Posts Tagged ‘Monte de Oro Winery’

Wine Country Recipe ~ Pork Tacos with Garlic Grilled Tortillas and Avocado Cream

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

2016_1_PORK_TACOS_WINEc-California-Wine-InstituteServes 4

These lightly grilled tortillas are topped with spicy, smoky seasoned pork and creamy avocado. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Viognier or Zinfandel.


Avocado Cream:

1 large avocado, halved and pitted
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped green onion, white parts only
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon minced serrano (chile) pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt

Pork and tortillas:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano, crushed
2 teaspoons minced garlic
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon sea salt
3 boneless pork loin chops (about 1¼ pounds) 1 inch thick, each cut horizontally into 3 very thin even pieces
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic
8 (7-inch) corn tortillas
3 cups thinly sliced red cabbage


To make the avocado cream, Scoop the avocado flesh into a food processor with the sour cream, lime juice, onion, cilantro and serrano pepper, and salt. Process until smooth. Set aside.

To prepare the pork, whisk the olive oil, chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl.

Add the pork slices and turn them to coat all sides. Set aside.

Add the vegetable oil to a small skillet over medium heat. Add the 3 tablespoons garlic and stir just until the garlic starts to sizzle. Remove from heat, leave in the skillet and set aside (for the tortillas).

Preheat a grill to medium-high.

Grill the pork slices for 2 minutes on each side or until cooked through.

Stack the pork in a bowl and cover to keep warm.

To warm the tortillas, brush one side of each tortilla with garlic oil. Grill oil-side down for 1 minute or until warmed through. Stack tortillas on a plate, oil-side up.

Cut the pork into strips ¼-inch wide.

To serve, top each tortilla with pork strips, avocado cream, and shredded cabbage.

Suggested Pairings:

Monte De Oro Viognier 2014, $23: Medium-bodied wine offering a nice balance taste of ripe stone fruits (peach, nectarine, apricot), tropical fruits (passion fruit, mango, cantaloupe, pineapple) and white and yellow melons.

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.

Callaway Winery Zinfandel 2013, $34: Big notes of jammy wild strawberries and dried cranberry match the deep purple red color of this fragrant Zinfandel.

Danza del Sol Zinfandel 2011, $26: Deep aromas of chocolate, currants, and raisins lead to soft, juicy flavors of black cherry.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California


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.


Summer Wine Pairing Guide

Friday, July 1st, 2016

Wine glasses on picnic table --- Image by © Laura Doss/Corbis

Ah, the sizzle of summer is upon us. Whether you’re spending your hot summer days and long summer nights relaxing at the beach, chowing down at a backyard barbecue, or picnicking in the park under a shady oak tree, these cool and crisp whites, rosés and sparkling wines will please every palate. All of these wines can be purchased online or in the tasting rooms, so choose your favorites this week! Here’s our guide to beating the heat in the most delicious way:

Lorimar Winery 2014 Chardonnay – Crisp, tart green apple, Bartlett pears and honey suckle with a medium length finish.
Monte de Oro 2014 Pinot Gris –Wine opens up with peach and apricot flavors couples with pears, lemon/lime, guava and kiwi accents.
Briar Rose Winery Citronier– Aromas of exotic fruit with a brilliant lemon flavor. Sure to bring a smile to every summer celebration

Oak Mountain Winery 2015 White Merlot – Sweet cherry and raspberry aromas characterize this wine. Soft, round, juicy cherry and berry flavors form structure and a full, rich texture.
Robert Renzoni Vineyards 2014 La Rosa (Rosé of Sangiovese) –Light strawberry citrus flavors are layered with hints of cranberry, passion & tropical fruit, and a hint of pink grapefruit.
Falkner Winery 2014 Irresistible Rosato –This semi-dry white wine tastes of ripe pear, cinnamon, apple pie, and spice.

