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Temecula Valley Sparkling Wines for the Holidays

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

As the holiday season approaches, wine lovers will be searching for wines that complement holiday dinners and can please a wide array of palates. Whether it’s a small gathering or a large soiree, Temecula Valley sparkling wines offer something for every wine personality. Sparkling wines are ideal for special occasions, and as the holidays approach, we’ve asked our winemakers which are their favorites that will work well for holiday entertaining and gift-giving.

Thornton Non-Vintage Brut

A blend of primarily Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which gives the wine an exciting, crisp fruit character while taking on a clean and straight forward yeast flavor from the lengthy tirage time of 28 months using the méthode champenoise process. The addition of a small amount of Pinot Noir helps to round out the wine, giving it complexity and uniting the white varietals. The Thornton NV Brut has a lot of finesse along with apple, pear and tropical aromas, which meld with toasty yeast flavors, while the finish is long and creamy. $33 Bottle

South Coast Winery Sparkling Pinot Grigio

This sparkling Pinot Grigio is worlds apart from what is normally expected with this style of dry white wine. Finished as a “Brut” this is a Pinot Grigio with wonderful nuances of pears and apples, a touch of tropical fruitiness and crisp acidity. “Whenever toasting a special occasion, serve this wonderful sparkler and let the good times roll!” says winemaker Jon McPherson. $24 Bottle

Carter Estate 2014 Blanc de Blanc Sparkling

This product has been painstakingly nurtured to deliver a sparkling wine with the finesse, flavor and aroma of a fine méthode champenoise sparkling wine. The process included barrel fermentation and barrel aging of approximately 8% of the cuvee prior to the secondary fermentation. Once the Blanc de Blanc had been blended and undergone secondary fermentation, it was aged for an additional fifteen months on the yeast lees. This time on the yeast lees helped to develop the yeasty, toasty aromas, a very fine bubble bead, wonderfully full creamy textures and an extraordinary mousse. The bottle is brimming with fresh apple and delicate floral aromas; a hint of oak shows in the background with a nuance of vanilla, toasty cookie and a rich yeasty character. This wine has a very bright acidity and a refreshingly dry finish. “Definitely our finest sparkling release to date,” states winemaker Jon McPherson. $34 Bottle

Cougar Dolce

100% Estate Malvasia Bianca sparkling wine. Sweet, Muscat-like with notes of apricot, peaches and honey, for the taste buds that like more of a dessert flavor.

Oak Mountain Winery Raspberry Sparkling

This refreshing sparkling wine explodes with a slightly sweet raspberry candy touch.  Great for sipping by the pool or celebrating your special occasion.  Winner of a Silver medal – Orange County Fair Wine Competition.  Pairs well with ham, turkey, prime rib or most any main dish.  $25 Bottle

Though Temecula Valley wines can be ordered through the wineries’ online stores and shipped to most states, what better excuse to visit the destination and try the wines onsite. Temecula Valley is conveniently located in the center of Southern California, just an hour drive from San Diego, Palm Springs and Orange County and 90 minutes from Los Angeles. Many winery restaurants offer special holiday dining menus that pair wonderfully with their holiday wines. Resort, hotel, bed and breakfast inns and vacation rentals offer special packages and pricing for Sunday through Thursday stays.

 

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Pan-Seared Steak with Portobello Mushroom Sauce atop Mascarpone Polenta

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

This classic dish highlights the earthy flavors of Portobello mushrooms, the richness of mascarpone polenta and the elegance of seared, rib eye steak. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Merlot or Syrah.

Ingredients:

3 cups (750ml) water
1 cup (250ml) chicken stock
1 cup (160g) course ground polenta
1 teaspoon (5ml) salt
3 tablespoons (45g) mascarpone cheese
2 (8-ounce/225g) boneless rib eye steaks, 1½- inches (3.81cm) thick, removed from refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking
4 tablespoons (60ml) extra virgin olive oil, divided
½ pound (225g) portobello mushrooms, stems removed
2/3 cup (160ml) Temecula Valley Merlot
2/3 cup (160ml) heavy cream
1 tablespoon (15ml) balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon (2.5ml) salt
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Pour the water and the chicken stock into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.

