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Spring Has Sprung in Wine Country. Here’s What’s Happening in Our Vineyards

Monday, April 4th, 2022

Spring in the Vineyards

While many view harvest as the most exciting time of year in Wine Country, Spring is also a season worth celebrating as it marks the start of the growing season for the grapevine. After months of chilly weather and bare vines, the first signs of life in the vineyard begin. It’s a beautiful time to be out in Wine Country! Days are getting warmer, and bud burst has begun, marking the official kick-off to an exciting few months, watching grapes go through several stages of growth before being harvested, pressed, and produced into the delicious wines that grace our tables year-round.

“It is bud break in the vineyard, early leaves are emerging after the winter slumber and much-needed rest that all vines require to produce great fruit for great wines,” explains Greg Pennyroyal, Vineyard Manager at Wilson Creek Winery, and Professor of Viticulture at Mt. San Jacinto College. “The vineyards are all starting to develop the beautiful emerald green of early spring.”

“The early ripening white varieties started pushing out around the middle of March, and many more have followed by this time,” continues Baily Winery owner and winemaker Phil Baily. “It’s always exciting to see the dormant vines spring to life, showing little ribbons of green along the vine rows. The next few weeks will see enormous growth, as the vines enter their most photogenic time.  This is a great time to visit us!”

Owner and winemaker Nick Palumbo of Palumbo Family Vineyards compares the coming of Spring to the end of a long, restful sleep: “Our Winter pruning is done, the last of the winter storms have rolled thru (we hope!), the vines are yawning and stretching after their winter slumber, and the first few buds have started to pop. Cold mornings are keeping a few varieties in bed but some of the vineyards are reaching out as we keep a close eye on the weather. Not that we control that! Late frost can really change our growth and production, but we are lucky here in the Temecula Valley as that is rarely a problem.”

Not only are the vineyards vibrant with new life, some of Temecula Valley’s most delicious wines are flowing – bright, crisp white wines made from unique grapes like Albariño, Vermentino, Arneis, and Falanghina, gorgeous sparkling wines made in the same method as some of the best Champagnes, and rosés in all hues from pale salmon to deep magenta. Visitors to Temecula Valley can take in the stunning vineyard views at one of the many outdoor tasting areas, while enjoying the dreamy Southern California Spring weather and sipping a glass or two of world class wines.

Pennyroyal encourages wine and nature enthusiasts to look closely for the flowering taking place on the vines at this time.

“Grape flowers are very subtle, you will see them early in the season looking almost like tiny white stars in a new canopy,” he says. “Before opening up, the flower petals are held shut by a structure called the calyptra, which is like a little tight-fitting hat on the petals of the flowers. If you gently blow on them, they will pop off and float down to earth, a surprisingly entertaining pastime, especially after a glass of wine on of warm spring day.”

But so much more goes into managing our vineyards than meets the eye. They may look like they are thriving on their own; however careful attention must be paid every step of the way in order to ensure Temecula Valley wines maintain the quality levels wine lovers have come to expect when they visit.

“This time of the year the vines are experiencing their fastest growth rate, and rapidly go through the stages of bud break, flowering, fruit set, and then canopy development,” says Pennyroyal. “Just as when your children are going through their growth spurts, nutritional support is key in the vineyard. The rapid vine growth and fruit set require a well-balanced full spectrum of macro and micronutrients.”

And, while all of this work is happening, the countdown to the most exhilarating (and exhausting) time of year in a winemaker’s life – harvest – begins.

“As both a vintner and a winemaker, while many are looking at the vines, I am thinking ahead and already planning for harvest and the cellar space needed in the months to come. Exciting times for sure!” says Palumbo.

We encourage you to get out and about to visit Temecula Valley wineries this time of year. When you go, ask to speak to a winemaker, vineyard manager or worker, or even the knowledgeable tasting room staff. Pick their brain about what is going on in the vineyard right now. A glass of wine tastes so much better when you take the time to understand all that goes into producing it, from vine to grape to cellar to glass.

And, while you’re here, there may even be something more magical happening among the vines.

“There is a newly emerging branch of plant sciences called phytoacoustics, which is the study of plants’ ability to sense sound,” says Pennyroyal. “If this is true, I am confident that after a long winter of being alone the vines would love your company and will be listening for the sounds of laughter. We look forward to seeing you in the vineyard.”

