Archive for the ‘Winery News’ Category

It’s Squeezin’ Season! ~ A Harvest Update

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

It’s our favorite time of the year!  Here’s an article originally published in Wines & Vines that gives a great overview of harvest in Temecula Valley this year.

Temecula, Calif. – Despite a heat wave and unusual rains, the vintners and growers of Southern California’s Temecula Valley are generally pleased with the quality of fruit coming in this harvest season.

At South Coast Winery, Winemaker Jon McPherson oversees 56,000 annual case production of primarily Rhone and Spanish varietal wines, all estate-grown. The winery accounts for a large portion of Temecula’s 1,300 acres planted to wine grapes.

“It was great, early on,” McPherson said of summer temperatures, which remained in the 70s and 80s during the day and 50s and 60s at night, even as his team picked Pinot Noir for sparkling wine on July 17. “Then, that last week of August, we had the crazy heat that the rest of the state experienced, followed by a lot of monsoonal influence from northern Mexico and Arizona, with moisture fed by the hurricane off of Baja.”

Those conditions led to late-afternoon rains for two days, he said, with as many as 2” of rain falling in parts of the valley. “Most of our varieties hanging at the time were Bordelais, so they weren’t too badly affected,” he said. “We did have Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc out there, and we saw some rot issues start to manifest as we got into picking, but it dried up pretty quickly. Mostly, the heat just sped everything up. For those ten days, we were trying to get everything as quickly as we could.”

Varieties yet to be picked at South Coast Winery included Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and some Portuguese varieties, comprising 140 tons, with vineyard samples coming in at 23.5° or 24° Brix. “We’ll be wrapping up in the next ten days,” McPherson said.

At Hart Winery, winemaker Jim Hart estimated his team had brought in two-thirds of their fruit – about 60 tons. The winery produces around 4,000 cases per year. With the exception of Roussanne, all of Hart’s white varieties had been picked, including Sauvignon Blanc and Arneis; as well as a number of red varieties, including Sangiovese, Syrah, and Barbera. Like McPherson, Hart let his Bordeaux varieties — Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Sirah — continue to hang.

“We have ten acres and grow about 40% of what we make,” said Hart, whose family produces around 3,500 cases annually and is the longest-standing winery in the valley at 40 years old. “The rest we purchase, but it’s all Temecula Valley fruit.” He went on to describe the large scale of the Temecula Valley AVA at 33,000 acres, 1,300 of which are planted to vines in subregions that range from valley floor to mountains, desert to coastal-influenced conditions, and include a wide variety of soils like decomposed granite and volcanic.

Temecula is part of the four-county District 16 grape growing region, which accounted for 4,190 tons in 2016, according to the state’s Grape Crush Report.

In an effort to boost quality and identify the emerging region’s style and strengths, many winemakers commit to using only Temecula Valley fruit. But that commitment was put to the test in 2016 when heat and drought drastically reduced yields, by as much as 30% for some producers.

“We had a horrendous heat wave mid-June last year, right after a lot of us leaf-pulled” said Olivia Bue, who joined Robert Renzoni Vineyards as winemaker in 2013. “It got up to 115 degrees, so a lot of our grapes shut down and shriveled because there was way too much exposure. We also had minimal rain, as every region dealt with. We lost quite a bit of our yield; it was devastating for vineyard and winery owners.”

For the 2017 crop, however, Bue reports a significant increase in rain, which washed away much of the ground salts and brought pH into greater balance. “Harvest is really back to normal for what it was four years ago,” she said. “We’re seeing more varietal characteristics represented in the flavors of the grapes just because they’re staying on the vine longer and with slower maturation.”

With a focus on Italian varietal wines, Robert Renzoni Vineyards produces 18,000 cases annually, with a focus on lean, lower-alcohol wines to preserve acids. From the estate, Bue and her team make Sangiovese, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon and Barbera, in addition to Montepulciano sourced from the Temecula Valley which, Bue said, “grows incredibly well here.”

