be made at www.wilsoncreekwinery.com or call 951.699.9463 for additional information.

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Fun Facts About Merlot

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

Considered one of the most food-friendly and approachable wines on the planet, Merlot surged to popularity in the United States in the 1990s. Now wine-lovers can find great Merlot and delicious Merlot blends from all over the world – from South America to France to Italy to right here in Temecula Valley, California.

Here are five fun facts about Merlot!*

1) Did you know the word “merlot” translates to “young blackbird” in French? The name was thought to have been given either because of the grape’s beautiful blue-black color, or blackbird’s fondness for grapes.

2) Merlot’s flavor profile fluctuates within the sweetness spectrum. Cooler climates bring out hints of berries, plum, and even tobacco. Merlot grown in hotter climates might mimic flavors found in fruitcake or chocolate.

3) A bit about Merlot blends: When Merlot first arrived in California, it mostly sold as single varietal bottlings (100% Merlot) until winemakers began blending it with other red grapes in the French Bordeaux tradition. Now, California’s Meritage wines are a signature of the state and always include Merlot as one of the essential blending grapes.

4) Merlot is so popular because of the grape’s ability to please all palates. Wines can range from very fruity simple wines to more serious, barrel-aged bottles.

5) Merlot has a high sugar content and low acidity, which makes it a very food-friendly wine, able to be paired with a variety of dishes. For example, Cabernet-like Merlots pair well with grilled meats. Softer, fruitier Merlots go well with salmon, mushroom-based dishes and greens. Light-bodied Merlots pair well with shellfish like prawns or scallops, especially if wrapped in bacon or prosciutto.

Looking for a great bottle of Temecula Valley Merlot? Check these wines out!

Falkner Winery 2015 Merlot ~ This wonderful Merlot is deep in color and abundant in flavor. Enjoy the dark cherry, blueberry, and herbaceous notes with an elegant and smooth finish. 

Leoness Cellars 2012 Vineyard Selection Merlot ~ Concentrated layers of black currant and black cherry complemented by earthy aromas typical of this vineyard. Subtle nuances of tobacco and vanilla develop through a long, velvety finish. 

Mount Palomar Winery 2012 BOV (Best of Vintage) Merlot ~ The scents are of Cherry, plum, and cola. The tastes are of sour cherry, lavender, and dark chocolate, with a touch of black pepper.

*Sourced from Snooth/Wikipedia 

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Wine Country Recipe ~ Dungeness Crab Frittata

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

Slice this frittata into thin wedges for a passed hors d’oeuvre or serve more generous portions with a tuft of salad as a first course. To dress it up for the holidays, top wedges with a dollop of crème fraîche and California sturgeon caviar. Serve with your favorite Temecula Valley Chardonnay or Sparkling Wine.

Serves 6

Ingredients
½ pound (250 g) fingerling potatoes
1-1/2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Kosher or sea salt
6 large eggs
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh chives
¼ pound fresh Dungeness crabmeat

Directions
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Put the potatoes in a baking dish just large enough to hold them. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil, season with salt, and turn to coat with the oil and salt. Bake until tender when pierced, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool, then slice into ½-inch (12 mm) pieces. Reduce the oven temperature to 400°F (200°C).

In a bowl, whisk the eggs with ½ teaspoon salt, several grinds of pepper, and the dill and chives. Stir in the crabmeat and potatoes, reserving a few larger pieces of crab for placing on the surface of the frittata later.

Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the remaining 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil. When it is hot, add the egg mixture and use a rubber spatula to distribute the crab and potato evenly. Cook without stirring for about 2 minutes, until the eggs begin to set, then place the reserved chunks of crabmeat on top. Continue cooking without stirring until the frittata is about two-thirds set, with some patches of liquid egg on the surface. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the surface is firm to the touch, about 6 minutes longer.

Remove from the oven and slide the frittata onto a cutting board. Let rest at least 15 minutes. Garnish with chopped dill, then slice into wedges and serve. The frittata is best warm, not hot.

Suggested Pairings: 

Callaway Vineyard & Winery ~ 2016 Winemaker’s Reserve Chardonnay
Flavors of green apple, tropical fruit and hints of honeysuckle. Floral scents and an oaky finish will leave you longing for more. 

Oak Mountain 2017 Chardonnay ~ This chardonnay is lightly oaked with French oak imparting rich flavors of vanilla, butterscotch, creme brulee and caramel.

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa Brut Sparkling ~ Crisp acidity and delicate yeastiness are enveloped in a rich tropical fruit aroma. A perfect change of pace!

