Archive for the ‘Winery News’ Category

It’s Never Too Late for a Life in Wine!

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016


It is often assumed that winery owners were born with dirt under their fingernails and raised among the vines by families who have been making wine for generations. While Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country is certainly home to those with winemaking in their blood, a quick tour through the region also yields an entirely different crop of wine leadership – entrepreneurs who saw the promise of the region and left wildly different careers to build a life in wine.

One of the most iconic wineries in the region, Wilson Creek Winery, is home not only to great wines, but also to a diverse cross-section of skill sets. CEO Bill Wilson was a Series 7 financial planner specializing in tax-deferred annuities before answering the call of the vine, while Wilson Creek’s winemaker, Gus Vizgirda, was previously a self-described “cartoonist, weatherman, officiant, teacher and vineyard yoga guru.”

While owner & winemaker Robert Renzoni of Robert Renzoni Vineyards was actually born and raised in the wine business, he broke off early on to pursue music, touring with his alt-rock band “Absent” for 9 years before returning to his roots. The music never left him though, and today many of Renzoni’s wines are named for musical references, like the Pinot Grigio-Viognier blend, “Cantata” and the Super Tuscan-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese, “Sonata.”

Palumbo Family Vineyards and Winery owner and winemaker Nick Palumbo played in New York City post-grunge band “The Morning Glories” and was also a chef in both New York and San Diego, cooking for the likes of George W. Bush and Wesley Snipes, among others. His wife and winery co-owner, Cindy, was an insurance agent for 15 years prior to jumping into wine.

Wiens Family Cellars owner and general manager, Jeff Wiens, had to go through two previous careers before landing in wine, including a 10-year stint as professional drummer, as well as a Senior Industrial Engineer in the aerospace industry.

But Temecula Valley isn’t only made up of former rock stars. Careers in business before wine were also common. Briar Rose Winery owner Les Linkogle had a successful career in mortgage banking, while his wife, Dorian was an executive vice president at the Aetna Corporation for 25 years before the two followed their lifelong dream to produce wine.

Frangipani Estate Winery owner and winemaker, Don Frangipani was growing mushrooms for his wife, JoAnn’s family’s mushroom farm in Escondido, as well as for their own mushroom-growing business on Mt. Palomar, and cooking for one of her family’s restaurants, before launching his career in wine.


Summer Whites for Every Palate

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016


There are few better ways to cool off on a sunny summer day than with a cold, crisp glass of white wine. This season, Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country invites wine lovers to sip their way through the region’s stunning whites. With so many delectable selections—from those made from lesser-known varieties to unique blends—Temecula Valley vintners offers a refreshing bottle to suit every palate.

Viognier: This darling of the wine world is widely produced in the region, and is a great alternative to Chardonnay because of its traditionally rich, luscious mouth-feel.

South Coast Winery Viognier 2015, $20: An aromatic peach and nectarine bouquet with a rich, velvety finish, from the winery that just was just named the 2016 California Golden State Winery of the Year for the fourth time. No other winery has received the coveted “Golden Bear” four times in the history of the competition.

Van Roekel Estate Viognier 2014 (Maurice Car’rie Winery), $22: This award-winning, estate-grown Viognier boasts notes of apricot and Asian pear, with hints of citrus blossom.

Sauvignon Blanc: Always a warm-weather favorite, this aromatic varietal grows well in Temecula Valley terroir. Many local wineries offer bright, fruit-forward bottlings perfect for picnics and outdoor dining.

Monte De Oro Sauvignon Blanc 2015, $19: Made from 100% estate-grown fruit, this wine was selected as the white dinner wine for the 2016 Daytime Emmy Awards. Citrus and tropical fruits round out this well-balanced summer sipper.

Oak Mountain Sauvignon Blanc 2015, $21: Succulent melon and grapefruit mingle together in this medium-bodied Sauvignon Blanc. A light influence of French Oak adds unexpected complexity.

And now, for something completely different: Temecula Valley has a huge selection of lesser-known French, Italian, Spanish and even Portuguese varieties. Summer is the perfect time to get out of your comfort zone and discover a new favorite.

Palumbo Grenache Blanc 2014, $28: Wine Enthusiast Magazine gave it 91 points, describing it as “texturally grippy and tense, with flavors of yellow pear, lemon rinds and ever-so slight stone fruit, with tongue-tingling acidity deep into the finish.”

Ponte Vineyards Vermentino 2015, $31: This native Italian grape finds great expression in Temecula Valley. Notes of passion fruit, pink grapefruit and apricot give way to a crisp, refreshing, food-friendly finish.