Wilson Creek Grand Cuvee Sparkling Wine –Light and refreshing, and very fun. Great in Mimosas! A fun party sparkling wine.
Maurice Car’rie & Van Roekel Winery Pomegranate Sparkling Wine– This lively refreshing California Sparkling Wine is bursting with refreshing flavors of pomegranate – a perfect accompaniment to your summer picnic basket.
South Coast Winery Resort & Spa Pinot Grigio Sparkling – Finished as a “Brut” this is a Pinot Grigio with wonderful nuances of pears and apples, a touch of tropical fruitiness and crisp acidity.

Image by © Laura Doss/Corbis


February Winery Events

Friday, January 29th, 2016

valentines-wineFebruary is filled with some memorable dates; we can’t wait to see if the groundhog will see his shadow on February 2nd, and we’re busily planning our Valentine’s Day celebrations. But, did you know that February 18th is National Drink Wine Day? Can’t think of a better reason to visit Temecula Valley Wine Country this month!

Baily Vineyard & Winery

Romantic Valentine Candlelight Tasting for 2 / Feb. 11th – 14th / 11:30am -3:30pm; Seating every hour / $35 pp / Special Cabernet Sauvignon and port tasting, charcuterie and chocolate plate for 2 / Seating is extremely limited, call today for reservation 951.972.9768 at Baily Estate Tasting Room.

Valentine’s Day Lunch at Carol’s Restaurant / Feb. 13th & 14th / 11:30am-3:30pm / Celebrate Valentine’s Day at lunch and forget the dinner crowd with a relaxing three course lunch. Live Music with Chuck Sacayan on Saturday John Malcolm Penn on Sunday / $29.95 pp. plus tax and gratuity / Reservations only with credit card / For reservations please call 951. 676.9243

Dog Day Sundays
Every Sunday / 11:30a-2:30p / Bring your well-mannered pooch to lunch, doggie treats and special menu items / Doggie costume contest on Nov. 1st / Live acoustic music on the patio.

Estate Club Private Wine Tasting
Thursday-Sunday / 11:00a-2:30p / Tours and vertical tasting of library wines. Sit down with bread and cheese plate; $30 (Reservations required 24 hours in advance) / Bar Tasting; $20. Call for reservations: 951-972-9768.

Bel Vino Winery

Karaoke Night / Every Saturday 6p-9p / Free admission / Karaoke every Saturday night at Bel Vino Winery in the Barrel Room / Happy Hour from 6pm-7pm; Half off wine and beer and open kitchen.
Live Music / Saturday 12pm – 4pm / Sunday 11am-3pm

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

Valentine’s Day Dinner at Meritage Restaurant / Feb. 13th – 14th / Two seating’s each day, 5pm and 7:30pm / $150 per couple / Enjoy a 3-course wine-paired menu with roses for the ladies and live music / For reservations please visit

Sweetheart Flights / Feb. 13th & 14th / Couples wine tasting from 11am-4pm / $35 per couple /
Live Music at the Winery Tasting Room / 1pm – 4pm / No charge / Enjoy live music in the main tasting room /

Happiest Hours / Friday’s from 3:00p-6:00p in the lounge at Meritage at Callaway / Grab your friends and join us for a marvelous time! 20% all tapas, 20% off bottles of Callaway wines and available domestic, import and craft beers.

Sangria Sundays at Meritage at Callaway / Every Sunday at Meritage at Callaway / 4pm-8pm/ Enjoy sipping on our very own Watermelon Sangria while soaking in the sunset vineyard views in our main dining room. Live music from local musicians begins at 6pm / No cover charge / Reservations for parties of 5 or more are required.