This year’s Sangiovese, she said, was picked two weeks later than last year’s crop, and is currently undergoing malolactic fermentation in barrel right now; the brand’s two Pinot Grigio wines came in at around 23° Brix and are already fermented, one of which is being stirred on its lees for creaminess and minerality while the other will be kept crisp, clean and bright. Cabernet Sauvignon is still hanging at about 24° Brix, as are Cabernet Franc and Tempranillo; Bue plans to pick most of the remaining fruit next week.

She recalled how, in 2014, the Pinot Grigio was ready to be picked by July 14, nearly four weeks ahead of schedule. “We’re definitely looking forward to lower pH, better acids and higher yields this year.”

Read more at:
Copyright © Wines & Vines

Photo courtesy of  Matthew Burlile 


#TemeculaWineChallenge Contest: Experience Southern California Wine Country to Win!

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

Mid-week is the best time to taste Temecula Valley wines, as your chances of getting a behind the scenes tour, meeting a winemaker, or snagging a barrel sample run high – you just have to ask! This California Wine Month, take your wine knowledge to the next level. From September 1-30, we invite you to explore Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country like a true wine photojournalist…and win a cool prize or two while you’re at it.

How it works:

Step 1: Pick your wine milestone from the list of 10 different challenges below.
Step 2: Take a pic. Make sure we can see the full experience.
Step 3: Post and tag. Post on Instagram & tag @temeculawines, #temeculawinechallenge #tastemidweek & #drinktemecula. Don’t forget to check in at the winery!

Here’s what we’re giving away:

Each week, we will give away (2) SIP Temecula Passports, good for 5 wine tasting flights at participating Temecula Valley wineries, Monday through Friday.

At the end of the contest, we will announce one grand prize winner from the month, who will receive (2) Reserve tickets to the People’s Choice Blind Tasting and Awards event on November 12, 2017.  This prize package includes a walk-around blind wine tasting and seat at the People’s Choice awards dinner including a 5-course tasting menu and wine pairings.

Don’t Forget: You can capture as many wine milestones as you like to up your chances of winning!

Instagram account must be public for your entry to be considered.

View full terms and conditions here: Terms and Conditions

Happy sipping!

Wine Challenges:
1. Take a selfie with a Temecula Valley winemaker
2. Taste a Temecula Valley wine made from a French grape
3. Convince tasting room staff to let you try a Temecula Valley barrel or tank sample
4. Taste a Temecula Valley Sangiovese
5. Document a delicious Temecula Valley food and wine pairing at one of our many wine country restaurants
6. Taste a Temecula Valley Syrah
7. Take a photo of wine grapes on the vine
8. Take a photo with tasting room staff
9. Taste a DRY (not sweet!) Temecula Valley sparkling wine (bonus if it’s made with the Methode Champenoise!)
10. Take a photo with one of the many vineyard dogs out in Temecula Valley wine country


California Wine Month ~ Temecula Style!

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

This September marks the 13th consecutive year that California’s governor has proclaimed California Wine Month; in honor of our state’s contribution as the leading wine industry in the United States.

September is the perfect time to visit Temecula Valley Wine Country. Besides the fact that it is our favorite month, we’ve got several events and promotions up our sleeves and we want you to celebrate with us!

Here are the highlights:

SIP Passport Program

When: Valid Monday through Friday the entire month of September (excluding the Labor Day holiday).

What: Passport for a full tasting flight at any five participating Temecula Valley wineries; includes souvenir wine glass. Passport includes discounts on wine purchases, wine club memberships and dining.

Tickets: $45 per person. For more information and tickets, click here.

“CRUSH on Temecula Valley Wines”
Do you have a crush on Temecula wines?  Visit several participating local restaurants throughout the month of September that will feature a special flight of local wines for the month.  Snap a picture of yourself with the wine flight, tag the restaurant and #crushontemeculawines for a chance to win some awesome prizes! Click here for more information.

