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Roasted Butternut Squash and Fennel Soup with Fried Sage

November 5th, 2021

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 6

Butternut squash and fennel make a compelling duo in soup. The licorice-like fennel adds an herbal dimension and keeps the puree from being too sweet. Serve in small portions at Thanksgiving or to launch any autumn meal. Or pair with a hearty salad and a cheese course for a simple dinner. Serve with your favorite Temecula Valley Chardonnay or Merlot.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small butternut squash, about 1-1/2 pounds (675 g)
  • 1 large fennel bulb, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ large yellow onion, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 4 to 5 cups (1 to 1.25 l) chicken or vegetable broth
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fried sage:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 dozen large fresh sage leaves, stems removed
  • 1/3 cup (80 g) crème fraiche, yogurt, or sour cream for drizzling

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Slice off both ends of the squash, then cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard the seeds and stringy flesh. Cut each half in 3 or 4 pieces. Choose a baking dish just large enough to hold the squash and fennel and coat the bottom with the 1 tablespoon olive oil. Arrange the squash and the fennel in the baking dish cut side down, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and bake until a knife pierces the squash easily, about 45 minutes. Let cool, then scoop the squash flesh out of the skin and discard the skin. Chop the fennel roughly.

In a large, heavy pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and sweet, about 10 minutes. Add the thyme and cook 1 minute. Add the squash, the fennel, and 4 cups (1 l) broth. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for 5 minutes. Puree in a blender, in batches if necessary. Return to the pot and reheat, thinning with broth to the desired consistency. The soup should not be thick. Season with salt and pepper.

Prepare the fried sage: In a very small skillet, melt the butter with the oil over medium-low heat. Add the sage leaves and cook slowly, turning with tongs, until they darken and begin to crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. You can prepare the sage leaves up to 2 hours ahead.

Put the crème fraîche in a bowl and, if necessary, thin with water until you can drizzle it with a whisk. Divide the hot soup among 6 bowls, then drizzle each portion with some of the crème fraîche and garnish with 2 fried sage leaves. Serve immediately.

Suggested Pairings:

Altisima Winery ~ 2019 Chardonnay – Boasting strong oak aromatics, a creamy texture, and a butter finish. 

Bel Vino Chardonnay ~ Essences of blueberries and rose petals with a coffee earthiness.

Leoness Cellars 2016 Vineyard Series Merlot ~ Beautiful layers of blackberry, black cherry, and plum complemented by earthy aromas

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa ~ 2015 Wild Horse Peak Merlot – Essences of blueberries and rose petals with a coffee earthiness.


Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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November Winery Events

November 5th, 2021

Fun Fall Events!

There’s a chill in the air now and suddenly we’re planning holiday meals! Whether your holiday plans keep you close to home or off visiting relatives, plan to sneak in a trip to Temecula Valley Wine Country to stock up on your favorite wine, or attend one of the great events going on in wine country!

De Portola Wine Trail
The DWT “Harvest Celebration” | November 7th from 10:00am to 5:00pm | Featuring noshes from 10 local artisan chefs, each offering their specialty. Every sample is expertly paired with three wines from each of the following wineries: Cougar Vineyard & Winery, Danza del Sol Winery, Fazeli Cellars, Frangipani Winery, Gershon Bachus Vintners, Leoness Cellars, Masia de la Vinya Winery, Oak Mountain Winery, Robert Renzoni Vineyards & Somerset Winery. For a carefree day without driving, hop on the special Harvest Shuttle provided by Grapeline Wine Tours, with pickups at hotels and many vacation rentals. Or charter a private vehicle for parties of 2 to 40, including Grapeline’s unique 18-passenger convertible Mercedes Sprinter. For more information and to purchase your tickets please visit https://www.deportolawinetrail.com/festivals-and-events

Europa Village Winery & Resorts
Salsa Nights at Bolero | November 2; 7pm-10p | Tickets: $15 Gen Admission; Members $12 | Includes one glass of wine, beer, or Sangria | Calling all hombres and mujeres! Dust off your dancing shoes and join us on La Plaza at Bolero for an exhilarating night of Salsa dancing. Featuring live music by Kimba Light, Salsa lessons, Spanish wines, and tasty tapas | RSVP today – limited tickets available! Guest must be at least 21 years of age and present a valid government issued photo ID at the door. Purchase tickets at https://shop.europavillage.com/Shop/Events/Salsa-Nights

Thanksgiving Brunch Buffet | November 25th | 11am – 4pm | Adults: $79; Members: $71.10, Children: $39; Members: $35.10 |Europa Village’s culinary brigade is bringing the heat this Thanksgiving with a fantastic brunch buffet featuring traditional holiday flare and other Spanish favorites at Bolero Restaurante. Don’t miss out on this incredible feast that will leave no one hungry | For reservations please call us at 951.414.3802. Reservations required | **All guests will be required to provide a credit card to make a reservation. Reservations that are canceled within 24hrs will incur a $25 per cancellation fee**