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

9TH Annual Super Chili Bowl / Feb. 7th / 3pm-8pm / Join us for chili tasting, food, wine, beer and football on the super BIG screen. Chili competition kicks off at 3pm. Only 10 competitors allowed. Official rules apply, must pay in advance to reserve competitor spots / $15 pp for competitors, $25 for wine club, $30 for non-wine club. Price increases by $5 the day of the event / For tickets please email or call 951.491.0825

Friday Night Live Music / 5pm-8pm / Wine by the glass or bottle purchase available / Deli is open until 7pm

Sunday Afternoon Live Music / 2pm- 5pm

Europa Village

Friday Night Entertainment / 5:30p- 8:30p / Free / Live music in the Cave / Feb. 5th – Shoot for Tuesday / Feb. 12th – Two Fish / Feb. 19th – Apryle Dalmacio / Feb. 26th – Danielle Taylor

Live Music every Sunday/ 1pm- 4pm / Free / Live music on Veranda / Feb. 7th – Bryan McManus / Feb. 14th- Jimmy Patton / Feb. 21st – Michael LeClerc / Feb. 28th – Joe Baldino

Falkner Winery

Valentine’s Lunch Special for 2 at the Pinnacle Restaurant / Feb. 12 & 14th / $59 for two, plus tax / For full menu please visit / Reservations required at 951.676.8231 option 4

Valentine’s Dinner at the Pinnacle Restaurant / Saturday, Feb. 13th, $99 plus tax per person; $89 plus tax for Wine Club / Sunday, Feb. 14th, $115 plus tax per person; $104 plus tax for Wine Club / For full menu please visit / Entertainment provided by Classical pianist Thomas Reich / Reservations required at 951.676.8231 option 4

Wine Appreciation Class / Saturday, Feb. 20th / 10:00am-12:30pm / Designated for all levels of wine knowledge / $45pp; $40pp Connoisseur; $20pp VIP; $70pp with lunch / Reservations required 951.676.8231 x.109.

Lorimar Vineyards & Winery

Singles Mix & Mingle / Feb. 11th / 7pm-9pm / Lorimar Winery is hosting its first Single’s Mix & Mingle night. Join us for a night of fun and flirtation in Wine Country / Tickets include light appetizers and a glass of premium wine. Tickets are pre-sale only! / Cost is $15 / Call 951.694.6699 or visit our website at

Valentines Day Brunch / Feb. 14th / 10am-1pm / Breakfast for two? Lorimar is hosting a breakfast buffet on the Sunset Patio, which will be exclusively for lovebirds! Breakfast starts at 10:00am and the Sunset Patio will remain exclusive until 1:00pm / $35 per person includes breakfast and mimosas. Wine Club members received 10% off ticket price / Call 951.694.6699 ext. 4 for tickets or visit our website at

Leoness Cellars

Live Music at The Restaurant at Leoness / Every Friday & Saturday from 5pm-8pm / Free to the public

Live Music in the Barrel Room / Every Sunday from 1p-4:00p / Free to the public

1963 Winemaker’s Soirée / Feb. 11th / 6pm – 10pm / Cocktail & hors d’oevres, 5 course wine paired dinner, big band entertainment. Come dressed in your 1960’s best! / $100, $90 Wine Club / Reserved seating, call for reservations 951.302.7601 ext.1

The Restaurant at Leoness / Extended Restaurant hours 11am – 8pm, Sunday, February 14th / Special Prefixed 4 course dinner menu being offered for February 14th only. Seasonal February menu will also be available / For menu information and reservations please call 951.302.7601 ext.1 or visit

Miramonte Winery

Valentine, an intimate affair Dinner / Feb. 14th / 7pm-9pm / Our most popular dinner of the year! Hosted by Cane & Becky. Expect live musical accompaniment, endless shimmering candlelight, Dom Perignon Champagne reception, 3 courses of fine cuisine, and a remarkable, personalized etched wine commemorating your evening with us. Cane will present the wines of the evening, including barrel samples of the next vintage Opulente and Estate Syrah. It’s always an amazing night and we’d love for you to join us / Seating is very limited; tickets are $120pp for general public, $100pp for club members. Tickets are currently available to Wine Club only until Monday, and then the event is open to the public / Please visit to reserve.