#TemeculaWineChallenge Social Media Contest
Do you love social media almost as much as you love Temecula wine?  Then this challenge is for you! The entire month of September, we’re inviting you to select a few “wine country challenges”, such as clinking glasses with a Temecula Valley winemaker, tasting a barrel sample, etc.  Then, snap a pic to post the evidence of your challenge and share with your fellow oenophiles on social media.  We’ll pick winners throughout the month….and again….there will be prizes! Click here for more information.

CRUSH ~ A Wine & Culinary Showcase
Although we never need a reason to raise a glass in celebration, we’ll be doing just that at our 8th annual CRUSH event.  CRUSH is Temecula Valley Wine Country’s signature event and is The ONE and ONLY event showcasing the wines of 30+ member wineries in one location! Winery and local restaurants will also be on hand to pair small bites with the wine.  Mix and mingle with winery owners and winemakers at this most anticipated walk-about tasting!

When: Saturday, September 30 – 7:30p-10:00p
Where: Monte De Oro Winery
Cost: Standard ticket – $89 / VIP ticket – $110

Click here for more information and tickets


How to Properly Chill & Open Sparkling Wine

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

If you’re reading this, the chances are good that you’re cheering for, and with, bubbles. Sparkling wine has arguably never been a more popular beverage choice, especially in the U.S. The Wine Institute reported that in 2015, Champagne and sparkling wine sales in the U.S. grew by two million cases, topping off at an incredible 21.7 million cases that year.

You might be a bit shocked to learn, however, that the iconic imagery of celebrating major life events with the loud pop of a Champagne cork flying across the room has got it all wrong, at least when it comes to the best way to enjoy your bubbly-drinking experience. And if you’re like most of us, the bottle of sparkling wine at the end of that cork is being served too warm, too. Yeah, we know, we’re party poopers, but we’re trying to help you out, here.

While a cork-turned-flying-projectile is admittedly kind of fun, there are better ways of ensuring that your celebrations include getting the best out of the bottles of bubbly on which you spent your hard-earned cash. Those start with knowing the best way for chilling your sparkling wine (hint: it involves salt), and the best way to open it once it’s cooled down (hint: it’s not supposed to be noisy).

Here’s a primer on chilling and opening your bubbles, with an overview of the science behind it, for those of you who are skeptics at heart, and in case you want to impress your friends with your wine knowledge.

Chilling it Out
Due to its carbonation, sparkling wine generally tastes best when it’s served colder than most other wine styles. Typically, this is in the 43–48 degrees F (6–7 degrees C) temperature range. A lower temperature also slows down the molecular activity in the bottle, making it safer to open; warmer carbonated liquid tends to foam up more – which can make a mess. So, in a way, chilling sparkling wine is actually the first step in properly opening it.

You can achieve this chill-down by putting your bubbles into the refrigerator, but that takes about three hours, and mostly kills the romance associated with whipping out a bottle of celebratory sparkling wine. The quickest way to get your sparkling wine to the right serving temperature – usually getting the trick done on a 750 ml bottle in 20 minutes or less – is by using an ice bucket, ice, water, and salt.

First, fill the ice bucket about halfway with ice and water. This is the most important step in chilling the wine, and the one that even some seasoned professionals sometimes miss. A mixture of ice and water will chill down your sparkling wine much more quickly than ice alone. For that, we can thank the laws of thermodynamics (you know, the stuff you slept through during science class in high school). For the wine to cool, it needs to transfer its heat to its surroundings; the colder the surroundings, the more quickly it can do this. Ice, of course, cools the area around the bottle, but ice alone will have many air pockets between the ice cubes, and air, being a gas, isn’t great at heat/energy transfer. Water, on the other hand, is a pretty good medium for transferring heat, and it will fill in the air pockets between the ice cubes, increasing the amount of cooling material in contact with the bottle, thereby getting the bottle of bubbles cooler, faster.