Foot Path Winery
Sweet & Savory Phyllo Dough Classes
| November 20th 10:00am-3:00pm | $50pp | For those of you who wish to know the art of the Phyllo come join us in one of the instruction classes held at Foot Path Winery. Just in time for holiday parties. What you will learn: Phyllo dough do’s and don’ts, the art of Baklava and Spanakopita making. Recipes and instruction information will be handed out at each class. Along with where to purchase the phyllo dough you require for your project. Two classes will be held one in November and one in December and limited to 16 ppl. You will work with a team and each member will help with the preparation of the baklava. There will be sampling of the items made that day | Included with your fee will be an eight sheet of Baklava prepared the day of the class to take home, along with information and butter brush | You can secure your spot, online or by sending in the class fee by November 13, 2021 to Foot Path Winery, 36650 Glenoaks Rd., Temecula, CA 92592 or if you are in Wine Country, you can come by the winery and make payment via Credit Card. Call Chris at 951-764-1849 or Email – deanefoote@verizon.net for additional questions or reservation | Call and reserve your spot on the assembly line….dancing is not required!

Tamale Making Classes – Pork Tamales with Red Chile | November 27th 10:00am-3:00pm | $50pp | For those of you who wish to know the art of the Tamale come join us in one of the instruction classes held at Foot Path Winery. Fee includes a dozen take home tamales prepared at class with written information. Learn masa, sauce, meat, and corn husk preparation and most of all, where to purchase your ingredients for the Tamales. Three classes will be held one in November and two in December | Class size is limited to 20 people. Based on the quantity of people we will either have teams of 4 or 5. Tamale making is an assembly process…did anyone say TEQUILLA! | You can secure your spot, online or by sending in the class fee by November 20, 2021 to Foot Path Winery, 36650 Glenoaks Rd., Temecula, CA 92592 or if you are in Wine Country, you can come by the winery and make payment via Credit Card. Call Chris at 951-764-1849 or Email – deanefoote@verizon.net for additional questions or reservation | Call and reserve your spot on the assembly line….dancing is not required! 

Peltzer Family Cellars
Peltzer Ice Rink Opening Day on November 15
| The rink will be open from 11-15-21 through 1-30-2022 | Please visit www.peltzerwinery.com for reservations!

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa
Winemakers Dinner
| November 18 starts at 5:00pm | Guests are in for a delicious treat that has been skillfully crafted by our culinary team and carefully paired with wines. https://store.wineresort.com/winemaker-s-dinner-thursday-november-18th-wd1118?returnurl=%2fevents%2f

Thanksgiving at The Vineyard Rose Restaurant | Restaurant will be offering a limited menu featuring both regular menu items as well traditional Thanksgiving cuisine starting at 11:30AM. Please visit this link for more reservation and additional information https://www.southcoastwinery.com/dining/thanksgiving

Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Festival | November 28th | 5:00pm – 8:00pm | Adults $50, Children $25 (4-10yrs) Children under 3 & under are free | This event is full of activities for the entire family to enjoy. Tickets include buffet dinner, Christmas Carolers, Horse Drawn Trolley & Tractor Rides, Face Painting & Crafts, Photos with Santa, and of course Tree Lighting!  For tickets, please visit https://www.southcoastwinery.com/tree-lighting

Wilson Creek Winery
Mixology Wine Experience | November 4th | 11:00am-1:00pm | Plan a visit to Wilson Creek Winery to join us for an hour of interactive session of learning and sampling some of our most popular wine cocktails. Tickets from $25.00-$35.00. For tickets, please visit www.wilsoncreekwinery.com

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Four Must-Have Temecula Valley Wines for Your Thanksgiving Dinner Table

November 5th, 2021

Thanksgiving Cheer

Holiday meals are so full of different, often competing, flavors that it can be tough to find just the right wines to pair. So why not select a few unique options and let your guests mix and match with each course? To that end, we have compiled a quick guide to four foolproof wines from Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country to sip alongside your Thanksgiving spread this season.

BUBBLES

No party is complete without some festive sparkling wine! And, it’s actually one of the easiest wine to pair with food because it goes with just about everything. From your welcome toast over hors d’oeuvres, to a spread of appetizers, to a versatile pairing for your main course, sparkling wines cleanse the palate, and compliment a wide range of flavors, so they are a must-pour for any occasion.

Temecula Valley also makes a ton of really great sparkling wines! From light and easy sweeter styles, to offbeat fizz made from non-traditional grapes, to complex vintage classic method sparklers, there is something to suit ever palate. You could even pair each course with a totally different style of sparkling wine for a unique food and wine experience.

A few to try:

Oak Mountain Winery Sparkling Pinotage, Temecula Valley, $34

Bottaia Rosé Spumante, Temecula Valley, $45

Carter Estate Blanc de Blanc, Temecula Valley, $41

VIOGNIER

Viognier is a white grape known primarily for its role in white wines from the Rhône Valley, in particular the appellation of Condrieu on the right bank of the Northern Rhône. It has been said to be “the hedonist’s white grape variety,” because of its exceptional body, perfume, and richness, making it perfect for a late Fall or early Winter dinner.

Temecula Valley viognier presents all of the classic markers of the grape – a heady aroma of stone fruit like apricot and peach, floral notes of honeysuckle and apple blossom, and a touch of amber musk. It’s also got a rich, slightly oily texture that coats the palate, and makes it an ideal pairing for some of the more complex flavors of the holiday table.