Live Music & Entertainment / 7pm-10pm / Feb. 5th – Mercedes Moore / Feb. 6th- Devocean / Feb. 12th- Ruben V / Feb. 13th- Bluefish / Feb. 19th- Mickie Arnett / Feb. 20th- Nathan James / Feb. 26th- Midnight Satellites / Feb. 27th- JD Priest

Monte De Oro Winery

Syrah Blind Tasting / February 5th / Reception 6pm; Tasting at 6:30pm / Come taste, compare and contrast up to 10 different Syrah at Monte De Oro. Which one is from France? From Oregon, from Paso? From Temecula Valley? All wines hidden in brown bags – we open them at the end and see the results. / Price$58.00. Wine Club Members $52.00 / Includes 2 appetizer courses and a dessert course / Reservations required at / Subject to minimum participation of 24 guests

Valentines Day Dinner / Feb. 13th and Feb. 14th / Doors open at 7pm. Dinner at 7:30pm / 2 seating’s available / Enjoy a special 5 course meal paired with Monte De Oro’s award-winning wines with your partner and accompanied with live music and dancing. / Price: $150 per couple/$140 for Wine Club members / Reservations strongly suggested at

Divas Half Marathon / Saturday, February 20th. / Starts at 7:30am / Includes complimentary wine tasting / To register visit

Mount Palomar Winery

5K Kiss Wine Run / Feb. 6th / 10am-1pm / The annual 5K Kiss Wine Run takes place in the beautiful vineyards of Mount Palomar Winery in Temecula, CA on a scenic, point-to-point course. It starts on the hills of the beautiful Vineyards of Mount Palomar Winery and proceeds to continue on to more amazing views of their spectacular vineyards. You will have live performance by the 80z All Stars, as seen at Disneyland, motivating you to cross the finish line along with those tastings of wine that are waiting for you! Each finisher will receive a 5KHR Mount Palomar Winery Finishers commemorative stemless wine glass. There are also medals for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, as well as best costume. Register online at

Valentine’s Day Dinner / February 13th and 14th / Enjoy a romantic, four course dinner for two at the newly opened Annata Bistro/Bar. Dinner includes an appetizer, soup or a salad, two entrees, and a dessert to share, plus a bottle of wine, for $120 per couple. Wine club members pay $100 per couple! The full menu and restaurant hours are available online at / Reservations only. Please call 951-676-5047 ext.10

Paint Nite / February 28th / Two hour class. Time TBA / Raise your glass to a NEW kind of night out! Paint Nite invites you to create art over a glass of wine at Mount Palomar Winery, guided by a professional artist and party host. Grab your friends and your sense of humor 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!).”Drink Creatively” in the Barrel Room (with our own bar…ooooh yeah) at Mt Palomar Winery / Online details at

Oak Mountain Winery

Grand Opening Weekend Tours at The Cave at Oak Mountain / Feb. 13th- 14th / Explorer Tour, $15 / 30 minutes duration / Start your adventure in the Main Tasting room followed by a tour of the grounds and our 10,000 sq. ft. underground wine Cave while sipping on three great wines / Foodie Tour, $55 / 45 minutes duration / Tour includes gourmet grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of soup from our Cave Café to enjoy after your tour and one bottle of any of our white wines / For information and reservations please call 951.699.9102

Valentine’s Day Dinner Celebration / Feb. 14th / 6pm-9pm / Join our owners, Steve & Valerie at Oak Mountain Winery for a Valentine’s Day celebration dinner. Enjoy great food, wine and music by Sterling Productions / $125 per person, plus tax; $110 per person, plus tax for Wine Club Members / For menu information and reservations please call 951.699.9102 or email / Reservations are required; tickets are non-refundable 3 days prior to event date.

Live Music in the Pavilion
Every Saturday and Sunday in November / 1:00p-5:00p

Ponte Family Estate Winery

Super Bowl Sunday in The Cellar / Feb. 7th / 3:30pm / Temecula Wine Country’s only cocktail bar, The Cellar Lounge at Ponte Vineyard Inn, will air live NFL coverage of Super Bowl 50! / Free to attend.