Adding a handful of salt to the ice/water mixture before gently putting the bottle into the ice bucket is also a good idea. Why? Because salt will lower the freezing temperature of the ice water in the bucket. When that happens, there’s more melting than freezing happening in the bucket, increasing the ice water’s ability to absorb energy from the wine bottle, and minimizing the cooling time required. See, you should have paid more attention in physics class!

Don’t “Pop” it Open
Now that you’ve given your sparkling wine a 15-or-so minute chill-out, it’s time to open it up. Notice we didn’t say “pop” it open. Flying corks can be dangerous, and should be avoided. Not only that, but a loud “pop!” indicates that you’re releasing a lot of the carbonation in the sparkling wine, and you actually paid extra for those bubbles – so we want to keep them inside the bottle as best we can. Also, forget using a corkscrew on sparkling wine, because that’s dangerous; this needs to be done by hand.

First, get a small towel and dry off your bottle after removing it from the ice bucket. Next, remove the foil around the top of the bottle, and grab the bottle with one hand. Using your other hand, grab the wire tab at the bottom of the “cage” that secures the cork, and untwist it by turning it counter-clockwise.

While doing this, keep a thumb from your other hand on the top of the cage, and be sure that you’re not pointing the bottle at anyone (including yourself) or anything expensive. The reason: you’re holding a potential missile. There are 5 to 6 atmospheres of pressure inside that corked bottle of bubbly, equating to about 70 and 90 pounds per square inch. That’s the reason that Champagne bottles are thicker than still-wine bottles: so that they don’t explode. The pressure is going to want to find the quickest release, which is the opening in the neck of the bottle.

Once the wire cage is loosened, put the small towel over the top of the bottle, hold it at about a 45° angle, and continue to hold the top with one hand. Start twisting the bottle – yes, the bottle – slowly with one hand, while applying pressure against the cork and cage with the hand that’s holding the towel-covered top of the bottle. The carbonation will be trying to pop that cork right out, but that’s not what we want. Continue applying slight “negative” pressure as you twist the bottle, until the cork loosens and you can release it slowly.

If done correctly, instead of a pop, you should hear a sigh…which, hopefully, is similar to the sound that you’ll be making after drinking and appreciating your properly chilled and properly opened bottle of bubbles!

Article courtesy of Joe Roberts and our friends at PartSelect


Mother’s Day in Temecula Wine Country!

Monday, May 1st, 2017

Spending the day in Temecula Valley’s Wine Country……well, we can’t think of a better gift for Mom this Mother’s Day!  We’ve got you covered with brunches and lunches and everything in between. Here’s a list of wineries celebrating all of the Mom’s out there:

Baily Winery
Mother’s Day lunch at Carol’s Restaurant /
May 14 / 3-course lunch from 11:00-3:00 / Menu and prices will be posted on our website on May 1st.  It will be reservation only, credit card necessary for reservation / For reservations call 951.676.9243 or visit

Bel Vino Winery
Mother’s Day Brunch / May 14 / Two seating’s: 9:30 to 11:30 and 12:30 to 2:30 / Set up on top of Bel Vino’s Hilltop Terrace, we will be hosting a bottomless mimosa brunch, to include an Egg Bar, Bagel Bar, Carving Station. Spring Salad, Chicken and Waffles, Assorted Desserts, Crab Cakes, Yogurt Parfaits, Fruit Varieties, Live Music and more! Wine and Beer Extra. Children 3 and under are free / $83.99 for non-members, $71.06 for Wine Club Members, $29.67 for children / Call 951-676-6414 to make reservation.

Cougar Vineyard & Winery
Mother’s Day Special Treat
/ May 14 / 11am-6pm / Join us for a Special Treat…Bubbly Peach Sangria Flute Floats! / $8 each; Logo flute INCLUDED. $4 each for Wine Club Members!  The first 25 guests to pre-pay will also receive a long stem rose for Mom!  Come by…call 951.767.8398…or email to pre-pay.

Danza del Sol Winery
Mother May I GET SAUCED?!! / May 14 / 1:00p -4p / Treat Mom to a fun filled afternoon of food, wine, and culinary entertainment for Mother May I GET SAUCED?! / Price: $58.50 – $65.00 / Please check our website for additional information and reservations.