A few to try:

Leoness Cellars Cellar Series Viognier, Temecula Valley, $29

Falkner Winery Viognier, Temecula Valley, $40

Monte de Oro Viognier, Temecula Valley, $23

MONTEPULCIANO

Not to be confused with the region of Montepulciano in Tuscany, the Montepulciano grape is one of Italy’s most widely planted. Primarily associated with the region of Abruzzo in Central Italy, wines made from the Montepulciano grape can be medium-bodied and food-friendly – a style largely intended for wines meant to be enjoyed regularly at the family dinner table.

However, in Temecula Valley – as with some producers in Italy – winemakers are experimenting with a much more serious style of Montepulciano. These wines are full bodied with dark, ripe fruit, notes of forest floor, chocolate, and spice, a medium tannin structure, and a refreshing backbone of acidity to balance the richness of the fruit. Pair these wines with the full spectrum of Thanksgiving flavors, from turkey, to duck, to roast beef, to earthy vegetarian dishes, and everything in between.

A few to try:

Robert Renzoni Vineyards Montepulciano, Temecula Valley, $49

Fazeli Cellars Montepulciano, Temecula Valley, $50

Cougar Estate Cask Montepulciano, Temecula Valley, $50

SHERRY-STYLE WINES

It wouldn’t be a holiday meal without a little something sweet to end with. Sherry – the famous Spanish fortified wine – is produced in a number of styles, from the light and dry fino and manzanilla sherries to the nutty and oxidized amontillado and oloroso sherries, to the sweet and popular cream sherries, to the rich, luscious PX sherries. The sweeter styles are a perfect after-dinner drink, sipped on their own, or with a helping of holiday dessert or a cheese course.

True Sherry wines must come from grapes grown and produced exclusively in the Jerez region of Spain. However the term “Sherry-style” may refer to wines made using similar production methods. Temecula Valley makes wines in this same way. These wines are fortified with a neutral spirit and typically aged oxidatively – that is, with exposure to oxygen – resulting in a browning of the wine, and nutty, toasted aromas.

One such Sherry-style wine is made with Pedro Ximénez grapes which are dried like raisins, fortified, and aged completely oxidatively, yielding a wine that is as dark as coffee, with rich caramel and dried fruit notes. In Spain, these are known as PX Sherries, and they are among the sweetest wines in the world. Pour this over vanilla ice cream or sip it alongside your holiday pecan pie for a totally decadent treat.

A few to try:

Raúl Ramirez Bodegas y Viñedos Bandido, $45

Mount Palomar Winery Solera Cream Sherry, Temecula Valley, $29

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Mushroom, Kale & Butternut Squash Pasta

October 1st, 2021

Mushroom, Kale & Butternut Squash Pasta

As the weather turns chilly and the crisp autumn air has us gathering around a warm fire at night, this comfort food dish will be a sure hit that it will have you making it again and again. This Autumn-inspired pasta showcases the best of the harvest season and pairs perfectly with a loaf of fresh crusty bread. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped oyster mushrooms or shitake
  • 1/2 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup diced white onion
  • 2 cups shredded kale
  • 1 cup small of diced butternut squash
  • 2 oz white wine
  • 2 cups 35% cream
  • 1 cup shredded smoked gouda cheese
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 6 cups cooked bowtie pasta
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds

Directions:

  1. In a large frying pan (big enough for all ingredients) heat butter.
  2. Cook onions, garlic, and diced squash on medium heat until onions are soft and starting to brown.
  3. Add mushrooms and cook on medium for about 5 min.
  4. Add white wine and stir. The wine should clean the bottom of the pan up and incorporate all that goodness.
  5. Add kale, cream, cheese salt, and pepper. Cook till cheese is melted and kale is wilted slightly. (Approx 3 min)
  6. Add pre-cooked noodles and toss together. Cook for another 3 min on medium to re-heat noodles.
  7. Serve and top with toasted almonds and chopped green onions.

Suggested Pairings:

Bel Vino Winery ~ 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon – Bold & smooth. This elegant wine has aromas & flavors of blackberry, blueberry & Dried cherry.

Foot Path Winery ~ 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon – This wine’s delicious full-body gives it the qualities that makes it so beloved worldwide. This wine can be enjoyed in its youthful stage or when it is aged to perfection.

Lorimar Winery ~ 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon – Truly the holy grail of wine, with complexity to spare; perfumes of black plums, medjool dates, root beer leaf and cedar mingled with black peppercorn and the weathered leather of a whip.

Ponte Winery ~ 2017 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – Red berry mix aromas and a touch of roasted red pepper, black pepper and a touch of cedar at the finish with graphite.

Recipe & photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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October Winery Events

October 1st, 2021

Grab your friends for a fun fall event!

Akash Winery
Comedy Night | October 8 |$25 per person | Food Tuck onsite. Member discounts apply | Purchase online at www.akashwinery.com/events 

Mystery Kitchen | October 15 | $150 + tax per person| Join Chef Daniel from Naughty Pig and Chef Dylan from Soros Mediterranean Grill & Savage Chef Kitchens | Purchase online at www.akashwinery.com/events

Danza del Sol Winery
Harvest Dinner
| October 17 | 5:00pm start, sparkling reception begins at 4:30pm | Members $90; Guests $105 | Chef Jillian Fae has designed a delicious four coursed meal paired with some of your best loved Danza wines. This dinner is to be set as a semi-formal event and will have vegetarian options upon request.