A little from column A, a little from column B: Temecula Valley offers not only stellar red blends, but some fantastic proprietary white blends as well.

Mount Palomar Shorty’s Bistro White NV, $19: This unusual, award-winning blend of Palomino (a grape commonly used in making sherry), Cinsaut (a red grape) and Viognier is bright and easy-drinking, with notes of pineapple, peach and honeysuckle.

Robert Renzoni Cantata 2015, $22: This blend of 60% Pinot Grigio and 40% Viognier offers a crisp bouquet of apple and pear on the nose with a hint of pineapple on the finish.


Temecula Valley Winery named California Winery of the Year!

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

winery-of-the-yearWe were so excited to learn that our very own, South Coast Winery Resort & Spa, has once again been named California Winery of the Year for an unprecedented 4th time!

Sacramento has just released the results from the nation’s oldest and most prestigious wine competition, and Southern California Temecula Valley’s South Coast Winery Resort & Spa has been named the 2016 California Golden State Winery of the Year.

Records were broken this year at the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition as South Coast Winery was the first and only winery in the competition’s history to be presented with a four-time championship, naming it the 2016 California Golden State Winery of the Year. South Coast Winery brought home the first California State Winery of the Year award to its Southern California Temecula Valley home in 2008 and then followed it up with a back-to-back win in 2009. It earned the top title in the California State competition again in 2013 and now celebrates its fourth win for 2016.
South Coast Winery Winery of The Year 2016

Dating back to 1854, the California State Wine Competition premieres only wines made with fruit grown in California; and there were 2,854 wines judged from 750 of the state’s top wineries during this year’s competition.

“South Coast Winery is truly honored to be bringing this recognition to Temecula Valley Wine Country, especially with only 13 years of wine production. This award is a reflection of the dedication and the collaboration between our soil and vines, the vineyard team and our talented winemakers. I’m humbled to be a part of it,” states Jim Carter, the owner/vintner for the Southern California winery resort.

Congratulations to Mr. & Mrs. Carter and the entire South Coast Winery team!


June Winery Events

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016


Summertime kicks off with a number of exciting events at your favorite Temecula wineries.  From an awesome sounding Celebrity Chef Dinner, to multiple Father’s Day events, “movies in the vines” and everything in between, we’ve got you covered in June!

Avensole Winery
Painting in the Vines / June 14 / 1pm-4pm / Cost $49; 15% off for Wine Club Members / Explore your creative side as you paint a wine themed piece and sip Avensole wines.  Includes all materials and a glass of your favorite Avensole wine.

Father’s Day BBQ / June 19 / 11am to 5pm / This day should be all about dad! Treat your father to a memorable BBQ at Avensolde Winery. A glass of beer, explore wine or cocktail included in every Father’s BBQ entree purchase.

Live Music in the Restaurant and Marketplace
 / Friday and Saturday from 5p-8p / All free and open to the public / 6/3 James Wells / 6/4 Michael LeClerc / 6/11 Justin Shultz / 6/18- tba / 6/25 Tim Walsh

Live Music on the Tasting Room patio / Saturday 1p-4p and Sunday 2p-5p / All free and open to the public / 6/4 Mickie Arnett / 6/5 Brian Stodart / 6/11 funk Shui Planet / 6/12- tba / 6/19 Hunter Pea / 6/25 Mickie Arnett / 6/26 Funk Shui Planet

Baily Vineyard & Winery
Shakespeare in the Vines – Much Ado About Nothing / June 11, 12, 16, 17, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25 & 26 / Showtime starts at 7pm / Much Ado About Nothing stands tall as one of Shakespeare’s most popular and relevant comedies / Tickets: General Seating: Regular $22, Seniors 55+, Students, Military $17, Season Ticket $20. Royal Table Seating: Regular $30, Season Ticket $27 / For ticket information please log on to

Father’s Day Lunch at Carol’s Restaurant / June 19 / 11:30a- 3p / Regular Menu plus some Father’s Day special menu items / For more information please call 951.676.9463
Dog Day Sundays / Every Sunday (closed June 5th) / 11:30a-2:30p / Bring your well-mannered pooch to lunch, doggie treats and special menu items / / Live acoustic music on the patio

Bel Vino Winery
Cigar Dinner / June 25 / 6p-9p / 3 Cigars paired with 3-Course meal along with award-winning wines. Live Music for entertainment / Wine Club Member $59.95, Non-members $65.95 / RSVP by calling 951.676.6414 or visit