Europa Village
Mother’s Day Lunch / May 14 / 12pm-3pm / Gourmet three-course champagne lunch prepared by Executive Chef Dean Thomas. Live music by Jimmy Patton / Tickets $54 per person, children 10 & under $17. Tickets available via website or calling Event Department (951) 695-7175.

Falkner Winery
Mother’s Day Champagne Brunch in the Pinnacle Restaurant
/ May 14 / 10am-3pm / For a full menu please visit Live Entertainment will be provided / Cost: $69.95+/person (Wine Club $59.95+/person) Children (3-10) $29.50+/child (Wine Club $24.95+/child) / Reservations required please call 951-676-8231 option 4.

Lorimar Vineyard & Winery
Treat Mom to a Special Champagne Brunch / May 14 / 10am or 12:30pm / Located on our Vineyard Lawn / $60 regular, $55 WC / Tickets available through

Mount Palomar Winery
Mother’s Day at Annata Bistro/Bar / May 13 and May 14 / 11:00am – 7:00pm / Celebrate Mother’s Day all weekend at Annata Bistro/Bar! All Moms receive one complimentary classic Mimosa on Mother’s Day weekend, plus we’re running a limited time Mother’s Day menu / For reservations and information please visit

Oak Mountain Winery
Mother’s Day Brunch in The Cave / May 14 / 11am-4pm / For a complete brunch menu please visit our Events page at / $39 pp., Members $30 plus tax, includes 1 glass new Release Wine. Children, ages 6-12 are $15 +tax – 5 years and under are free. Gratuity not included; no refunds within 24 hours / Reservations 951 699-9102,

Thornton Winery
Mother’s Day Buffet / May 14 / 11am-4pm / Cost: $62.95 plus tax & gratuity (Adults). $22.95 plus tax & gratuity. Child 12- 6 yrs. old $19.95 plus tax & gratuity. (5 years and under – FREE). Call for Reservations: (951) 699-0099

Wilson Creek Winery
Mother’s Day Brunch / May 14 / 10am – 3pm /Enjoy live entertainment, our annual Petting Zoo, and a special bottle of wine to go home with mom! / Buffet + unlimited Sparkling Wine $64.95. Buffet Only $58.95. Children $14.95 / Reservations are required, online at or by calling 951-699-9463.


Moscato ~ The Perfect Spring Wine

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

Moscato, Muscatel, Muscat… what’s the difference between them? Just the names, actually. Rather than just being one grape, Muscat includes a family of grapes in a range of colors (from white to brown, or to near black.) For instance, Moscato is the Italian name and Muscatel the Spanish.

Here in the U.S., Moscato is making its mark and has become the hot wine of the moment. Some would say sweet versions of Moscato are ideal for the American sweet tooth; it’s also an easy wine for the new wine drinker to love.

For a perfect spring day, pack a picnic with a chilled bottle of Temecula Valley Moscato and pair it with good cheese, buttery crackers and seasonal fruit.

Here are five fun facts about Moscato:

1. Muscat is the only fine wine grape that doubles as a table grape.

2. Twitter buzzes with an average of 250 tweets an hour about people drinking their Moscato.

3. In addition to Moscato, Muscatel and Muscat, this common white variety is also known as Muscadel, Muscat Blanc and Muscat Canelli.

4. Virtually all pink Moscatos gain their hue from a splash of red wine, not skin contact.

5. The breadth and number of varieties of Muscat suggest that it is perhaps the oldest domesticated grape variety, and there are theories that most families within the Vitis vinifera grape variety are descended from the Muscat variety.