Wilson Creek Winery Brut Sparkling Wine ~ Light and refreshing, and very fun. Great in Mimosas! A fun party sparkling wine.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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In Memoriam ~ Ben Drake

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

We were deeply saddened to hear that our dear friend and colleague, Ben Drake passed away on November 7, 2018 after a courageous two year battle with cancer.

Ben was a fifth generation farmer in Riverside County and a resident of Temecula since 1973. Ben founded Drake Enterprises, Inc., a farm management company 40 years ago. They currently manage 750 acres of avocados and 450 acres of winegrapes in the Temecula Valley.

Ben accomplished much in his professional career including being a long-time Board member and President of the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association, President of the Rancho California Water District Board of Directors, Past Chairman of California Association of Winegrape Growers and Past President of Riverside County Farm Bureau just to name a few.

“It’s hard to know where to start when talking about Ben’s contributions to the success of Temecula Valley Wine Country,” said Krista Chaich, Executive Director of the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association. “He was a tremendous leader and an ardent supporter of our wine region. Most notably, his leadership and guidance were never more apparent than when our winegrape growers were faced with the devastating loss of vineyards due to Pierce’s Disease, a bacterial infection that nearly wiped out our wine country. Ben called upon the State of California to assist in the fight against Pierce’s Disease through significant funding and helped to set up task forces and treatment and research programs. Many of us believe that had it not been for Ben’s efforts, our wine country wouldn’t be the thriving and award-winning wine region that it is today.”

“Ben served on our Board of Directors for several years and as the Board President from 2014 through 2016. During this time, he fiercely protected both our winery owners and wine grape growers and consistently put the best interests of our entire wine region first. It’s hard to imagine a world without Ben Drake. We’ll not soon forget his big, infectious laugh and his endearing gruffness. His loss will be felt for many years to come.”

Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association Board President, Danny Martin said “This valley owes him a lot. Everyone respected Ben Drake. He was opinionated but principled and everyone respected that about him. But more than that, Ben was just a wonderful person and he will be greatly missed.”

Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards Chief Executive Officer Bill Wilson admired Drake’s commitment to quality wines in Temecula.

“His tenacity and passion to encourage, if not demand, that everyone in the Temecula Valley do whatever it takes to grow the best wine grapes possible and make world-class wines from them,” Wilson said. “His legacy to that end will live on and within the next generation of winegrowers for many years to come!”

Ben is survived by Sharon, his wife of 43 years, four children and five grandchildren.

The California Association of Winegrape Growers has set up a scholarship in Ben’s name. Contributions can be made to: CAWG Foundation, 1121 L Street, Ste 304, Sacramento, CA 95814. Please indicate that the contribution is for the Ben Drake Scholarship Fund.

Read Ben’s full obituary here

 

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Focaccia Bread Pudding with Wild Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

 

Focaccia Bread Pudding with Wild Mushrooms and Goat CheeseThis savory, custardy bread pudding makes an irresistible side dish for roast chicken, but it may well become a new tradition at your Thanksgiving table. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Pinot Noir or Chardonnay.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ pound (250 g) wild mushrooms such as crimini or oyster, sliced or quartered
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ large yellow onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoons dried herbes de Provence
½ pound (250 g) focaccia, 1 to 2 days old, in 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes
¼ pound (125 g) fresh goat cheese with no rind
4 large eggs, beaten
2 cups (16 fl oz/500 ml) whole milk

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C). Using 1 teaspoon butter, grease the bottom and sides of a 2-quart (2-l) baking dish. An oval baking dish measuring about 13- by 8- by 1-1/2-inches (33 by 20 by 4 cm) works well.

Heat 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms. Do not stir for 30 seconds to allow the mushrooms to sear on one side. Then season with salt and pepper and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are nicely browned and tender, about 3 minutes, adjusting the heat if necessary to prevent scorching. Set aside on a plate.

Let the skillet cool slightly, then add the remaining 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil and return to medium-low heat. Add the onion, garlic, and herbes de Provence. Sauté until the onion is soft, 5 to 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the focaccia, mushrooms, and sautéed onions and garlic. Add the goat cheese in small clumps. Toss gently with a spatula.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, 1 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Pour over the bread mixture and stir gently with a rubber spatula. Let stand for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice, so the bread absorbs some of the liquid.

Transfer to the prepared baking dish and dot the surface with the remaining 1 teaspoon butter. Bake until puffed, nicely colored on top, and firm to the touch, about 35 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.