Karaoke Night / Every Friday 6p-9p / Free admission / Karaoke every Friday night at Bel Vino Winery in the Barrel Room / Happy Hour from 6pm-7pm; select Bel Vino Bistro menu offered.
Live Band every Saturday and Sunday / 1:00-5:00pm / Free to the public

Briar Rose Winery
Sip Into the Sunset / First Friday of each month / Open until 10pm / Live music from 6p-9m and wine under the stars in our enchanted garden or tasting room / Purchase a glass of wine or a bottle / Outside food allowed at these events only / Reservations required; call 951.308.1098

Callaway Vineyard & Winery
Live Music at the Courtyard Patio / Every Saturday from 1pm to 5pm

Live music at Meritage at Callaway / Friday to Sunday from 5pm to 7pm
All free and open to the public.

Carter Estate Winery and Resort
Elegant Food & Wine Pairing / $40pp / Available Mid-week 1pm and 3pm; Weekends 1pm and 3pm/ 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 season accoutrements. Each pairing last approximately 90 minutes and is limited to just eight participants to allow for one-on-one interaction / For reservations call today: 844.851.2138

Cougar Vineyard & Winery
Sunday Live Music / 2:00-5:00pm / Free to the public

Friday Night Live Music / 5pm-8pm / Free to attend / Happy Hour 2 for 1 glasses of wine from 7-8pm / Industry and Wine Club benefits honored / Deli is open until 7pm /

Doffo Winery
3rd Annual MotoDoffo Event for the Benefit of the Kurt Caselli Foundation / June 11 /
10am – 4pm / Tickets available at or at the gate.

Danza del Sol Winery
Live Music on the Patio / 1:00-5:00pm / Grab your friends and head over to Danza del Sol for a Saturday afternoon of wine and great music / June 4th – Michael SG / June 11th – Dustin Jake / June 18th – Rosewood & Rye / June 25th – JD Priest

Taco Tuesday / June 14 / 5:30pm – 8:30pm / Tuesdays Just Got Tastier!
Join us on the Tasting Room Patio for Tacos, Burritos, and More! Live music! / Admission is FREE! / Wine and selected beer for purchase. Wine club discounts apply to bottle purchases only. Wine Club complimentary glass excluded from this event.

Get Sauced! / June 26 / It’s Sunday Funday! / 3p-6p /Join us for a fun filled afternoon of food, wine, and culinary entertainment in our Club House! Cooking demo class, & small plates by The M Group, wine pairings by our educated staff, and recipes to take home and special wine discounts provided, and smiles by you!
– Menu –
• Smoked Tri-Tip with Blueberry Chutney SAUCE
• Bone-in Short Rib with Chipotle Bacon Peach BBQ SAUCE
• Grilled Fruit Kabob with Marshmallow Amaretto SAUCE
$60 per person | $54 Wine Club
All tickets are subject to 8% tax. Gratuity not included / Seating is Limited, and by RSVP Only! Call Kelly at (951) 302-6363 ext. 26 or purchase your tickets online at

Europa Village
Movie in the Vines / June 16 / 7:30p-10:00p / Outdoor Screening of the movie “Chef” (Rated R). Please bring blankets / Food truck “That’s What Cheese Said” and Popcorn & Candy to be sold / Free with online RSVP. Please visit

International Music & Wine Dinner – “Tastes & Sounds of Europa” / June 23 / 6:00p-9:00p / 5 course dinner prepared by Chef Dean with a Spanish, French & Italian musical performance / $89 per person / Tickets may be purchased online at

Wine Education Class by Dr. Doug – Italian Theme / June 30 / 6:00p-8:00p / Wine Education class taught by our Level III Sommelier and food pairings / $29 per guest / Tickets purchased may be purchase online at

Friday Night Entertainment / 6:00-9:00pm / Free to the public / Live entertainment on our outdoor Veranda / June 3- Big Truth / June 10- Abrakadabra / June 17- Blue Fish

Live Music every Sunday / 1:00-4:00pm / Free to the public / Live entertainment on our outdoor Veranda / June 5- Dustin Jake / June 12- Jimmy Patton / June 19- Astra Kelly / June 26- Joe Baldino

Falkner Winery
Wine Appreciation Class / June 18 / 10a-12:30p / Designated for all levels of wine knowledge / $45 per person, $40 Connoisseur, $20 VIP. $70 per person with lunch option / RSVP required at 951.676.8231 ext. 109 or

Funday, Sunday in the Yard Garden / Every Sunday in June / 12:00-3:00pm / Game Competition starts at 1pm as well as other limited availability lawn games. Taco bar, carafes of sangria, and beer will be available for purchase / Must be present to register prior to 1:00 pm for the game competition /