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This International Women’s Day, We Celebrate the Inspiring Women of Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2022

Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country wouldn’t run without the immensely talented women that make the region so special. From tasting room staff, to winemakers and assistant winemakers, to women in leadership, our Wine Country is jam packed with some fierce and fiery female power. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day – Tuesday, March 8 – is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.” In celebration, we caught up with some of our favorite Wine Country women to and to ask them what this means to them, and learn more about their journey in wine.

These interviews may have been edited for brevity and/or clarity.

Emily Bloom, Enologist and Vineyard Coordinator, South Coast and Carter Estate Wineries.

Emily Bloom

Emily started her wine career as an intern at South Coast Winery in 2015, and has since expanded her role to work for South Coast’s sister winery – Carter Estate – as well. She grew up in San Diego, and always loved the climate of Southern California (what’s not to love?). “We have the ability to grow many different fruits and vegetables,” she says. “Including grapes!”

TVWA: What was the journey like for you to get to where you are today in your career?

EB: Having always been interested in agriculture, I attended Iowa State University for horticulture and worked on many different agricultural operations from tropical flowers to blueberries. I have found wine production to be creative and fun, and I cannot imagine myself in any other industry. Continued education is so important for professional growth. I have a certificate in Viticulture form Washington State University and will be starting WSET Level 4 this spring. 

TVWA: The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow” – What does this mean to you?

EB: A sustainable future in the wine industry is not possible without the inclusivity of those who identify as female, non-binary, and people of color. The recognition of inclusivity in a male dominated industry is crucial to the success and growth of the industry. Bringing different backgrounds and experiences to the table offers ways to improve and diversify the wine industry. We need to remove any existing barriers to enter the wine business and open paths for a diverse world of wine making. Just as wine should be enjoyed by all, a career in the wine industry should be accessible to all.

TVWA: What sorts of things do you do to lift other women up and support them personally and/or professionally?

EB: I very much enjoy mentoring our interns who work harvest, as well as leading the tasting room staff to shadow our production work. It is rewarding to be able to teach and mentor, and it gives me continued enthusiasm for our wine industry.

TVWA: Tell us something that many people would be surprised to find out about you!

EB: Outside of wine, I love to machine knit and sew! I made matching knit beanies for the production crew a couple years ago which was a lot of fun! Being able to create things brings such a feeling of joy and accomplishment.

Olivia Bue, Winemaker, Robert Renzoni Vineyards

Olivia Bue

An Encinitas native, it’s no surprise Olivia returned to Temecula in search of a winemaking position after graduating from UC Davis with a Viticulture and Enology degree, and working for Molly Dooker in McLaren Vale, South Australia, and Cakebread Cellars in Napa Valley. Olivia was hired and mentored by longtime Temecula Valley winemaker Gus Vizgirda in 2012, which allowed her to take the next step as Assistant and now Head Winemaker at Robert Renzoni Vineyards, where she has been for the past 8+ years.

TVWA: How long have you been in Temecula Wine Country? What drew you to the region?

OB: What drew me to Temecula Valley was the possibility to grow with the region and make an impact in the region’s accomplishments. Our main goal in Temecula Valley is to get recognized for our quality wines beyond just southern California. If I can be part of that movement, the decision to come South 10 years ago was beyond worthwhile.

TVWA: How did you get to where you are today in your career?

OB: I grew up surrounded by incredibly strong women. My mom is a breast cancer survivor and badass woman. Her positive attitude toward life and not allowing anything to get in the way of achieving your dreams was engrained in me at an early age. I never felt inferior as a woman in a male-dominated industry. I was more insecure of my age than gender in my earlier 20s. I was learning how to make wine in school before I was legal to drink it! I truly fell in love with the science and production of winemaking before the actual taste. 

TVWA: The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow” – What does this mean to you?

OB: I’ve chosen to not let discrimination deter me from achieving my goals. I’ve been lucky that being a woman has not held me back in any way. At Robert Renzoni Vineyards, the team has always advocated for me being a woman winemaker. Surrounding yourself by people who uplift and support you is key! What I love about wine is I’m judged on the final product, nothing else. 

TVWA: What sorts of things do you do to lift other women up and support them personally and/or professionally?