Movie Night in the Vines | October 23 | 5:30pm – 9:00pm | Members $10; General $12; Kids Under 12 are free. Wine Club Comps Not Applicable During Event. All ages welcome!

Europa Village Winery & Resorts
CarnEvil Halloween Ball | October 28  7:00pm-10:00pm | Tickets: $89 / Members $80.10. Includes admission, food stations, and one glass of wine. Costumes required for entry. Must be 21 and older |Transport yourself into the eerie streets of Venice with our twisted take on Carnival. Join us for Europa’s 1st Annual Halloween event, CarnEvil Ball, where you’ll enjoy a curated selection of craft cocktails in our Spookeasy, ghoulish delights, DJ, a costume contest, and much more! Don’t miss out on this spine-chilling event. Purchase your advance tickets at https://bit.ly/2XK7izw

Salsa Nights at Bolero |Tuesday Nights October 5 & 19; 7pm-10p | Tickets: $15 Reg.; Members $12. Includes one glass of wine, beer, or Sangria | Calling all hombres and mujeres! Dust off your dancing shoes and join us on La Plaza at Bolero for an exhilarating night of Salsa dancing. Featuring live music by Kimba Light, Salsa lessons, Spanish wines, and tasty tapas | RSVP today – limited tickets available! Guest must be at least 21 years of age and present a valid government issued photo ID at the door. Purchase tickets at https://shop.europavillage.com/Shop/Events/Salsa-Nights

Falkner Winery
Wicked Wine Bash
| October 22 | 7:00p-10:00p | $20 per person/ $10 for Falkner Wine Club Members and Industry | Come dressed in your Halloween costume for our costume contest where the winner will receive $250 in prizes! Live Music by Lifetime Rocker will be rockin’ the house with some spooky classic rock music! Entry fee includes a glass of Spiked Sangria or cup of our Hot Lips mulled wine. Wine by the bottle or glass, and beer will be available for purchase. Tables will be first come, first served. This event is 21+ only. Physical tickets will not be needed as we will have your names on a list at the door. Tickets are pre-sale only. Link for tickets https://store.falknerwinery.com/events–classes-c19.aspx . Purchase your tickets today!

Lorimar Vineyards & Winery
Killer Dueling Pianos
| October 21 | 6:00p-9:00p | Tickets are $30; Wine Club $27 | www.Lorimarwinery.com

Halloween Party | October 29 | 7:00-11:00p | Tickets are $25; Wine Club $20 | www.Lorimarwinery.com

Masia de la Vinya Winery
Pumpkin Succulent Craft Event
| October 3 | 11:00am-1:30pm |$55 includes instruction by Pinot’s Palette, materials, & complimentary glass of wine or fall sangria. Please visit www.masiadelavinya.com  to reserve your spot.

Peltzer Family Cellars
HalloWine Party
| October 30 | 7pm-10pm, 21+ only | $25 per ticket inlcudes a glass of Witch’s Brew Sangria, DJ, food truck eats, costume contest with prizes. Reserve at Peltzerwinery.com

Pumpkin Painting for the kiddos every Tuesday/Thursday of October | $20 per ticket, includes pumpkin, all materials to paint, and entry to farm |Reserve at peltzerwinery.com.

Peltzer Pumpkin Farm open daily | Mon-Friday $2 entry, Sat-Sunday $3 entry. Attractions vary in cost Pumpkin Picking, train rides, gem panning, petting zoo, carnival games, pony rides, mini–John Deere carts.

Raul Ramirez Bodegas y Vinedos
Hispanic Heritage Event | October 14 | 1:00pm to 4:00pm | $75.00 ticket |Dancing Andalusian Horse Show – Pairing Argentinian Empanadas – Live Latin music | to reserve pleas click HERE for more information

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Move Over Pumpkin Spice; We’ve Got Delicious Fall Wines

October 1st, 2021

While we realize seasonal transitions in Southern California aren’t always so obvious – sunny and 85 degrees to sunny and 79 degrees, for example – we still don’t like to miss out on the festive changes we associate with the weather getting crisper and the days getting shorter.

Beautiful Fall Vineyard

One of these changes is, of course, reaching for those fantastic in-between wines that mark the Fall season. You know the ones – the rich, nutty Chardonnay instead of the bright and fresh Pinot Grigio; the light-bodied red packed with juicy red fruit instead of the salmon-colored rosé.

It’s not holiday season yet, and we’re still not ready to move into cold weather wines, but pumpkin spice has started creeping into everything, and we find ourselves eyeing those cozy sweaters in the back of the closet. In celebration, we have compiled a guide to some of our favorite wine for transitioning into cooler Fall weather.

BOLD WHITES

Peltzer Family Cellars Chardonnay

Says Pelzer Tasting Room Manager Danae Wager, “The transition from summer to Fall is not always smooth (like we insist our wines to be). As the weather cools off, we love to feature our Chardonnay with any dish that would typically be paired with a lighter bodied red wine to ease the transition in temperature.”

This robust Chardonnay boasts notes of yellow apple, apricot, and lemon meringue pie and is perfect for homemade Fall soups. Think: roasted butternut squash or loaded baked potato soup to warm the palate. 