Winemaker Dinner at the Pinnacle / June 25 / 6:00pm / Wine and appetizers in the vines; 5 course wine pairing dinner / $120 pp / RSVP required at 951.676.8231 ext. 109 or

Foot Path Winery
Food, Wine and Music / June 25 / 6:30p-9:00p / $30 per person / Musical entertainment by Jason Webber / Includes one glass of wine and finger food / For reservations and information please contact or call 951.265.9951

Frangipani Winery
Father’s Day Cigar Dinner / June 18 / 5:30p-9:00p / $49 per person + tax; Wine Club Members $39 per person + tax / Celebrate Father’s Day at our Cigar Night with Casa Lovo cigars and food catered by Mad Mike’s American Gourmet sausages. Includes a glass of wine, dinner, cigar hand rolled at the event / Reservations are required by June 13th. Please contact the winery at 951.699.8845 to reserve.

Leoness Cellars
Live Music in The Restaurant / Friday 5pm-8pm & Saturday 5-8pm.
Live Music in the Barrel Room / Sunday 1pm-4pm.
All Free & Open to the Public

Lorimar Vineyards & Winery
Movie in the Vines / June 27 / Three Amigos / Movie start at sunset. No cost for admission / Wine and food available for purchase.

Live Music Friday & Saturday / 6p-9p / Free to the public / June 3- Bodie / June 4- Mrs. Jones Revenge / June 10- Mercedes Moore Band / June 11- Lifetime Rocker / June 17- Kanan Road / June 18- Mrs. Jones Revenge / June 25- Midnight Satellites
Live Music Sunday / 2p-5pm / Free to the public / June 5- Alaina Blair / June 12- JD Priest / June26- Al & Brad

Maurice Car’rie Winery
Let’s Dance! / June 25 / 7p-10p / Come join the fun and celebrate our 30 year anniversary! Dance with the dynamic Kepi Payne Project! This high-profile energy band will keep you on your feet all night long! They perform an electric variety of music from Jazz, Funk, R & B/Soul, Blues and Classic Rock! Local artists will also join us to display their incredible photography and paintings / Food and award-winning Maurice Car’rie wines will available for purchase / No cover charge for the public / For additional information call 951.676.1711 or visit

Miramonte Winery
Live Music & Entertainment / Every Friday and Saturday / 7pm-10pm / Free to the public /
Friday, June 3 – Mercedes Moore; Old school soul, blues, R & B / Saturday, June 4 – Devocean; local reggae-rock and ska band / Friday, June 10 Ruben V; Latin & salsa music / Saturday, June 11 – Bluefish; big rock sounds from the 70’s, 80’s & 90’s / Friday, June 17 – Mickie Arnett; 90’s rock and covers! / Saturday, June 18 – Missy Andersen; know as So. Cal’s top blue’s diva! / Friday, June 24 – Midnight Satellites; gutsy, modern rock performers / Saturday, June 25 – Nathan James; winner of the International Blues Challenge / No reservations required. For more information please visit

Monte De Oro Winery
Sounds of Sunday / 1:00-5:00pm / Come, relax and end the weekend with a glass of wine and a Bistro entrée. Live music program every Sunday on our outdoor patio / For additional information please visit us at

Oak Mountain Winery
Monte Carlo Night – Benefitting Cause Fur Paws / June 11 / 6p-9p / 100% of the money earned goes towards our furry friends diabetes treatments! $50 donation includes: play money and 1 glass of wine. Fun & prizes too! / Food, wine and beer available for purchase / For tickets call 951.699.9102 or email

Mount Palomar Winery
Father’s Day BBQ / June 19 / 10:00a – 6:00p / Celebrate Dad this Father’s Day by treating him to an open air BBQ at the beautiful Mount Palomar Winery in Temecula. The special menu includes hamburgers, cheeseburgers, salmon, sausages, hotdogs, and classic BBQ salads. Beer and wine will both be available.Reservations online at:

Paint Nite / 1:00p – 3:00pm / June 5- Yellow Koi / June 19- Heady Hops / June 25- Pretty Petals / Raise your glass to a NEW kind of night out! Paint Nite® invites you to create art over a glass of wine at a Mount Palomar Winery, guided by a professional artist and party host. Grab your friends and spend two hours drinking, laughing, and flexing your creative muscles. There’s no experience necessary and we’ll provide all the supplies, so you don’t have to worry about a thing (except having a great time!) You’ll leave with a beautiful painting at each session / Cost: $45 per person for each session / Tickets online at