OB: I know many talented woman winemakers with their own personal labels, some of whom I went to school with at UC Davis, and I make sure to support their product and stock my wine fridge with their new releases.

Also, after becoming a mom 3 years ago, juggling work and family was/is challenging. Staying in touch with other women winemakers who recently expanded their families has been so motivating. It’s not easy working full time while being a mother of 2, especially during harvest, but it’s important to me for my kids to see what hard work and drive looks like. I’m so enthusiastic and passionate about making wine. It brings joy to my life which ultimately makes me a better mom. Early morning pump-overs will be part of the harvest norm for them.  Can’t wait to put them to work!

TVWA: Tell us something that many people would be surprised to find out about you!

OB: I grew up as a competitive gymnast; back flips were part of my everyday.

Patricia O’Brien, Vice President of Sales and Operations, Danza del Sol and Masia de la Vinya Wineries

Patricia O’Brien

Patricia and her husband moved to Temecula from Carlsbad 19 years ago when she was pregnant with their second child. After leaving her corporate job to be a stay-at-home mom, she quickly realized she missed everyday adult interactions. Another mom pal of hers worked at a winery and encouraged her to apply for a position as Wine Club Manager. She got the job and has been in the business ever since.

TVWA: The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow” – What does this mean to you?

PO: As a mother of two very strong, sassy, smart and independent girls, I support gender equality now because I want them to have the same opportunities in sports, education, and careers as our son.  Working towards gender equality, I believe will make our future generations so much stronger. ‘Cause let’s face it; women get things done!

TVWA: What sorts of things do you do to lift other women up and support them personally and/or professionally? 

PO: Personally, I try to set an example for what it means to be present in not just my personal life but professional too.  My mother instilled in my siblings and I the Maya Angelou quote, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  So, I’m a firm believer a person who feels appreciated will always do more than expected. Here’s a few things I do to lift other women in my personal/professional life:

  1. Professional Development: At Danza del Sol Winery and Masia de la Vinya Winery we have a professional development program that assist employees who are interested in expanding their wine or wine business knowledge by participating in WSET or Sommelier certification. We also pay for our staff to participate in the TVWA CHIP (Certified Hospitality Industry Professional) program.
    1. Friendships: I also take the time to build friendships with other “women of wine” in Temecula.  Some of the best wine industry leaders I know are women who come from this Valley!  I appreciate their friendship, honesty, and value their advice.  I love that I can call them any time to seek their counsel or just to meet up for lunch or a glass of wine.  There are so many to name… you know who you are. 
    2. Appreciation: I’m a firm believer that a person who feels appreciated will always do more than expected. So, I try my best every day to incorporate one of these phrases in my personal and professional life:
      1. “Thank you, I appreciate you.”
      2. “Appreciate that, thanks.”
      3. “I appreciate the time it took for you to __________.” 

You should try it and see what results you get!

TVWA: Tell us something that many people would be surprised to find out about you! This could be a unique skill or hobby, a funny anecdote, language spoken, etc.

PO: For as strong and as badass as I’m perceived to be, I am a sucker for Hallmark Movies.  I know right, me? Yep!!!  Nothing takes my mind off the stresses of life more than a nice bottle of wine, gourmet popcorn and a predictable, over the top, sappy, two-hour Hallmark movie!  And don’t get me started about Countdown to Christmas Hallmark movies.  Don’t judge me!

Christina Falik, “Chief Wineaux,” Gershon Bachus Vintners

Christina Falik

Christina came to Temecula Valley 17 years ago from Laguna Beach, where she was raising her son with husband Ken, and running their marketing company. Being from New York, they moved inland to escape the coastal fog and enjoy the sunshine. After purchasing their 21 acres of land perched atop of a hill with “Views like Tuscany,” Christina says the wine bug hit her.

TVWA: The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow” – What does this mean to you? 

CF: Equality in general is vital for the growth of our society.  For each and every person looking for a job, or job advancement, it is essential that their talent is recognized and the pay to be the same regardless of gender, creed, or race.  Anything less, is unacceptable.

TVWA: What sorts of things do you do personally and/or professionally to lift other women up and support them personally and/or professionally?  