When the water begins to simmer, whisk in the polenta and the 1 teaspoon (5ml) salt.

Stir for 5 minutes while the polenta is simmering.

Cover the polenta and turn the heat to low.

Cook for 40 minutes total stirring every 10 minutes making sure to scrape the bottom and corners of the pan.

Remove from the heat and stir in the mascarpone cheese. Cover and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 450° F (230° C).

Sprinkle both sides of the steaks generously with salt and pepper.

In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet heat 2 tablespoons (30ml) of the olive oil over medium-high heat until very hot, but not smoking. Add the steaks and sear for 2 minutes on each side.

Transfer the steaks to a shallow baking pan. (Set the skillet aside for later use.)

Roast the steaks in the oven for 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. Remove the steaks from the pan and let the steaks rest while you make the mushroom sauce.

Thinly slice the mushroom caps into half moons then slice again crosswise into 1-inch (2.5cm) pieces.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons (30ml) of olive oil in the skillet used for the steaks. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms and cook and stir until golden brown. Add the wine and reduce the liquid by half.

Add the cream and balsamic vinegar and the ½ teaspoon of salt. Cook and stir until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and cover.

To serve, spoon desired amount of polenta in the center of each plate. Top polenta with sauce and strips of steak.

Suggested Pairings:

Avensole Winery 2014 Merlot ~ This wine is unique with blackberry and black cherry fruit with subtle hints of black licorice and vanilla, framed by silky tannins and a generous finish.

Carter Estate Winery & Resort 2012 Merlot ~ This Merlot has a very long finish that is silky and firm with a shapely, tart tannic backbone.

Fazeli Cellars 2014 Shiraz ~ Silky black currant and blackberry layered with hints of vanilla, earth and black pepper. Full-bodied with a rich, lingering finish.

Monte De Oro Winery 2014 Syrah ~  Accents of cocoa bean, clove, anise, red and black peppercorns with a long gripping finish.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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5 Facts About Blended Wine

Friday, June 1st, 2018

Blended wines are some of our favorites because they are the most complex and interesting types of wine.  Here are the 5 facts you need to know about blends:

1. Difference between varietals and blends: A standard varietal like Malbec, Chardonnay etc., is made from the same type of grape. Sometimes winemakers will use grapes from different plots of a vineyard or different regions for a varietal, but they are all the same type of grapes. In the U.S. a varietal needs to be 75 percent of one type of grape, while in Europe it’s generally 80 percent and in Argentina it’s 85 percent. It’s possible for wineries to add other grapes to a varietal to enhance the elements and still call it a single varietal wine.

Blends are what their name suggests. They typically consist of at least 40-50 percent of one type of grape and a smaller mix of two or more other grapes.

2. Blending makes wines more complex: Blending is used to maximize the expression of a wine. It can enhance aromas, color, texture, body and finish, making it a more well-rounded and complex wine. If a wine doesn’t have a strong scent, for example, a winemaker can add five percent of a more potent smelling grape and can experiment with different types of varietals coming from other vineyards. They could have been aged in oak barrels, fermented in various kinds of vessels or just harvested in different phases of ripeness.

In Argentina, the heart of most blends is Malbec. Merlot can be used to give the wine a better aroma and make it seem fresher or smoother. Cabernet Franc or Sauvignon are often added for structure or tannin concentration to make a more powerful wine. Creating the perfect blend also depends on the characteristics of the year and the expression of each grape. The possibility for combinations that result in a quality blend are endless.

3. Some single varietals are made for blending: Winemakers will often make a barrel of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or other wines solely for the purpose of blending. As the grapes are being harvested, a winemaker determines what they think will be the best formula for a blend. Allotting specific barrels for blending allows them to experiment in finding the best types of mixtures. The idea is to highlight each grape’s strength and complement the other grapes being used in the blend.

