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Big Dreamers: Mike Rennie & Gary Winder, Leoness Cellars

Monday, April 28th, 2014

In the third installment of our new blog series “Big Dreamers,” we interview veteran wine experts and longtime partners Mike Rennie and Gary Winder, owners of Leoness Cellars on De Portola Road in Temecula Valley. When Mike and Gary founded their winery in 2003, they chose the name Leoness Cellars, which means “village of dreams” in Gaelic.

Farming citrus and avocados in the region as far back as the 1970’s, Gary teamed with up with fellow farmer and friend Mike to begin their viticulture journey in 1990.  They opened the first version of the tasting room in 2003 and the upgraded edition in 2006.  Now one of the most beloved and picturesque wineries in Temecula Valley, Leoness focuses on top quality wines, sustainable practices in the vineyards and first-class service in their tasting room and restaurant.

Photo Credit: Touring & Tasting

Check in every month where we feature a new interview with our Temecula Valley winemakers and winery owners. You’ll learn where they’ve come from before settling in Temecula, CA – and what keeps them passionate about the sometimes not-so-glamorous art (and science) of making good wine in California.

Interview with Winery Owner and Winemaker Mike Rennie, Leoness Cellars

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

Gary Winder and I have been farming in Temecula for many years. We farm not only wine grapes but citrus and avocados. This harvest will be Gary’s 64th.

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

Most wineries come from farming families. We truly wanted to taste the fruits of our labors so Leoness came about. And we wanted the world to know that Temecula Valley and the South Coastal region are as good as anywhere in the world to farm premium wine grapes.

 

3.  What were your expectations of the winemaker lifestyle at the beginning?

We didn’t have too many allusions of grandeur. As hard working farmers and having been around the industry for decades we knew the back side, so to speak. It all adds up to hard work, quality control and a lot of sweat.

 

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

There is a glamour side to wine. There is the romance that goes along with fine wine, great food and times with those you love. We love sharing these things with friends and wine club members. It still comes down to working in the dirt and hot sun, and attention to detail to grow the finest premium wine grapes. Great wine starts in the vineyard.

 

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

My least favorite thing is when things don’t go right in our customer service area. We know there is no perfection, but that is what we attain to. When for some reason we miss the mark, it’s disappointing. What makes us the happiest is when we can share the perfect wine experience with our guests.

 

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

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http://visitcalifornia.com/dream365

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