Some Temecula Valley Moscatos and Muscat Canelli’s to try:

Avensole Winery – 2014 Muscat Canelli
Callaway Vineyard & Winery – 2016 Special Selection Muscat Canelli
Europa Village – 2015 Estate Muscat Canelli
Leoness Cellars – 2015 Muscat Canelli
Maurice Car’rie Vineyards & Winery – 2015 Moscato
Monte De Oro Winery – 2015 Muscat Canelli
Oak Mountain Winery – 2016 Muscat Canelli
Ponte Winery – 2016 Moscato
Robert Renzoni Vineyards – 2015 Moscato
South Coast Winery Resort & Spa – 2015 Muscat Canelli
Thornton Winery – 2015 Muscat Canelli
Wilson Creek Winery – 2016 Muscat Canelli


Wine for St. Patrick’s Day!?

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

So, if you’re a wine lover, how do you survive a holiday that is clearly for beer drinkers?  Many of our winemakers tell us that wine drinkers are the best beer drinkers because it takes a lot of good beer to make a good wine.

But, today’s your lucky day!  When good ole’ St. Paddy’s day rolls around, you can wear that cheesy green hat, be forced to eat corned beef and cabbage AND have your wine….yes, wine.

Here are some of our favorite picks to raise a glass and cheer Saint Patrick.

If you’re looking for that “Pot of Gold”, why not stick with bubbly?  Try Monte De Oro’s 2015 Bolle De Oro which took home a Double Gold at the 2016 American Wine Society National Commercial Wine Competition.

If you’re serving corned beef and cabbage, how about trying South Coast Winery’s 2013 Wild Horse Peak Zinfandel, or if you really want to get creative, serve Hart Winery’s 2015 Rosé of Sangiovese.

Or, if you feel like standing in solidarity with your beer drinking friends, drink Wiens Family Cellars’ bold 2014 Bare Knuckle Petite Sirah in a beer mug!

Whatever wine you choose to drink on St. Patrick’s Day, have the confidence of a lepercaun!  Those beer drinkers just might start to wonder what they’re missing out on.


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.


Wine Country Recipe ~ Ponte Winery’s Beverino Infused Apple Pot Pie

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

These Beverino Infused Apple Pot Pies look amazing! Beverino actually means “easy to drink” in Italian. The wine’s subtle sweetness comes from a careful blend of several varieties (Ponte Winery’s best kept secret), all grown right here in Temecula.  We can’t think of a better way to enjoy a glass of it by pairing it with this scrumptious looking dessert.

Yield: 6 medium individual baking dishes

Apple Pot Pie Filling

Beverino, Cranberry & Currant Poaching Liquid Ingredients:

1 ¼ cups Ponte Beverino
⅓ cup sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
¾ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup dried currants
Zest of one orange


  1. Put wine and sugar in small saucepan with cinnamon sticks.
  2. Add the cranberries, currants, and orange zest.
  3. Cook on medium-low heat until poaching liquid is reduced by ⅓.
  4. Take off heat and set aside to cool.

Apple Filling Ingredients:

6 large granny smith apples, chopped into ½ inch cubes
⅓ cup sugar
¼ cup flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon


  1. Put the cubed apple in a large bowl. Stir the wine poached dried fruit, cinnamon sticks, sugar, flour and cinnamon into the cubed apples and stir with rubber spatula.
  2. Refrigerate overnight to allow apples to soak up the poaching wine flavor.

Puff Pastry Rounds


  1. Purchase puff pastry from freezer section of grocery store. Thaw the puff pastry. If the pastry won’t unfold, let thaw a little more. Remove one sheet and place on cutting board.
  2. Using your baking dish as a stencil, turn it upside down and set onto puff pastry in upper left corner. Run a sharp knife blade around the outside of the dish to create the top. Repeat. Use second puff pastry sheet if needed.
  3. Place the pot pie tops onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Take a small cookie cutter and cut a second hole in the center of the puff pastry. Place another piece of parchment on top of the puff tops. Place another cookie sheet on top of the parchment. This will stop the puff pastry from rising too high and ensure even and level finished tops.
  4. Bake in oven at 350° for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Remove top cookie sheet and top baking parchment. Egg-wash the puff pastry tops and sprinkle generously with raw sugar.
  5. Return the puff pastry tops to the oven and bake for 5-8 more minutes until golden brown. Store in airtight container until ready to assemble.