Fazeli Cellars Oaked Chardonnay

This luscious white is aged on the lees in French and Hungarian oak barrels for eight months. It exudes all that one expects from a classic California Chardonnay, with notes of Fuji apples, pear, pineapple, and prominent warm, toasty oak notes on the finish.

Leoness Cellars Viognier

“Fall in Temecula seems to be staying warmer and warmer!” Says Leoness Cellars Executive Director, Spencer Szczygiel. “Around this time of year, I’ll often reach for a white wine with a little more weight to it – our Leoness Viognier being a favorite.”

He explains that the Viognier’s stone fruit and spice notes pair exceptionally well with heartier fall salads like peppery greens with apple, blue cheese, nuts and grilled chicken – which are great if you want to avoid turning on the oven during the lingering Southern California Fall heat.

 Europa Village Estate Arneis

Showing complex yet light and airy aromas of honey, wild herbs, water chestnut, and pear skin, this golden-colored wine immediately draws the attention of the taster. This is a rich and very full-bodied wine, with flavors of apricot, pear, and a slight nuttiness like honey-dipped cashews, that carry this wine through a long and harmonious finish – just like the slow transition from Summer to Fall in the beautiful Temecula Valley.

HEARTY REDS:

Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery Monastrell

This is a lighter red wine with hints of cherry and cedar, making it perfect for a sunset charcuterie board or even a fish dish, as well as classic options like chicken and pasta. This is the ideal red on a warm day when something rich and velvety doesn’t feel quite right.

Peltzer Family Cellars Estate Sangiovese

This medium-bodied Sangiovese is packed with maraschino cherries, pomegranate, allspice, and violet. It’s a great wine for Thanksgiving, with the red fruit notes enhancing the traditional turkey dinner flavors. “You may need more than one bottle to satisfy the in-laws!” jokes Tasting Room Manager Danae.

Chapin Family Vineyards Montepulciano  

This wine is the perfect choice if you’re looking for an elegant, light-bodied red, packed with an abundance of aromas and flavors of cherry, blackberry, currant, and fresh herbs, with soft, round tannins, and a smooth, dry finish. Pair this with a backyard sunset as the cool evening breezes set in.

Fazeli Cellars Megregan

“Mehregan” is the Persian harvest festival celebrating the Autumn solstice. This earthy Grenache (with a touch of Shiraz) lovely to sip as we prepare for winter and toast to the close of our long summer days. It’s got bright Bing cherry cola and anise notes and a medium body, with soft supple tannins on the finish.  

Lorimar Winery Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre

This quintessential Rhône Valley-style blend is the perfect wine for the cooler fall months, boasting aromas of red currant, ripe plum, cocoa and a pleasant touch of Red Vines.

Wilson Creek Winery Cinsault

This bright, vibrant sipper is the ultimate light red wine for this time of year. When grown and harvested in Temecula Valley, Cinsault features all the fall fruit flavors from cherries to berries to complement the comfort foods of the season.

Leoness Cellars Grenache

A blend of 78% Grenache, 14% Syrah, 8% mourvedre, and aged in French and American oak barrels for 18 months, this wine is medium-bodied with aromas and flavors of raspberries and cherries complemented by hints of tobacco, earth, and spice leading into a soft, lengthy finish.

“During this unique transition between seasons, my favorite wine is our 2017 Grenache,” says Leoness Director of Hospitality Leonard Grose. “With its lighter body and vibrant rhubarb and clove hints on the nose and palate, this wine is perfect for a hearty fall chicken soup with lentils, carrots, and celery.”

Europa Village Primitivo

This jewel-toned Primitivo dazzles with aromas of raspberry crème, cherry liqueur, and autumn leaves. On the palate it stays true to the Puglian style, balancing fresh acidity and a pleasant jamminess, with flavors of black cherry, and smooth, well-integrated tannins. This is the perfect wine to enjoy as the sun sets a bit earlier and the twilight beckons us to enjoy the lovely fall weather.

A LITTLE SOMETHING SWEET

Bel Vino Winery Late Harvest Blanc

Grapes harvested later in the season have a chance to develop rich, ripe aromas and accumulate high sugar levels. When pressed and vinified the resulting wines are lusciously sweet and make a stellar pairing for salty cheeses and dessert courses – or can serve as dessert course themselves!

“What better way to experience fall, than with a late-harvested, intensely flavorful and aromatic Late Harvest Blanc,” says Mike Janko from Bel Vino Winery. “The relatively high sugar levels balanced by bright acidity make it great for sipping or to be enjoyed as a dessert wine.”

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California Wine Month ~ Temecula Style!

September 2nd, 2021

This September marks the 17th consecutive year that California’s governor has proclaimed California Wine Month; in honor of our state’s contribution as the leading wine industry in the United States.

Cheers to CA Wine Month!

September is the perfect time to visit Temecula Valley Wine Country. Besides the fact that it is our favorite month, we’ve got several events and promotions up our sleeves and we want you to celebrate with us!

Here are the highlights:

SIP Passport Program

When: Valid Monday through Friday the entire month of September (excluding the Labor Day holiday).

What: Passport for a full tasting flight at any five participating Temecula Valley wineries; includes souvenir wine glass. Passport includes discounts on wine purchases, wine club memberships and dining.