Dead Man’s Party – A Tribute to Oingo Boingo / June 17 / 6:00 – 10:00 pm / Enjoy a beautiful evening in the vineyards under the stars at Mount Palomar Winery! Playing all the hits such as: Weird Science • Dead Man’s Party • Just Another Day • Good For Your Soul • Who Do You Want To Be • Private Life • Grey Matter • Stay * Only A Lad • No One Lives Forever • We Close Our Eyes • Goodbye Goodbye and so many more greats songs! / Tickets online at / Preorder tickets $25, $30 day of show

Elizabeth Huett Live at Mount Palomar Winery / June 24 / 6:00p – 10:00p / Elizabeth Huett will showcase many country hits as well as her own songs from across the southland. Elizabeth Huett has toured the world in 22 countries, playing 216 shows as a backing vocalist for international superstar, Taylor Swift, and has just signed a major deal with Interscope records. She is also co-writer of Sara Evan’s “Put my Heart Down,” Evans’s single has been playing on country radio stations, such as local K-FROG/ Preorder tickets $25, $30 day of show / Log on to

Ponte Family Estate Winery
Live Music in The Cellar Lounge at Ponte Vineyard Inn / Every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday / Head to Temecula Wine Country’s only cocktail bar open late every day, The Cellar Lounge at Ponte Vineyard Inn. The Cellar offers live music every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night! Sip to the sounds of a variety of musicians, from jazz sax and alternative contemporary to rock blues! / Time and Entertainment schedule varies / Free to attend / Visit for an entertainment schedule.

Happy Hour in The Cellar Lounge at Ponte Vineyard Inn / Every Monday-Thursday / 4pm-7pm Free to attend / Head to Temecula Wine Country’s only cocktail bar, The Cellar Lounge at Ponte Vineyard Inn, for happy hour for specials on craft beer, flatbreads, wine and more!

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa
Celebrity Chef Dinner / Friday, June 17 / 6pm-11pm / What do you get when you combine Southern California’s MasterChef with Master Winemakers? An award-winning seven-course wine and food paired pop-up dinner that is hot “off-the-grid”! Join us for the first ever pop-up dinner with Chef Claudia Sandoval winner of Season 6 MasterChef will be hosting a partnership with South Coast Winery. 7 course dinners perfectly paired with 7 award-winning wines plus a champagne cocktail hour and appetizer raw bar. You’ll even receive an autographed copy of “Claudia’s Cocina: A Taste of Mexico” as part of this magical adventure / Cost $195 / Packages are available including a luxurious overnight stay, but space is limited so reserve today:

Wine, Dine & Painting Class / Sunday, June 26 / 10am-2pm / This exclusive package comes with three-hours instruction and supplies to pain your masterpiece, and follows with a select lunch menu to redeem at the Vineyard Rose Restaurant / Cost $75 per person; $70 Wine Club / Purchase tickets online at or cal 951.587.9463 Ext. 5250

Live Entertainment at the Vineyard Rose / Every Friday and Saturday in June / 6pm-9pm / Visit for details.

Behind the Scenes Wine Tours / Tours are held daily at 11 AM, 1 PM and 3PM, Monday through Sunday/ $40pp; $35pp Wine Club Member / Because you’ve got good taste…Get up close and personal as you learn more about our spectacular Southern California winery with a behind-the-scenes tour. From vineyards to crush pad, each tour concludes with a specially prepared wine and food pairing. Due to the limited sizes of each tour, advance reservations are required with prepayment, and are non-refundable. Must be over 21 years of age to attend. Call 800-539-1375 Ext. 350 to reserve your spot today.

Why Limit Happy to an Hour? / Happy Hours at Vineyard Rose Restaurant Monday-Friday 3:00p-5:30p Join us in the Vineyard Rose Lounge for reduced priced selected appetizers, award winning select glasses of South Coast wines and local drafts. PLUS corkage fees are waived for any South Coast Winery wine bottles brought in to the Vineyard Rose Restaurant and consumed while dining on Wednesdays too! / Visit to view menus and find out more.

Thornton Winery
Friday Live Music / 6pm-9pm / Free to public / June 3- Illegal Sveeds / June 10- Crimson Crow / June 17- Big Truth / June 24- Kanan Road / Call (951) 699-0099 to reserve a table!