Assembling the Apple Pot Pie:

  1. Remove cinnamon sticks and fill the baking dishes to the top with Beverino apple filling.
  2. Take the left over juice from the filling and divide it evenly among the baking dishes.
  3. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes until apple mix is bubbly and apples are tender. Leave foil on top of dishes and let rest until warm to the touch. Clean outside of baking dishes where juices have boiled over.
  4. Place one pre-baked puff pastry top on top of the baked apples. Place one scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of the puff pastry in the center hole. Finely grate fresh nutmeg onto ice cream and garnish with one dried apple chip. Serve warm.

Dried Apple Chip Slices:

  1. Slice one unpeeled, whole granny smith apple on thin setting of mandolin cutter, or carefully slice apple into even thin slices. Dip lightly into simple syrup (which is mixture of ½ cup water and ½ cup of sugar brought to a boil and cooled).
  2. Place sweetened apple slices onto sprayed parchment or silicon mat. Bake at 225° until crispy. Test by peeling one apple slice from parchment or mat and place on counter top until cold. Taste for crispness. Return to oven until desired crispness. Finished crispy apple slices should be slightly golden brown

Recipe and photo courtesy of Ponte Winery


Winter in Wine Country

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

So, what exactly goes on in the vineyards when it’s winter time?  The annual growth cycle of Temecula Valley’s grapevines consummates in autumn with leaf fall followed by vine dormancy. After harvest, typically August-October in Temecula, the vine’s roots and trunk are busy storing carbohydrate reserves produced by photosynthesis in their leaves. Once the level of carbohydrates needed by the vine is reached, the leaves change from green to yellow and start to fall off the vines. Usually after the first frost, the vine enters its winter dormancy period. During this time, winemakers get a break from the bulk of their farm work as the vines sleep and start to prepare for the next wine season.

During this dormant period, according to Wiens Family Cellars winemaker Joe Wiens, the vines don’t need a lot of attention. Wiens puts on a little water to keep the roots moist and let them sleep. “We get to breathe a sigh of relief after the long hours of crush but have plenty of other things to keep us busy” says Wiens. Blending, barrel work, and bottling, in addition to brushing up on wine knowledge, new techniques, and attending winemaking seminars to continually improve are some of the things that keep him busy.

Nick Palumbo, winemaker and owner of Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery shares: “Winter time is busy! The good news is it gets cold here in Temecula, so the vines go into dormancy and that gives us a chance to get caught up in the cellar after a long harvest season. That means topping barrels, assessing previous vintages and getting ready for bottling as well as general maintenance. Mulching is done if needed and pruning all needs to be done just after the holidays. Weed and pest control (gophers etc) as well as going through the irrigation system and getting that dialed in for the spring are all on the to do list. We also don’t forget to prep for much needed rain events. We need to make sure if and when we do get rain, it doesn’t erode our soils and farm roads. Winter is a good time for winemakers to take off the cellar boots, put on the farm boots, and get out in the quiet cold mornings alone and start making next years wine which will be hanging on the vines sooner than we think.”

At Danza del Sol Winery, Art Villareal, the winery’s winemaker, stays busy during winter processing wines from the recent harvest. This includes filtration, cold stabilizing, racking, and placing wine into barrels. “There is no downtime in winemaking. We are always processing wine from the previous harvest and preparing for the upcoming bottling season” says Villareal. As far as vineyard maintenance goes, Villereal says patience is key and waits for the vines to go dormant and then prunes them back. He also states Temecula is special as the winter keeps the vines asleep only as long as necessary and ensures a longer period of time to mature the clusters during the growing season.

With all the activity in the valley during the winter, a visit to Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country is an entertaining winter option. Many wineries offer behind the scenes tours where guests can see some of the winter viticulture and winemaking processes happen in person. While visiting, guests can stay at one of the many local inns, hotels, or resorts.

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