Tickets: $50 per person. For more information and tickets, click here.

#DRINKTEMECULA Social Media Challenge
Do you love social media almost as much as you love Temecula wine? Then this challenge is for you! The entire month of September, we’re inviting you to post a picture each day showing how you are celebrating wine month without comment; you nominate a friend to do the same, both of you using the hashtag #drinktemecula

Virtual Happy Hour
On Tuesday, September 21, from 4 – 5 PM Pacific, join us as we toast #CaliforniaWineMonth with a Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country happy hour! We will be sipping some amazing Temecula Valley wine and chatting about how harvest is going at so grab a glass and come hang out with us for a little mid-week wine break! #DrinkTemecula #LiveGlassFull #CaliforniaWines

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Blue Cheese and Walnut Stuffed California Figs

September 1st, 2021

Figs, blue cheese and walnuts soar in this wine-friendly appetizer. Invite a few friends to drop by, then assemble this super simple hors d’oeuvre with juicy California figs, creamy blue cheese, toasted walnuts and a drizzle of honey. It’s an easy app that’s ready in five minutes, max. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay.

CA Grown Happy Hour at Home: Credit CA Grown

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 8 fresh California figs, halved  
  • ¼ pound (125 g) blue cheese, such as Point Reyes Farmstead Original Blue or Bay Blue 
  • ½ pound (250 g) walnuts, toasted and chopped 
  • Honey for drizzling 

Directions:

Cut the figs in half. Cut a small slice off the curved side so the figs stay stable. Place the figs on a serving plate and top each fig with a nugget of blue cheese. Sprinkle generously with the walnuts. Drizzle with honey. Serve immediately.    

Suggested Pairings:

Avensole Winery ~ 2020 Chardonnay – Notes of tropical fruit are balanced with minerality and stone fruits as they greet the palate, followed by a luxurious, creamy vanilla finish.

Chapin Family Vineyards ~ 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon – Provides an array of smooth flavors such as blueberry, mocha, plum and vanilla. 

Monte De Oro Winery ~ 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon – Classic black cherry, plums, and craisins come alive when you start drinking it, with brown sugar, black pepper, and fennel rounding out the taste.

Peltzer Winery ~ 2019 Chardonnay – Yellow apple, apricot, and lemon meringue pie.

Recipe and photo courtesy of CA Grown and the Wine Institute of California

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September Winery Events

September 1st, 2021

Nothing screams “Harvest Time!” more than a good old-fashioned grape stomp! Between harvest and California Wine Month, September is always a busy time in Temecula Valley Wine Country and our wineries are busy planning a few celebrations of their own.

Sipping through harvest

Akash Winery 
Comedy Night | September 3rd at 7:30pm | $25 per person | A night of nonstop fun with wine, food, and comedy on our patio. Food truck available onsite. Member discounts apply. | For reservations, please visit www.akashwinery.com/events  

Bel Vino Winery 
Journey Tribute Concert | September 10th 6pm-10pm | ESCAPE is the Ultimate Journey Tribute band that faithfully re-captures the thrill generations of JOURNEY fans remember. Playing all the classics such as: Don’t Stop Believin’, Anyway You Want It, Open Arms and more!!!  Contact heyday.com for your tickets. 

Callaway Vineyard & Winery 
Sip, Stomp & Play Annual Grape Stomp and Harvest Festival | September 11th | Tickets: $125.00 General Public, $112.50 Wine Club Members, $90.00 Kids ages 4-11 | Grape stomping time has officially arrived, and you won’t want to miss out on this epic event! Grab your friends and family for this unforgettable, undeniably fun-filled grape stomp and harvest festival. Featuring: Live music, dinner, dancing, face painting, a Lucy look-alike contest, and, most of all, grape stomping contests! Show up in your most fabulous Lucille Ball costume for a chance to win prizes. Tickets include admission to the event, one glass of Callaway wine, dinner, wine specials and grape stomping. Purchase tickets at our San Diego – Gaslamp and Temecula tasting rooms or online at www.callawaywinery.com  

Danza del Sol Winery 
Small Bites with Chef Jillian | Sept. 4th 10am-12pm | Food Pairing with New Release Wine. Member $15 | Guest $18 | Reservations required please visit our website.  

Summer Send Off BBQ | Sept. 26th 11am-2pm | Live Music and raffle prizes | Members $18; Non-members $22 | Reservations required please visit our website.  

Europa Village Winery & Resorts
Salsa Nights at Bolero |Tuesday Nights September 7 & 21;  7pm-10p | Tickets: $15 Reg.; Members $12. Includes one glass of wine, beer, or Sangria | Calling all hombres and mujeres! Dust off your dancing shoes and join us on La Plaza at Bolero for an exhilarating night of Salsa dancing. Featuring live music by Kimba Light, Salsa lessons, Spanish wines, and tasty tapas | RSVP today – limited tickets available! Guest must be at least 21 years of age and present a valid government issued photo ID at the door. Purchase tickets at https://shop.europavillage.com/Shop/Events/Salsa-Nights

Foot Path Winery  
Food Wine and Music Event | September 18th 6:30 to 9:00pm | $35.00 wine club, $40.00 non-wine club. Includes a glass of wine, food, and live music | Please RSVP to the winery at (951) 265-9951. 