Valentine’s Day Barrel Room Dinner / Feb. 14th / 5pm-8pm / Treat your sweetheart to a romantic dinner in the Barrel Room this Valentine’s Day! Enjoy a special menu of gourmet fare fit for two while dining to the sounds of live Spanish Guitar / Cost varies. For menu information and reservations please call 951.252.1770.

First Sundays – Live Music in the Reserve Room*
First Sunday of the month/ 12:00p-4:00p / The Lookouts, Classic Rock / The Reserve Room will host a variety of live musical artists the first Sunday of each month in 2015. *The Reserve Room is a tasting room for wine club members only. Join the Wine Club and enjoy complimentary tastings in our exclusive venue.

Live Music in The Cellar Lounge / Every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday / 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

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa

Pre-Valentine’s Day Dinner at the Vineyard Rose / Feb. 1-3rd, 8-10th, 15-17th / 5:30p-9:00p / $99 per couple, plus tax & gratuity / Celebrate the season of Love. It’s Valentine Month in the Vineyard Rose Restaurant. Why wait to celebrate? Say those 3 special words with a three courses. Includes one glass of select wine per person. / Reservations recommended. Call 951.587.9463 ext. 7230

Valentine’s Day Dinner at the Vineyard Rose / Feb. 14th / 5:30-9:30pm / The Vineyard Rose Restaurant presents the 3rd Annual Wine & Dine your Valentine. Includes a bottle of South Coast wine per couple / $119 per person plus tax & gratuity / Reservations required. Please call 951.497.8077
Live entertainment at the Vineyard Rose / Friday and Saturday nights for the month of February / 6:00-9:00pm

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.

Behind the Scenes Wine Tours
Tours are held daily at 11 AM, 1 PM and 3PM, Monday through Sunday. $40pp / $35pp Wine Club Member. 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.


Wine Country Recipe ~ Asian Pork Shoulder Stew with Anise

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016


Fragrant anise adds a subtle sweetness to this warming stew. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Zinfandel or Pinot Gris.


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch (2.5cm) cubes
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into 4 wedges
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
3½ cups chicken stock
1 whole star anise pod
1 large sweet potato (about 1½ pounds) peeled, cut into 1-inch-thick rounds, each cut into 4 wedges
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into ¼-inch-thick rounds
3 tablespoons flour, mixed with 3 tablespoons cold water
soy sauce


Heat the vegetable oil in a wide 5- to 6-quart pot over medium heat until hot but not smoking.

Add the pork and brown for 3 minutes on each side. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger; cook and stir for 3 minutes.

Add the chicken stock and anise. Turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 2 hours.

Add the potatoes and carrots. Uncover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in the flour-and-water mixture and simmer for 10 minutes.

To serve, divide the stew among 4 to 6 bowls. Pass soy sauce at the table.

Suggested Pairings:

Danza del Sol Winery ~ 2014 Pinot Grigio – Aromas of honeysuckle and juicy pears with a hint of citrus lead into flavors of bright melon with a balanced, crisp acidity.

Leoness Cellars ~ 2013 Zinfandel – Rich and full-bodied, this wine offers aromas and flavors of sweet blackberry and plum with hints of spice and black licorice framed by soft tannins and a long, silky finish.

Maurice Car’rie Vineyard & Winery ~ 2012 Zinfandel – Aromas of raspberry jam, Red Delicious apples and finishes off with toasted black pepper.

Monte De Oro Winery ~ 2014 Pinot Gris – Off-dry-to-dry, medium-bodied wine with a nice balance of acidity, alcohol and flavor.

Recipe courtesy of the Wine Institute of California


Thanksgiving Wine Pairing Guide

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

thanksgiving-wine-horizWho’s as obsessed with Thanksgiving as we are?  The turkey, the trimmings, the pumpkin pie and the WINE!

This is the time of year we get the most questions about wine pairings.  While there is no “right” or “wrong” wine to pair with your feast, there are a few varietals that, if paired with your favorite dishes, will send your taste buds into sensory overload.  We’re reprising this “oldie but goodie” Thanksgiving wine guide and have updated it with some suggested pairings to try this year.