4. The timeline for mixing wines varies: Winemakers mix blends in a steel tank. Lower cost blends are rarely aged in oak and higher cost blends are generally aged in oak. Some winemakers put blended wines into an oak barrel half way through the aging process, while others put the wines together one to two weeks before bottling. Some try letting the wines ferment together from start to finish. Again, the goal is to develop the best of everything in the wines and each winery determines what approach works best for them.

5. Some grapes aren’t used for blending: White wines tend to be pure varietals. However, there are some exceptions, particularly in certain regions in Europe where two or more white grapes are used. Pinot Noir is a type of grape that is rarely blended. That is why when you are having a Burgundy it will likely be a 100 percent Pinot Noir.

Here are some great Temecula Valley blends you won’t want to miss!

Callaway Winery ~ Calliope Red – Blend of Mourvedre, Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache and Petite Sirah

Lorenzi Estate Wines ~ 2013 Rated R Red Blend – Blend of Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel and Petite Syrah

Lorimar Winery ~ 2016 Vineyard Blend –  Blend of Grenache, Viognier and Roussanne

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa ~ 2015 Cabernet Rosé – Blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon

Vindemia Winery ~ 2015 Commonwealth – Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc & Petite Syrah

Copy source: Ross Szabo; The Huffington Post

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Wine Country Recipe ~ Homemade Pizza with Figs, Prosciutto, Arugula, and Fresh Mozzarella

Friday, April 27th, 2018

Caramelized figs, oozing cheese, salty prosciutto, and fresh arugula are a delightful combination of flavors and textures in this pizza. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Riesling or Rosé.

Makes two 10-inch pizzas

Ingredients:

Pizzas:
1 (1-pound) store-bought or homemade pizza dough
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves,
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
8 slices prosciutto, about 4 ounces, torn in half lengthwise
6 medium fresh California figs, quartered
2 ounces fresh arugula
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Make the pizzas:
Place a pizza stone on the lowest rack in the oven, and heat the oven to 475°F.

Divide the dough into 2 equal balls. Roll each ball out on a lightly floured work surface and transfer to a lightly floured pizza peel (or roll out on a piece of parchment paper). Lightly brush the dough with olive oil. Sprinkle the rosemary over each crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the rims. Arrange half of the mozzarella over each crust, sprinkle 2 tablespoons Parmesan over each pizza, and arrange the figs on top.

Slide the pizzas onto the baking stone (if using parchment, slide the parchment onto the baking stone). Bake the pizzas until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Remove the pizzas from the oven. Drape half of the prosciutto slices over each pizza and sprinkle 1 tablespoon Parmesan over each pizza. Return to the pizzas to the oven, and cook until the prosciutto is heated through, 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove the pizzas from the oven and scatter half of the arugula over each pizza. Brush the crusts with olive oil, sprinkle a few drops of olive oil over the arugula, and garnish with black pepper. Cut the pizzas into wedges and serve immediately.

Suggested Pairings: 

Baily Winery ~ 2016 Riesling –  Enjoy this delicate, dry and fruity white with a slightly spicy meal, or poolside on a hot & sunny day!

Hart Winery ~ 2016 Rosé of Sangiovese – Lightly pink, near-dry, delicately scented and flavored Rose′ wine, very much in the dryer, food-friendly European style. Excellent with a wide range of foods, and a great summer sipper.

Mount Palomar Winery ~ 2015 Sangiovese Rosé – very fragrant with scents of strawberry, honeydew melon, white nectarine, and kiwi fruit. The taste is bright with strawberry, tangelo, watermelon, and hints of rosewater

Maurice Carr’ie Winery ~ 2016 Riesling – This semi-sweet Riesling is full of apple and apricot aromas. The palate is nicely balanced between crisp, fruity, acidity, and modest sweetness. Flavors of apricot, pear, peach, and pineapple develop in this rich wine.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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Fun Facts About Late Harvest Wine

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

Remember those small, lovely bottles you’ve seen in the dessert wine section of your favorite tasting room or wine store?

