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.
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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