Jazz Concert Series
Peter White, Paul Taylor, Euge Groove / Sunday, June 5th / 4:00pm / General Admission $75; Gourmet Supper Package $150 / Call (951) 699-0099 ext. 3127 or ext. 3129 for reservations

Boney James / Saturday, June 11th / 7:00pm / General Admission $85; Gourmet Supper Package $160 / Call (951) 699-0099 ext. 3127 or ext. 3129 for reservations

Herb Alpert & Lani Hall / Saturday, June 18th / 7:00pm / General Admission $95; Gourmet Supper Package $170 / Call (951) 699-0099 ext. 3127 or ext. 3129 for reservations.

Photo courtesy of Josue Castro


Wacky Weather Patterns & The Vineyards

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

It was predicted to be an epic weather event of almost historic proportions but the highly anticipated El TVWGA--104Niño of winter 2015-2016 failed to materialize here in Southern California Wine Country.

Grape growers and winemakers alike were hoping that the record rainfall predicted with El Niño would bring much needed moisture to local vineyards. January did bring a few days of moisture but February turned up the heat with unusually high temperatures and March through May wasn’t much cooler.

According to recent news from the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center, the threat of El Niño has past. However, they do say to expect “La Niña” to influence our weather later this summer and through the winter, which means warmer temperatures and less than normal rainfall. Though, not exactly music to the ears of local vintners and growers, they are finding less water is producing smaller grapes with more concentrated sugar and more complex flavor.

Grapevines thrive in less-than-desirable conditions. Their roots reach deep to find water. In fact, according to the University of California Drought Management program, “In the production of wine grapes, it has long been recognized that water deficits can lead to improved fruit quality–especially in red wine varieties,” the hallmark of Temecula Valley Wine Country.

According to local vineyard owner and winemaker David Bradley of Vindemia Winery, “To grow grapes in Temecula Valley, we need snow in Colorado,” which, in turn will feed one of the Southwest’s main water sources, the Colorado River. News of recent snowstorms in the region is a hopeful sign for what could be a very dry period ahead for Temecula Valley Wine Country.

Bradley says with so many warm winters over the past few years, they “look for budbreak to be early” with “new harvest dates of July and August,” rather than the traditional September start.

Gus Vizgirda, Winemaker at Wilson Creek Winery, has been crafting wines and tending vines in the valley for decades and has kept meticulous records. After looking at a number of variables such as rainfall, daily high and low temperatures, grape tonnage and harvest times, he’s observed that, over the last 10 years or so, harvest is starting earlier and earlier, while the actually length of the crucial growing season is become shorter.

Other growers and winemakers have noticed a similar pattern and are taking steps to adapt to the effects of climate change. Last year, for example, local vineyards began to adjust their water usage, when supply was cut by 10% by the Rancho California Water District. Vineyards that didn’t comply faced stiff, and expensive, penalties.

“It is important to remember that while striving to regulate water applications, the overall health and well-being of the vine is paramount. Balancing the crop load, vine vigor and water uptake are all important facets of the grape quality that is yielded. We are in a new era of grape growing and water will always be part of the equation. How we use it certainly determines our wine quality and outcome,” states Jon McPherson, Master Winemaker for South Coast Winery and Carter Estate Winery.

One way to conserve water, said Craig Larson, winemaker for Callaway Vineyard & Winery, is “to constantly monitor the vineyards and water the vines for short, more frequent periods, to avoid over stressing the vines. Conditions can change rapidly.” Last harvest, Larson noted, it wasn’t uncommon to make a harvesting decision only to find, a few days later, that the grapes had already begun to dehydrate – something you didn’t see several years ago.

Proper and selective canopy management and monitoring nutrient requirements are key with these drier, warmer conditions and, adds Bradley, “Mulch, soil temperatures and pest health will also need greater attention.”

El Niño may not have delivered its expected downpours and who knows if La Niña will bring the dry conditions predicted. Whatever nature brings in the coming months, the growers and winemakers will adapt and accept the challenge, and continue to craft another stellar vintage in Temecula Valley.


The Art of Wine Labels

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

RenzoniWineLabelYou can’t judge a wine by its label—but a beautiful “cover” certainly can’t hurt. Temecula Valley wineries are putting just as much creativity and originality into their label designs as they are in their wines. And the results are inspiring.

Wine labels are the first thing that attracts a consumer when contemplating which wine to choose. Some first-time shoppers even choose a wine by the label–after all, the label builds the anticipation of what’s inside the bottle. It’s the quality of the wine itself that makes customers loyal fans.