Suggested Pairings: 

Danza Del Sol Winery 2016 Reserve Chardonnay ~ Aromas of apple and pear with accompanying flavors of tropical pineapple and guava.

Oak Mountain Winery 2017 Chardonnay ~ This chardonnay is lightly oaked with French oak imparting rich flavors of vanilla, butterscotch, creme brulee and caramel.

Wiens Family Cellars 2015 Reserve Pinot Noir ~ Flavors of toasted oak, ripe raspberry, and cinnamon.

 

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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Now I Know My ABCs… of Temecula Valley Wine Grapes ~ An A-Z of What Shines in Southern California Wine Country

Friday, October 19th, 2018

New Zealand and Sauvignon Blanc. Oregon and Pinot Noir. Napa and Cabernet Sauvignon. Argentina and Malbec. Like bread and butter, all famous wine regions seem to have a famous grape counterpart.

In Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country, there’s often a hearty debate about what grape the region should be known for. Its Syrahs have received countless awards. But Temecula Valley Sangiovese is top-scoring as well. And what about the luscious, beautifully floral Viognier that so many wineries are famous for? Or the bright, savory sleeper of the Valley, Cabernet Franc?

This isn’t because Temecula Valley winemakers can’t make up their minds! This diversity is a result of a Mediterranean climate that is well-suited to grow a wide range of grapes, and, more importantly, a culture among winemakers to experiment with new grape varieties.

Visitors to the region delight in the immense diversity of offerings, as there truly is something for every type of wine enthusiast. From Arneis to Zinfandel and everything in between, let’s take a look at some of the key grape players that have put Temecula Valley on the global wine map.

Arneis – A little-known grape from Northern Italy, Arneis also shines in Temecula Valley. Here, it expresses itself with notes of peach, apricot and almond, with floral notes and bright acidity. Check out Arneis from Hart Family Winery.

Barbera – A versatile, food-friendly grape from Northern Italy as well, this variety shows amazing promise in Temecula Valley. Southern California Barbera offers rich fruit and wonderful structure. Try Barbera from Europa Village.

Cabernet Franc – This grape is normally a blending variety in Bordeaux, but we are seeing it more and more as a single varietal, especially in Temecula. Baily Winery does an impressive vertical tasting of 6-8 vintages of Temecula Valley Cabernet Franc, showing the strength and longevity of this variety.

Falanghina – This ancient variety from Campania in Southern Italy is simply magical in the hands of Cougar Winery.

Grenache – Often found in blends from France’s Rhone Valley, or throughout Spain, where it is known as Garnacha, Temecula Valley winemakers play with this grape often, either on its own or in blends. Check out Temecula’s 50th Anniversary Commemorative Wine – a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre.

Mourvedre – Again, often a blending grape, this variety shows great promise on its own in Temecula  Valley, boasting notes of cooked fruit and spice and impressive body. Visit Wiens Family Cellars for a taste.

Montepulciano – Another Italian variety that just sings in Temecula Valley, bursting with fruit, sweet spice and delightful acidity. Robert Renzoni Vineyards’ Winemaker, Olivia Bue, has brought out the best in this grape.

Petite Sirah – This grape – known for its intense color, and bold flavors of black fruits, chocolate and spice – may have originated in France, but it was born to be grown in Temecula Valley. Wilson Creek makes a particularly noteworthy bottling, which also won the 2016 People’s Choice award.

Pinot Grigio/Gris – Very few wine regions in the world don’t grow at least some Pinot Grigio, and there is a wide range of different styles of this wine, from light and fruity to complex and age worthy. In Temecula, the wines are fuller in body, with crisp acidity and ripe fruit notes.  For a real treat, and a fun alternative to your everyday Prosecco, try South Coast Winery’s sparkling Pinot Grigio.

Roussanne – This Rhone Valley Grape, often blended with Marsanne and Viognier, can be quite interesting on its own if handled properly. Sip on Oak Mountain’s Temecula Hills Roussanne for a taste of this variety.

Sangiovese – One of Italy’s signature grapes, Sangiovese could very well have been born in Temecula Valley. Most winemakers in the region bottle this versatile variety, in a wide range of styles. Be sure to visit Robert Renzoni Vineyards for a spectacular lineup.

Syrah – Another grape that is emerging as a king of Southern California wine country is Syrah and the climate in Temecula Valley is perfect for it. Try any of Leoness Cellars’ offerings to get a sense of the true potential of this variety.

Tempranillo – This Spanish variety does very well in Temecula Valley, both blended and on its own. Try one from Danza del Sol Winery.