Many wine-lovers have yet to discover how delicious a late harvest wine can taste – especially when paired with cheese and honey, chocolate or a fruit-based dessert.

The perfect sweet dessert wine for Valentine’s Day, late harvest wine is simple to understand and easy to find here in Temecula Valley!

Here are some fun facts about late harvest wine:

  1. “Late harvest” refers to wines made from grapes left on the vine longer than usual and picked later than normal. Late harvest grapes are often more similar to raisins, but have been naturally dehydrated while still on the vine.
  2. Late harvest wines are made around the world with almost every grape imaginable. Grapes like zinfandel and riesling are ideally suited to produce late harvest wine and are among the most popular.
  3. Grapes used for late harvest wines go through their full growth cycle and then some – becoming super sweet and losing acidity as they ripen.
  4. “Noble rot” is the term for the edible mold that causes grapes to lose nearly all of their water content. This natural process begins to take place in late September and can last until late October.
  5. Late harvest grapes are often hand-picked. Sometimes, the usable grapes from one vine may only produce enough juice for a single glass.

Suggested Late Harvest Wines:

Avensole Vineyard & Winery ~ 2015 Late Harvest Muscat Canelli
Doffo Winery ~ Lucca – Late Harvest Malbec
Wiens Family Cellars ~ 2016 Late Harvest Primitivo
Wilson Creek Winery ~ Late Harvest Malbec-Merlot

Facts courtesy of Snooth and Wikipedia

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Wine Country Recipe: Red Wine-Raspberry Sorbet

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Red Wine Sorbet

There’s nothing better than a light, refreshing sorbet on a hot summer afternoon.  This sorbet is the best of both worlds; raspberries and your favorite Temecula Valley red wine!  Welcome to summer and enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1 bottle (750 ml) fruity red wine, such as Merlot, Zinfandel or Beaujolais
3 cups raspberries

Preparation:

In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar, water and red wine to a boil and let boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Remove from heat and add the raspberries.  Cover and let steep for 1 hour.

To purée the berries and remove the seeds, using a rubber spatula, press the mixture through a mesh strainer set over a medium bowl or pass it through a food mill fitted with a fine disk into a medium bowl.  Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Freeze in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Variation: For a lighter-tasting sorbet, use rosé in place of the red wine.

Tip: You can use frozen raspberries in this recipe.  There’s no need to thaw the berries before adding them to the warm wine.

Makes about 1 quart

Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Merlot or Zinfandel; or here are some additional pairing suggestions:

Merlot:
Longshadow Ranch Winery – Gorgeous and full of life with a fruit forward finish.
South Coast Winery Resort & Spa –  Blueberries and rose petals mingle with a rich chocolate, coffee earthiness that is warmed with French oak.
Wilson Creek Winery– Rich garnet red wine with earthy aromas of smoke,leather, spice and sweet pipe tobacco. Flavors of plum and spice play lightly on the palate.

Zinfandel:
Briar Rose Winery – Medium bodied wine with red fruit characters of blackberry, boysenberry and black cherry.
Foot Path Winery – This is not a dry Zin. It maintains about .5% residual sugar.
Wiens Family Cellars – Raspberry jam, red cherries and a hint of minerality

Recipe adapted from “Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes” by David Lebovitz
Photo credit: Maren Caruso

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Big Dreamers: David Bradley, Vindemia Winery

Monday, May 26th, 2014

In the fourth installment of our continuing blog series “Big Dreamers,” we sat down with Temecula Valley veteran David Bradley who knows the vineyard landscape better than anyone else – from the air.  Long-time hot air balloon pilot and talented winemaker, David landed in Temecula Valley in 1985 and operates two successful enterprises on the same property. Learn about his story as a boutique California winemaker and balloon enthusiast below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 David Bradley, Vindemia Winery

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

I was introduced to the world of hot air balloons in 1977. In 1985, my wife Gail & I moved to California and started California Dreamin’ Balloon Adventures in the world’s most perfect weather. The next year we began flying in Temecula, CA, over wine country. There were eight wineries and one was for sale. I just didn’t have the money.

