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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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Big Dreamers: Les & Dorian Linkogle, Briar Rose Winery

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

In the second installment of our new blog series “Big Dreamers,” we interview longtime Temecula residents and Briar Rose Winery owners, Les & Dorian Linkogle. Les & Dorian bought their Temecula land in the 1990’s and officially opened Briar Rose Winery in 2007.

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.

Les & Dorian Linkogle, Briar Rose Winery

 

Interview with Winery Owner and Winemaker Les Linkogle 

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

I was retired from my career in investment banking and Dorian retired from a career in the insurance industry.

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

Over twenty years ago, Dorian and I first moved to Temecula to be able to provide open space for our son Larry “Link” Linkogle to ride his motorcycle. Wineries and motorcycles don’t usually have much in common, unless your son is Larry Linkogle. Larry is known as the most influential name in the extreme motocross industry. We planted grapes to off-set the high cost of water never knowing how ideal the growing conditions were in the Temecula Valley for growing grapes.

We began selling some of our grapes to local wineries – and when their wines started winning awards then our family considered opening a winery of our own. My uncle owned a winery in Napa and I spent many summers and holidays working at that winery where I developed a love for the art and science of wine making.

I made my first wine in 1997. From 2002 until 2007, we worked towards making our dream a reality. In 2007 we opened the Briar Rose Winery, Temecula’s first boutique reservation-only winery.

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

My expectations were right on. Wine making is my passion. From the first bud break on the vines in spring until the harvest in the fall, I look forward with anticipation to what each vintage year will produce. I knew it would be very hard work. But, when you put your name on that bottle, it’s worth every moment of it. I will say the aspect I did not expect was meeting some of the most wonderful people in the world; and for that I am so thankful.

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

In my opinion, in spite of the incredibly hard, back-breaking work in all conditions of the year – I do find winemaking glamorous. I look at each year as a fresh canvas and the wine I make is my art. Wine also has a certain prestige, sort of like royalty. It is precious fruit of the earth; and taking that fruit and turning it into world-class wine is about as glamorous as it gets. Briar Rose wines have taken me into the presence of two Presidents of the United States, an invitation to the home of the Vice President, numerous senators and politicians, movie stars and even the Playboy Mansion.

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

I enjoy almost every aspect of running the winery… except cleaning the equipment and dealing with all the regulatory paperwork. Winemaking is my passion so that’s absolutely what I enjoy the most; it’s what gets me up in the morning.

Les, can you tell us about your position as Wine Institute Representative for Temecula Valley, CA?

It is an honor to have been elected to District Director of the Wine Institute. The Wine Institute is the voice for California wine representing more than 1,000 wineries from the beautiful and diverse wine regions throughout the state. As the largest advocacy and public policy association for California wine, and the only group representing the industry at the state, federal and international levels, the Wine Institute’s Officers, Board of Directors and staff work to create an environment where the wine community can flourish and contribute in a positive fashion to our nation, state and local communities. They are the behind the scenes “unsung heros” of our industry – and I’m grateful to be a part of it.

 

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

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http://visitcalifornia.com/dream365

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Big Dreamers: Nick & Cindy Palumbo, Palumbo Family Vineyard & Winery

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Welcome to our new blog series: “Big Dreamers.”

Here you’ll read about the inspiring true stories of 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.

Nick & Cindy Palumbo have owned and operated Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery since 1998.

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

NICK:  I have done A LOT! I was an ocean lifeguard, a rock star in NYC, a chef and now – winemaker.

CINDY:  I was an insurance agent for 15 years prior to the winery.

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

NICK: I was just coming back to SoCal after time in NY and lucked into this emerging Valley.  I saw potential for better wine and vineyard quality than what was here before, so I took charge.

CINDY:  I was already living in Temecula Valley and met Nick after he purchased the vineyards. A few years later I encouraged him to turn the garage into a winery, to quit selling his fruit to other winemakers and to open up his own shop.

3.  What were your expectations of the winemaker lifestyle at the beginning?  Were they way off or right on?

NICK:  I only expected to have to work really hard.  I wanted to prove it could be done through hard work and sacrifice. I certainly didn’t expect to make any money at it. I was right! I knew what I wanted – and the rewards for making quality wine would come if I just kept my head down and proved it though doing it.

CINDY:  I had zero expectations of the lifestyle – and that’s probably a good thing. It’s not nearly as glamorous as most people think – but I wouldn’t change it!

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

NICK:  If you’re an authentic winemaker, the glamorous parts come when no one is looking. It’s a lifestyle that you can’t pretend to live. Working hard, raising children and farming for quality is the reward… not what people see in the magazines.

CINDY:  There are definitely some glamorous sides to the wine industry. Nick is so down-to-earth and he takes winemaking so seriously that we don’t really experience that side of it in our lives. A true winemaker is focused on just that – making good wine.

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

NICK: There really is no part of what I do that is worse or better. If you love what you do for a living, then it’s all good!

CINDY:   Least favorite thing about owning a winery is probably the fact that we can never get away from it. We live there, we sleep there, we work there, we are raising our family there; it’s always our focus. Sometimes I think it would be nice to just be able to work 9 to 5 and leave the office at the office. My favorite part about it is the lifestyle. We live in the middle of a vineyard, we raise our own animals, our (four) kids get to grow up see what we make with our hands. Winemaking in Temecula is truly a labor of love that we are allowed to include our whole family in.

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

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http://visitcalifornia.com/dream365

Subscribe to VisitCA channel:
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