Light Appetizers + Mellow Whites

These mellow whites pair well with lighter dishes to kick off your Thanksgiving meal. The floral notes of a Viognier complement a fall salad of pears, blue cheese and walnuts; a selection of fruit and cheeses match nicely with a Chardonnay; and a light Pinot Grigio will pair well with your pumpkin soup.

Callaway Vineyard & Winery – 2011 Chardonnay; $30.00

Danza Del Sol Winery – 2014 Pinot Grigio; $28.00

Briar Rose Winery – 2014 Estate Viognier; $25.00

Herbacious Side Dishes + Spicy Reds

The spicy notes derived from these unique wine grapes pair especially well with stuffing and gravies seasoned with holiday herbs like sage, thyme and rosemary. Having a vegetarian Thanksgiving? These wines work well with earthy mushroom and winter squash dishes too!

Cougar Vineyard & Winery – 2012 Sangiovese; $31.00

Leoness Cellars – 2012 Zinfandel; $39.00

Doffo Winery – 2010 Syrah; $52.00

Poultry & Meats + Bold Reds

Whether it’s wine or food, everyone looks forward to the main course. The dark fruit flavors in these big reds will enhance similar flavors in your herb-rubbed turkey or peppered roasts. Whether you’re serving poultry, lamb or beef, all three are bold enough to stand up to a rich meat course.

Baily Vineyard & Winery – 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon; $30.00

Monte De Oro Winery – 2010 Merlot; $32.00

Wiens Family Cellars – 2013 Tempranillo; $42.00

Dessert + Sweet Wines

Your Thanksgiving meal isn’t complete without dessert, and no dessert is complete without wine – at least that’s how we feel! Apple pies and pear tarts are practically made to pair with a sweet Moscato, where red delicious apples, kiwi, pears, and apricots come together nicely with honeysuckle and jasmine undertones. Oak Mountain’s Port has a nutty honeyed flavor to perfectly complement the nutmeg and allspice flavors of pumpkin pie.

Oak Mountain Winery – Port; $28.00

Miramonte Winery – 2014 Moscato; $25.95

Robert Renzoni – Paradiso Port; $49.00

One Meal, One Wine

On a wine-buying budget? Or just looking to simplify your evening by serving one wine from start to finish? Any of these three, well-priced wines fit the bill. Each is lighter on the palate, with only subtle hints of sweetness making them suitable to drink from appetizers all the way to dessert. Bon appetit!

Maurice Car’rie Vineyard & Winery – 2012 Chenin Blanc; $19.95

Falkner Winery – 2014 Sauvignon Blanc; $19.95

South Coast Winery – Ruby Cuvee; $22.00


Temecula Valley Winery Owners Tell All! Their “Family Favorites.”

Thursday, October 1st, 2015


Have you ever wondered which wine is a “family favorite” at your favorite Temecula Valley winery?  We have too…so, we decided to ask a few of our winery owners which of their wines is their favorite….and, why.  Of course, we knew that asking them this question would be much like asking parents of multiple children which is their favorite, but we thought we’d give it a whirl!

Nick Palumbo, owner of Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery says that he and wife Cindy’s fave is the “Tre Fratelli” Meritage blend.  As Nick tells it, not only is this wine consistently very good, but it’s got sentimental value for the Palumbo Family as well.  It is one of the first blended wines they produced in 2002 when Palumbo Winery opened and takes its name “three brothers” from the 3 boys of the Palumbo Family. The current release 2012, is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc.

The Lin Family, owners of Callaway Vineyard & Winery, have a brand new favorite wine. They challenged their winemaker, Craig Larson, to pull out all the stops and “do whatever it took, with no cost restrictions” to create a Cabernet Sauvignon that reflects their dedication and passion to bring the best quality wine in all of Temecula Valley and California.  What came of this challenge is the OPR, the Owner’s Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, which the Lins believe has captured the very essence of everything they envisioned.