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

The winery started out just as a vineyard. If we owned a vineyard in a great location we could launch the balloons from the site and bring our guests back to the vineyard for breakfast. One day, I landed at this super-cool Provence-styled villa in the valley and was greeted by the owner. She was very nice and I asked if I could land here and visit again. The second time, I asked if she would ever sell her home. Four years later, I got a call asking if I would be interested in purchasing the house and winery site. That’s how Vindemia started.

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

Winemaking is a contagious chess game pitting hopeful players against Mother Nature.  The truth to the myth is, 50 days each fall season with no sleep, 2:00am start times and mumbling pH, TA figures while recounting Brix over and over. You begin to feel like a pawn.

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

Winemaking is like all the arts – the project is never perfect. Sometimes it’s what’s not done that best finishes the structure; and the results haunt you, both good and bad.

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

Least favorite is guests mistaking us as glamorous and missing the invitation to land on the farm and share in the pleasure of the fruit. And, the reason to get up… to see if Mother Nature moved her knight!

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

 

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http://visitcalifornia.com/dream365

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LAWineFest + Temecula Wines

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

The 9th Annual LAWineFest is this weekend!

Happening May 31 and June 1 at Hollywood’s Raleigh Studios. With hundreds of wines, craft brews and spirits on offer, the weekend-long festival is a relaxed, welcoming setting for people to explore the world of wine and more, alongside cool L.A. food trucks, live bands and handcrafted goods. LAWineFest proudly supports local organizations while serving as the Southland’s signature celebration of wine, beer, spirits and food.

Temecula Valley wines will be featured in their very own booth!  The region is proudly pouring:

REDS
Callaway Vineyard & Winery: Winemaker’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Miramonte Winery: Tempranillo
Lorimar Winery: Trio – Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Mourvedre
Hart Winery: Syrah

WHITES
Falkner Winery: Sauvignon Blanc
Cougar Vineyard & Winery: Vermentino
Vindemia Vineyard & Estate Winery: Regatta de Blanc

SPARKLING
Wiens Family Cellars: Sparkling Amour De L’Orange
South Coast Winery: Sparkling Pinot Grigio

Be sure to stop by the Temecula Wines booth to sample all your favorites and try something new!

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Summer Concerts in Temecula Wine Country

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Summer is just around the corner, which means plenty of live music entertainment in Southern California’s wine country! So many Temecula Valley wineries have beautiful outdoor concert venues. Wineries are kicking off their summer concert series now through September. Whether you love jazz, rock or blues paired with your wine, Temecula Valley Wine Country has you covered.

Below is a short list of fabulous winery concerts and be sure to check out our event calendar, which is regularly updated throughout the summer!

Lorimar Winery, Temecula, CA
June 1, 2014
The Mercedes Moore Band is about to bring their sizzling, foot tapping, dance floor moving sound to Southern California. Led by the powerful, sultry and affecting voice of Mercedes Moore, this band will take any local venue by storm.

 

Wilson Creek Winery, Temecula, CA
June 8, 2014 
Relax and enjoy live entertainment every weekend in Temecula Valley Wine Country. On June 8, listen to the beautiful sounds of Buzz Campbell at the popular Wilson Creek Winery venue.

 

Falkner Winery, Temecula, CA
July 20, 2014
Join Falkner Winery for their free Spring/Summer Music and BBQ Series. Guests can purchase BBQ paired with the famous Luscious Lips Sangria. A veteran of the Southern California music scene, Jason Weber has been playing the saxophone for over 30 years. Don’t miss it!

 

Thornton Winery, Temecula CA  
August 24, 2014

Enjoy the music of Al Jarreau & Vincent Ingala at the beautiful Thornton Winery. General admission seating is available in rows of concert-style seats, as well as a limited number of small tables for four on a first-come-first-served basis.


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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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