Temecula Valley vintners are adorning their bottles with art that is not only beautiful, sometimes even fun, but often tells a sentimental story. The label of Lorimar Winery’s 2014 Chardonnay bears scenic photographs of the vineyard from which it came, in each of the four seasons. The images were taken by Temecula-based photographer Bodhi Smith, and the four-image work, called “Seasons of Del Oro,” is for sale on coasters and as an art piece at the winery.

Oak Mountain Winery’s Double Trouble 2013 Riesling has a bright blue label depicting Buddy and Bandit, the two beloved Queensland Heelers of vintners Valerie and Steve Andrews. The label is a watercolor painting by local artist Tamra Gerard. The artwork also can be found in “Winery Dogs of USA” book #3.

Robert Renzoni Winery’s 2013 Fiore di Fano, a Super Tuscan blend of estate-grown Cabernet, Sauvignon, Brunello Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, has special meaning to owner and winemaker Robert Renzoni. The classically styled painting that adorns the label was a gift from a special friend he met on a journey to his family’s hometown, Fano, Italy.

Wiens Winery’s Red Crowded is a red-wine blend so-named for the “crowd” of varietals in each vintage, such as the Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Barbera, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, Cabrenet Franc, Sangiovese and Syrah in the 2014. Red Crowded is one of a series, which also includes White Crowded and Pink Crowded (rosé) blends, fancifully designed featuring appropriately colored red, white and pink birds by local artist Kelly Vivanco. All three designs are available on posters and t-shirts.

Falkner Winery’s 2014 Risque Riesling is illustrated with a sleek black pump and tube of vibrant red lipstick in a classy nod to consumers, often women, according to owner Loretta  Falkner, who like a bit of sweetness in their white wine. Risque Riesling is part of Falkner’s sweet Seductive Series, which also includes a red blend and rosé.

South Coast Winery vintner Jim Carter commissioned artist Tamra Gerard to paint a portrait of his dear Aunt Ruby as she might have looked in the 1920s for his Ruby Cuvée. Both the label and the carefully crafted sparkling Syrah in the bottle are intended to capture the effervescent charm of Ruby Carter, who was always the belle of the ball. The art can be found on t-shirts, posters, coasters and magnets in South Coast’s gift shop.

Newly opened Fazeli Cellars pays homage to owner BJ Fazeli’s homeland with a series of wines named for acclaimed Persian poets. The 2012 Ferdowsi Cabernet Franc is named for Abu Ferdowsi, widely known as the most influential figure in Persian literature, and is designed by BJ’s daughter, Romy Fazeli. The artwork features a stylized grapevine symbolizing Fazeli’s “Our Roots Run Deep” motto.

These are just a few of the beautifully designed wine labels from Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country. Not only are the wines carefully and passionately crafted, so are the labels.


Temecula Valley Winegrowers Hall of Fame

Friday, April 29th, 2016

brushed gold

The Temecula Valley Winegrowers were excited to introduce the first Hall of Fame inductees at the 33rd Annual Grape Day conference on April 21, 2016 at South Coast Winery in Temecula, California. The inductees honored were Vincenzo and Audrey Cilurzo, and John Moramarco.

“The recent passing of wine country pioneer Vince Cilurzo prompted the TVWA Board of Directors to consider ways we could honor his memory,” stated Phil Baily, TVWA Board member. “In discussing this, we realized that other pioneers should be recognized, most notably Audrey Cilurzo, because Vince and Audrey partnered in their accomplishments. John Moramorco was unquestionably the key leader of our rise in the 1960s and for the following thirty-plus years.”

Vincenzo and Audrey Cilurzo planted the first commercial wine grape vineyard in the Temecula Valley. They established Cilurzo Vineyard and Winery as one of the first wineries in the Temecula Valley. As husband and wife, they championed the growing of red wine grapes, most notably Petite Sirah. They offered help, encouragement and support to all the wineries that followed them.

John Moramarco planted one of the first commercial wine grape vineyards in the Temecula Valley in 1968 while working for Brookside Winery. In the late 1980s his efforts helped Riverside County create the citrus/vineyard zone which preserved agriculture and laid the foundation for the remarkable growth of wineries over the ensuing years. Moramarco also worked to mobilize Riverside County, the City of Temecula, State and Federal efforts to successfully combat the spread of Pierce’s Disease in Temecula Valley vineyards.

Future inductees will be chosen from submissions that meet specified criteria, which will be announced in the coming months.


Rosés: A Rise in Popularity!

Friday, April 29th, 2016

glasses-of-rose-wineAmerica has fallen in love with rosé wines, one of the fastest growing segments of the US wine market. Popularized in the South of France, rosé is now made in every major wine region around the world, including Southern California’s premier wine region, the Temecula Valley. As a matter of fact, wineries here have been making rosés for decades – Hart Winery made its first blush wine, a Rosé of Grenache, in 1980, the year the winery opened!