Over at Oak Mountain Winery, owners Steve and Valerie Andrews’ favorite is their Tenacious.  This wine is a Syrah-heavy Rhone blend named after Valerie’s mother who passed away over 25 years ago.  Val says “my mother, Arlene was tenacious in everything she did, and she did plenty.  Her license plate on her car was Ten8shs.  Whether she was working in the family liquor store, volunteering at the hospital, battling cancer or just being a great mom and friend, she was tenacious.  My parents introduced the wine industry to Steve and I, and look what happened!  Sorry to say, the wine is so good we drank it all…but a new vintage is coming soon.”

Monte De Oro Winery’s Ken Zignorski is passionate about their Syrah.  For him, it’s all about how well it pairs with food. Ken says “I like pairing the Syrah with a nice ribeye steak or tri-tip on the grill.  It’s got a full-bodied, mellow and a nice, lasting finish for me.  And, I think that Syrah is one of those grapes that really demonstrates Temecula Valley’s capabilities as a wine region.”

Rick & Jennifer Buffington, owners of Cougar Vineyard & Winery, lists Aglianico as their family favorite.  A black grape grown in the southern regions of Italy, it originated in Greece and was brought to the south of Italy by Greek settlers. Although it’s not a popular wine amongst the Temecula wineries, it is one that the Buffington family is proud to offer since it isn’t widely available and is very unique.  They appreciate the wine’s complexity, high acidity, firm tannins, rich flavor and its ability to pair well with food.  Plus….it only gets better with age!

At Briar Rose Winery, owners Les & Dorian Linkogle didn’t hesitate when it came to their favorite wine.  Sacrament is a rare and historic Mission Wine.  The Mission Wine is made from the Mission Grape planted by Father Junipero Serra to use for the Sacrament of Communion as he established 9 California missions from 1769-1782.  These Mission Grapes, also known as the Heritage Grape of the State of California, were planted along the El Camino Real by the Founder of California Missions.

Well, it’s safe to say that our owners love their Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and red blends!  So, what is your favorite Temecula Valley wine….and why??


Wine Country Recipe ~ Curried Butternut Squash Soup Shots

Monday, September 28th, 2015


This modern shot-glass style serving puts a new spin on this traditional smooth and piquant autumn soup. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Merlot or Pinot Grigio.


1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
4 sprigs of thyme
2 tablespoons curry powder, divided
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups vegetable stock, warmed
1/3 cup heavy cream (extra for garnish)
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350 F. (190 C.)

In a large bowl toss together the squash, onions, garlic, thyme, 1 tablespoon (15ml) of the curry powder, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the squash mixture onto a baking sheet and roast for about 45 minutes.

Discard the thyme sprig and pour the mixture into a blender along with the warmed stock and puree until smooth. (Do this in two batches). Pour the pureed soup into a medium saucepan simmer and stir in the remaining curry powder, and cumin. Simmer the soup for 7 to 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in the cream until fully combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve by pouring soup into 24 small glasses or espresso cups. Garnish with a few drops of heavy cream.

Suggested Pairings:

Bel Vino Winery – 2012 Merlot ~This vintage presents deep, dense aromas of plum, licorice and vanilla with flavors of dark fruit, cloves and maple.

Carter Estate Winery – 2012 Merlot ~ Blueberries and rose petals mingle with a rich chocolate, coffee earthiness, lightly tinged with a pretty herbal note that is warmed with French oak.

Europa Village – 2014 Estate Pinot Grigio ~ Ripe Asian pears and lemon cream on the nose, the full body warmth is elegantly balanced by a lingering acidity.

Monte De Oro Winery – 2013 Pinot Grigio ~ Medium intensity aromas of pears, lemons, apples, and peaches with accents of honeysuckle, white flowers and honey.

Recipe courtesy of the Wine Institute of California


Celebrate Mother’s Day in Wine Country!