Lorimar Vineyards & Winery
Harvest Ball | September 11 6:00pm-10:00pm | General Admission $125 per person, $110 Wine Club per person | Enjoy a 4-course dinner with wine pairings, dancing, carriage rides and complimentary professional photos | Reservations required please visit www.lorimarwinery.com to purchase your tickets.

Monte De Oro Winery 
Wine Bingo | Sept. 10th 6:30p-9:00p | It’s time for Bingo, Monte De Oro style! Join us for a night of calling numbers and sipping your favorite MDO wine! Tickets are $40. Tickets includes Bingo Card (6 Bingo Games), Glass of Wine, and 3 Raffle Tickets | To purchase your tickets please visit https://shop.montedeoro.com/res-397911/Wine-Bingo.html  

Signature Food & Wine Series | Sept. 19th 11:30am-1:30pm | Tickets are $70 for Non-WC Members and $65 for WC Members | Our Signature Food & Wine Series is a culinary offering unique to Monte De Oro. Our food and wine experts put together the freshest ingredients as they take you through a multi-course showcase featuring Monte De Oro’s award-winning wine | To purchase your tickets please visit https://shop.montedeoro.com/res-397912/Signature-Food-Wine-Series.html  

Oak Mountain Winery 
Country Concert headliner Brent Payne | September 25th 7pm-9pm | Tickets $85 general admission and $75 for members. Ticket price includes one trip to the BBQ buffet | Beer and wine cash bar | Reservations required at https://shop.oakmountainwinery.com/brent-payne-country-concert-guests-p292.aspx 

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa  
Country Concert featuring Coffey Anderson |September 2nd Doors open at 6pm | Join us as we kick off our 20th Anniversary celebration with a live Country performance from Coffey Anderson with opener Kanan Road. Tickets starting as low as $45 | For reservations please visit https://www.southcoastwinery.com/concerts/country-concert-series. More concert and ticket announcements to come! 

Wilson Creek Winery 
Jerrod Neimann Concert | September 12 Doors open at 6pm | General Admission $60; Wine Club $54 | Orchestra Assigned Seating $95; Wine Club $85.50 | Upper Room VIP Wine Club Only $200 (dinner and wine included with your ticket) | Join us under the stars in the heart of wine country for an amazing up close and personal country concert with Jerrod Neimann! Tickets on sale now at https://shop.wilsoncreekwinery.com/res-418860/Jerrod-Niemann-Concert.html   
 

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It’s Official: Harvest is Here!

September 1st, 2021

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at What Goes on in the Vineyard and Winery Before, During, and After Harvest in Temecula Valley

Evening Harvest

Equipment has been washed and sanitized. Bins have been readied. Summer vacations have been enjoyed, bodies rested and refueled for the work to come.

And then it begins. That perfect brix reading on the refractometer, telling winemakers and vineyard managers that the sugars in the grapes are where they want them to be. A quick sampling of a few berries straight off the vine indicate perfect phenolic ripeness – the grape skins have lost unpleasant, bitter flavors and have softened into something that will produce delicious, balanced wine. It’s go-time – the official kick-off of harvest. And it’s all underway in Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country right now.

This is a busy time in the vineyard and the winery, and no day is the same. We caught up with a few Temecula Valley winemakers and winery staff to check in on how it’s all going, and what a typical day might look like at the winery during harvest. We also asked them if they have any superstitious, pre-harvest rituals and found out that winemaking isn’t all science and agriculture… it’s also a little bit of magic as well.

THE PREP

For the team at Peltzer Farm & Winery, the days leading up to harvest contain an energy shared by all. “Harvest season is usually an exciting state of limbo,” says Tasting Room Manager Danae Wager. “The grapes tell US when they’re ripe, so we wait on the sidelines in anticipation as the season begins. Typically, farmers wait until dark to pick the fruit, which preserves the sugar and acid levels needed to curate the desired end result that ends up in the bottle.” 

Oak Mountain Winery owner Valerie Andrews paints a picture of the days and weeks leading up to the big moment when harvest officially begins:

“Oak Mountain’s harvest routine is to hurry and bottle everything in the tanks so we will have room for harvest. Next, we wash and test all equipment, as it has been sitting all year. Steve, by this time, has ordered yeasts and supplies so we are ready when Mother Nature says ‘go.’ We check last year’s timing of when we picked grapes and start testing sugar levels, then cross our fingers that we can get pickers to pick when we are ready. Fortunately, it always works out! Now it’s time for a glass of wine.”

Nick Palumbo, owner and winemaker at Palumbo Family Vineyards and Winery, compares prepping for harvest to getting ready for a busy night of service at a restaurant.

“[It’s like] Mise en Place,” he explains. “This is a French term often used in professional cooking that roughly translates into ‘Get your act together!’ But what it really means is, before you get started, gather all you will need, do your prep work and make sure everything is in place. The best run restaurants as well as wineries know this well and plan ahead. Harvest is and can be unpredictable, chaotic and fast-paced but if you are ready it can also be smooth and predictable.”

Some pre-harvest rituals are more superstitious. “We bury 11 pennies in the ground on the first day of harvest,” says Sharon Cannon, Director of Operations for Akash Winery. “It’s an Indian good luck tradition that [Co-owner] Mrs. Patel started for the winery.”