Viognier – A full-bodied, perfumed variety from Southern France, Viognier is widely found in Temecula Valley, where it finds powerful expression. Doffo Winery’s Concrete-Fermented Viognier is a must when exploring this variety.

Zinfandel – While this grape originated in Croatia, many think of it as the quintessential American variety. In Temecula Valley, it is rich and juicy but the region’s winemakers have shown some restraint in crafting it, preserving bright acidity and structure in most bottlings. Van Roekel Estate’s Zinfandel from some of the region’s oldest vineyards is a stunning example.

Call us selfish but with so many delicious grape varieties to choose from in Temecula Valley, why should anyone have to choose just one?

To find out more about these and other wineries in Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country, visit www.temeculawines.org.

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Mid-Week Wine Tasting Passport

Tuesday, July 24th, 2018

For many, summer vacation is quickly coming to an end. But, how about squeezing in one more little get-a-way before the dog days of summer are over?

Whether you can get away overnight, or just want to take a day trip, a mid-week visit to Temecula Valley Wine Country should prove to be a relaxing and enjoyable break.

There are many advantages to visiting wine country during the week. Much less busy weekdays are the perfect opportunity to allow yourself time to enjoy our 30+ member wineries’ offerings. At a slower pace, you’ll be able to enjoy more one-on-one time with the knowledgeable wine servers (or even the winemakers and/or winery owners themselves if you’re lucky) at each of your stops.

In addition, the tasting prices tend to be lower during the week than on the weekends and some wineries even offer two-for-one wine tasting coupons and additional discounts if you’re tasting during the week. And, if we haven’t convinced you yet….there’s no waiting in line to dine at our wonderful wine country restaurants that are very busy on the weekends. If you’d like to spend the night you’ll be pleased with the selection of hotels and their reduced mid-week rates. Hotels in the area are generally booked months in advance on the weekends.

If you plan to visit mid-week, check out the SIP Passport.  This passport allows you to visit any five wineries of your choice for $45. Click here to purchase your passport.

While we’d love to see you at any time here in Temecula Valley Wine Country, give us a try on a Wednesday sometime….we think you’ll be glad you did!

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Grilled Hoisin Hanger Steak with Cool Sesame Scallion Noodles

Tuesday, July 24th, 2018

Hanger steak, sometimes known as the “butcher’s cut,” is exceptionally tender and beefy. If you can’t find it, flank steak or the super-thin skirt steak make good alternatives. The sesame-scented noodles can be prepared hours ahead apart from the finishing touches. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Marinade:
¼ cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
2 whole hanger steaks or 1-1/2 pounds (750 g) flank steak or skirt steak

Sesame Scallion Noodles:
2-1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese chili oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 large clove garlic, very finely minced
1-1/4 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
½ pound (250 g) fresh Chinese egg noodles
1 tablespoon sesame seed
1/3 cup (30 g) thinly sliced scallions (about 6), white and pale green part and a little of the green
1/3 cup (10 g) coarsely chopped cilantro
¼ cup (40 g) chopped roasted peanuts

Directions:

Whisk the marinade ingredients together in a small bowl. Put the meat in a non-reactive container, add the marinade and turn to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 12 hours. Bring to room temperature before grilling.

Prepare the sesame scallion noodles: In a large bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, soy sauce, chili oil, balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, sugar, garlic, and salt.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the noodles and boil until just tender. (Check package directions for recommended cooking time.) Drain in a sieve and immediately rinse under cold running water. Drain again well, then add to the large bowl. Toss gently with your hands to coat the noodles evenly with the dressing. Let rest at room temperature for 1 hour to absorb the dressing, tossing occasionally.

Toast the sesame seed in a small dry skillet over medium heat until lightly colored and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Let cool.

Prepare a hot charcoal fire. Grill the meat over direct heat, turning as needed to brown nicely without charring. Hanger, flank, and skirt steak are best when cooked rare or medium-rare; for medium-rare, figure about 10 minutes for hanger or flank steak, about 7 minutes for skirt steak. Let meat rest 5 minutes to allow juices to settle, then slice against the grain.

Just before serving, add the sesame seed, scallion, cilantro, and peanuts to the noodles and toss gently. Taste for salt, then divide meat and noodles among individual dinner plates or serve family style.

Suggested pairings:

Baily Winery ~ 2014 Cabernet Franc

Carter Estate Winery ~ 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

Frangipani Estate Winery ~ 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

Oak Mountain Winery ~ 2014 Cabernet Franc

 

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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