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

TheMothers Day 2 ancient Greeks paid annual homage to Cybele, the mother figure of their gods, the Romans dedicated an annual spring festival to the mother of their gods, and in 16th century England, a celebration called “Mothering Sunday” was inaugurated — a Sunday set aside for visiting one’s mother.  When President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill back in 1914 designating the second Sunday in May as a legal holiday to be called “Mother’s Day”, he dedicated the day “to the best mother in the world, your mother.”

Show your Mom how special she is!  Lunch, brunch, dinner – or just a day of wine tasting – is surely one way to get on her good side.  And remember, you’re the reason she drinks wine in the first place…

Here’s just a few ideas for spending Mother’s Day in Temecula Valley Wine Country:

If brunch suits your fancy, you’ve got lots of options!  Try Carol’s at Baily Winery; 11a-3p, Bel Vino Winery; 9a-3p, Danza del Sol Winery; 10a or 1p, Doffo Winery; 10a or 12:30p, Frangipani Winery; 11a-3p, Monte de Oro Winery; 10a or 12:30p, South Coast Winery Resort & Spa; 10a – 3p, Thornton Winery; 11a-4p, Wiens Family Cellars; 11a-1p, Wilson Creek Winery; 10a-3p.

Lunch and Dinner will both be served at Meritage Restaurant at Callaway Vineyard & Winery from 10a-8p.

And if you’ve always wanted to Learn To Paint, Oak Mountain Winery is offering a fun alternative to the usual at 1p.

All of our wineries will be open and ready to see you.  Happy Mothers Day, all!


The Merry, Merry Month of May!

Monday, April 27th, 2015

May 25 _Natl Wine DayMay has so many national “wine days”, we can eat, drink and be merry all month long!  Along with Chardonnay, a familiar favorite, it’s a great excuse for you to try a couple of the lesser-known varietals like Muscat Canelli and Sauvignon Blanc – all of which grow well here in the Temecula Valley.

First up on the calendar is #MoscatoDay, which falls on May 9th.  The day was introduced here in the US by Gallo Family Vineyards back in 2012 to celebrate the rising popularity and sky-rocketing sales of the varietal.  If you know nothing about Moscato (or Muscat/Muscat Canelli), it originated in the Piedmont region of Italy where it’s a favorite due to its sweetness, lightness and affordability – and is popular as a sparkling wine. You’ll find Moscato table wines in white, red or rosé styles, and they make an especially delicious dessert wine.  With it’s bouquet of peach, honey and citrus, a delicate sweetness and fresh acidity, it’s perfect served with a plate of fresh cheeses.

Try the Muscat Canelli from Leoness Cellars or Lorimar Winery; or the Moscato from Ponte Family Estate Winery.

May 15th is #InternationalSauvignonBlancDay.  Originating in the Bordeaux region of France, the grape is also widely planted throughout New Zealand – and grows with ease here in the Temecula Valley.  An acidic wine that displays a citrus-y, grapefruit-like quality, it’s a pleasing choice for a warm summer day. A very versatile vino, Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with shell fish, grilled vegetables (even asparagus!) and cheeses.  It’s the perfect picnic wine!

A few faves include those from:  Europa Village , Maurice Car’rie Winery or Monte de Oro Winery.

And then there’s the day to pay homage to the old standby, Chardonnay, on #ChardonnayDay, May 21st.  The world’s most planted white wine grape varietal is enjoyed by fans all over the world.  Generally dry to medium-dry with pear, apple, tropical or citrus fruit flavors, Chardonnay is grown in virtually every wine-producing region.  Crisp and fresh with little to no oak aging, or creamy and buttery with extensive oak aging, there’s a Chardonnay out there that will make just about anyone smile!

Can’t live without Chardonnay’s are available at: Callaway Vineyard & Winery, Oak Mountain Winery and Thornton Winery.

Finishing out the month is #NationalWineDay, which is celebrated on May 25.  Not to be confused with National Drink Wine Day which is held in February, National Wine Day is actually just another lame excuse for us wine lovers to drink wine.  Because for wine lovers, everyday is wine day, right?  Cheers!

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