Or they’re just plain sensible:

Says Joe Wiens, winemaker at Wiens Family Cellars: “We don’t really have any pre-harvest rituals besides stocking up the fridge with beer!”

THE REAL WORK

So once all of the pieces are in place, what does an actual day of working harvest look like?


Joe Wiens shares a snapshot of what the day-to-day can look like during this exciting time in Wine Country:

“We typically get in at 6 or 7 AM.  One of us will start with turning caps on our fermenting reds, while the other weighs the newly delivered fruit.  We taste the fermenting reds (not the most fun thing in the world at 6am!) and decide if anything is ready for pressing.  The remainder of our workday entails racking settling wines, pressing and processing, and running lab analysis.”

While it’s exhausting work, Joe credits the sense of community and shared responsibility for getting them through it. “Our team has been together for years, and everyone is trained on many of our responsibilities from processing, to preparing yeast additions, to lab analysis and data entry,” he says. “We get the music going early and all work really well together to make the long days feel shorter.”

“Our days here at Palumbo start as early as 2 am and can last well into the night,” shares Nick Palumbo. “Then off to sleep for a few hours before starting again. We are a small, family winery so everyone gets involved. We are in the field sorting leaves out of the bins, then off to the crush pad for processing, fermenting, pressing, and barreling. There is a lot to do but somehow, we get it done each year. As we have always said we don’t have a choice; it will get done somehow.”

“A typical day consists of early morning vineyard visits to collect grape samples for analysis, brix and temperature readings on all fermenting wines, smelling the top of each fermenting tank to make sure there are no ‘off’ odors or nutrient deficiencies, and most importantly, tasting each lot daily,” explains Olivia Bue, Winemaker at Robert Renzoni Vineyards.

“And, once the reds come in, the real harvest bootcamp begins, with pumpovers three times a day, with at least three hours off in between. This involves sanitizing all hoses and pumps before and after each lot. As the reds approach the end of alcoholic fermentation its time press the wine off the skins… Each day consists of a lot of cleaning and scrubbing.”

Olivia says the hardest part of her day is when the alarm goes off at 3 AM. It’s also incredibly rewarding with moments of beauty as well. “[I love] processing the grapes as the sun rises,” she says. “I also love when the last lot is pressed out – not because harvest is over, but because I can look back and feel proud of all the blood, sweat, and tears put into the vintage.”

She also loves the team building that happens over their traditional 9AM happy hours.

Over at Wilson Creek, the day-to-day looks similar. And they get ready for the mammoth task ahead by going out for pizza and beer the Friday before harvest begins.

“We start picking at 10 PM and, depending upon the varietal, we finish with the harvest crew at 3 am,” says Wilson Creek Winery winemaker Gus Vizgirda. “The cellar crew kicks in on the crushpad at 4 AM. Whites are crushed and pressed and put in the tanks. Reds are crushed and put in the tank for two weeks for fermentation.”

With a total of 140 acres to harvest, this goes on for about 2.5 months, with two crews of twenty people working seven days a week. This hard work is recognized and rewarded in two ways. First, Gus arrives every morning at sunrise when the grapes are on the crushpad, and he plays the bugle for everyone – including the grapes.

Head on over to Lorenzi Estate Wines and you will see their crew at 3 AM, planning the day, taking readings, doing pumpovers, and picking crop starting around 4 AM, with the goal of being done by lunchtime so that they can avoid that Southern California midday heat in early Fall.

At Gershon Bachus, the dawn patrol continues, with the picking crew arriving around 3AM as well to pick the fruit and drop it at the winery’s production area.

“Our team arrives by 7AM,” explains Gershon Bachus owner Christina Falik and winemaker Dakota Denton. “For our hillside vineyards, we have a team picking out the leaves and bad clusters as the grapes take a ride on the elevator. The winemaking staff secures the connections to our concrete tanks where the fruit will go through fermentation.  Then the pumpovers begin in order to make sure the must stays wet. This is done twice per day, until fermentation is done. Harvest for us goes fast, and is intense, as the fruit tends to ripen at a similar pace.”

What many people don’t realize is just how physically demanding harvest and winemaking are, requiring long hours, heavy-lifting, and early starts. “On a complicated day you can crush/destem, pump over, press, and move wine into barrels,” continues Christina. “This is not a day for the weary.”

The excitement – and work! – of harvest isn’t limited to those working in the vineyards or cellar. Oftentimes, the experience is shared by everyone at the winery.

“We love to gather and watch or participate in picking the fruit and making memories together,” says Danae at Peltzer. “Seeing the process firsthand and learning exactly how each grape is processed reignites our passion for farming and high-quality winemaking. We typically order pizza and invite the families of our staff to join in the festivities and ask as many questions as possible!” 

THE AFTERMATH

And when it’s all over? At Wilson Creek, once harvest is complete, the team has a huge – and well-deserved – harvest party among the vines.

And they’re not the only ones celebrating a job well done. “Our end-of-harvest ritual is a PARTY,” says Christina. “Since our season is so short, it precedes the holiday season and is just as festive.”

Photo courtesy of Matthew Burlile- Instagram: @temeculaphotography

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