From sensuously sweet to classically dry to splendidly sparkling, Temecula Valley wineries deliver a myriad of styles to suit every palate and occasion.

Rosés are created by limiting the amount of time the skins of the grapes are left to sit with the colorless juice, often for only a few hours. This minimal skin contact creates a wide a range of shades, from pale salmon pink, to raspberry through to deeper strawberry hues. The grape variety will also influence the final tone. Thicker skinned varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Cinsault, lend a slightly deeper berry red to the finished wine, while those crafted from more delicate grapes, like Grenache, may have a paler, rose-petal tinge.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that lighter means leaner when it comes to aroma and taste! Paler wines may explode with just as many notes of strawberry, raspberry, watermelon, cranberry, ripe peach and deep citrus as their bolder-colored cousins.

According to Nielsen, sales of rosé wines priced over $11 are up a staggering 60%, accounting for .2% of all table wine, about the same size as the entire US market for the wines of Portugal or South Africa. One reason for the popularity of rosé, besides its easy-drinking, laid-back, relaxed vibe, is its versatility. It’s easy to sip on its own, at the beach or poolside, and it can be the perfect foil for food. No matter the occasion, you’ll find a Temecula Valley rosé that will prove the perfect compliment.

Sparkling rosé is always a wonderful way to start a gathering of any kind. Award-winning South Coast Winery produces four fabulous blush sparklers including their NV Blanc de Noir, a classic dry style, and the popular Ruby Cuveé with a touch of berry-filled sweetness. Not to be outdone, Thornton Winery has been creating sparkling wines for many years and features several sparkling rosés on its extensive list, as do Oak Mountain Winery, Wiens and Wilson Creek wineries. These high-quality blushing bubblies fall in the $19 to $38 price range.

The region of Provence, in the south of France, is the benchmark for traditional, dry, food-friendly rosé. That tradition is alive and well in Temecula, with many of the wineries emulating this classic style, priced at an average of $22.

Hart Winery has a delightful Rosé of Tempranillo, or venture next door and try Callaway Vineyard & Winery’s Rosé of Sangiovese – it’s won a bevy of awards since its initial 2008 vintage. Travel down Rancho California Road and sample Miramonte Winery’s Rosé, made from a blend of typical Mediterranean grape varieties: Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah. Oak Mountain Winery, on the DePortola Trail, produces several variations on the Rosé theme, including their multiple-award-winning 2013 River Rhodes Rosé made with 100% Syrah. Or enjoy a bottle of Vindemia Winery’s Vermeille Grenache 2013, a lovely single-varietal blush wine.

If you crave something sweet or off-dry, you will find yourself spoilt for choice. Why not seek out Pink Crowded rosé at Wiens Famiy Cellars, an off-dry blend of Grenache, Zinfandel and Malbec. Or reach for White Zinfandel or White Merlot at Bel Vino, or relax in the gardens of Europa Village while sipping on a cool, refreshing glass of Garnacha Rosa?

Any of these choices would be stellar matches to a wide range of foods. Dry rosé is fantastic with flavorful appetizers such as tapenade, flatbreads, charcuterie platters, hummus, and soft cheeses like chèvre and brie. When it comes to main courses, pop the cork on another bottle of rosé and enjoy it with pizza, a variety of fish or poultry dishes, salads, light meats like pork or ham, or a good, juicy burger!

Off-dry styles are wonderful with firmer cheeses such as Parmesan and aged gouda. Or sample a sip with a strawberry and spinach salad!

And, of course, there’s always room for dessert, with a glass of sweet style rosé! Pair anything featuring berries, peaches, nectarines or spicy ginger with Irresistable Rosato from Falkner Winery (crafted from Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon) or Sara Bella White Cabernet Sauvignon from Maurice Car’rie Winery.

Temecula Valley vintners are bottling their rosé wines from the fantastic 2015 vintage now, in early 2016. These wines are made to be consumed fresh, upon release. So grab your beach blanket, fire up the grill or unfurl your finest white tablecloth and get ready for a superb sampling of refreshing, scintillating rosé’s from the wineries of Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country.


In Memoriam ~ Vincenzo Cilurzo

Thursday, March 31st, 2016


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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy of Tom Plant and


Welcome New Temecula Wineries!

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

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

avensole4Avensole Winery:

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

Fazeli Profile OrigFazeli Cellars:

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

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