CF: I mentor women who have little or no experience.  I will take my time to teach them a trade, show them how I manage in the world today. I stand alongside my friends and associates in their time of need and offer my help and support whenever they struggle. I also believe that being positive is essential, and sometimes that trait needs to be encouraged. Wine Production has made great strides for women and the opportunities are there for those who are not afraid of the work or the hours. 

TVWA: Tell us something that many people would be surprised to find out about you! I used to be shy and I am a Pollyanna. I look at the world through rose-colored glasses. I am pretty open these days, but it was a struggle for me as a younger person. I was not always outspoken, and I certainly did not like public speaking.  It took a lot of time to find my voice and pitch.

Wendy Holder, VP of Marketing, Wilson Creek Winery

Wendy Holder

Wendy has been in Temecula Valley for a whopping 43 years! The things she must have seen! She began her career with Rancon Financial, where she worked for 14 years with Dan Stephenson, someone she desicribes as “An entrepreneurial visionary who contributed to the early development of “Rancho California” now known as Temecula.” She credits him for introducing her to the marketing profession, and she has since grown her experience in advertising, hospitality, and entrepreneurship herself. In 2009, she joined Wilson Creek to work alongside Bill Wilson in growing the iconic Temecula winery.

TVWA: The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow” – What does this mean to you?  

WH: I am pleased to see how the roles and positions women now occupy in Temecula Wine Country have grown dramatically over the years. I feel the contribution of women has never been greater and their growing success has come directly from hard work, dedication, and passion for the wine industry in the valley. These key qualities are essential in any workplace and have been the best method of overcoming gender inequalities. 

TVWA: What sorts of things do you do to lift other women up and support them personally and/or professionally?

WH: I love to share my knowledge and experience by supporting, mentoring, teaching others and building trust. Confidence encourages initiative. Initiative brings personal and professional growth. I firmly believe women who commit themselves fully to their profession or personal endeavors, seek to always learn and grow, and remain steadfast and not dissuaded by difficulties, will always excel.

TVWA: Tell us something that many people would be surprised to find out about you!

WH: I was actively involved in 4-H in my youth, showing horses, sheep, goats and dogs. I became the Riverside County Horse Show Champion when I was fifteen years old. It was during these years that I was mentored by one of my 4-H leaders, Audrey Cilurzo. Many know Audrey as one of the pioneers of Temecula Wine Country, a very intelligent and caring person with a strong business sense and a consummate professional. It was with Audrey that I poured my first glass of wine at the balloon and wine festival over 32 years

Check back for part 2 of this story on Tuesday, March 8th, International Women’s Day, as we continue to celebrate our fabulous women in wine.

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How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day All Month – or Year! – Long in Temecula Valley

Tuesday, February 1st, 2022

We can think of no better way to experience romance than while sipping wine and taking in the rolling hills, hot air balloons, and gorgeous vistas of Southern California’s Temecula Valley. Whether you’re planning on hitting up some wineries with your significant other, hanging with your best gal (or guy!) pal, or rolling solo for a little self-care, we’ve got the wines and the experiences to help you celebrate your best Valentine’s Day yet, Wine Country-style.

GETTING OUT AND ABOUT

If you’re headed out to Wine Country for some in-person swirling and sipping, check out these fun special events and ongoing winery programs that are sure to get the romance flowing year-round.

SIP Passport:

This ticket to Wine Country allows you and your honey to sip your way through Temecula Valley at your own pace. Enjoy a curated wine flight at any five of the participating wineries, Monday through Friday (Valentine’s Day just so happens to fall on a Monday this year!) and see where the experience takes you.

Monte de Oro Signature Food and Wine Series:

If you’re looking to avoid the crowds on February 14th, kick off the romance a little bit early at this feast for the senses including a multi-course culinary experience with a selection of Monte de Oro’s award-winning wines. Still determined to get out on the town on Valentine’s Day itself? Snag a ticket to Monte de Oro’s Valentine’s Day dinner, with a four-course meal, wine pairings, and live music.

Bottaia Blending Lab:

Sometimes, the best way spice things up is by taking on a new activity together. Become winemaker for a day at Bottaia’s unique wine blending lab, where you will roll up your sleeves and make your very own custom wine blend, complete with a cork and label. Lay the wine down to open up on your next anniversary or special occasion, or sip it while celebrating Valentine’s Day 2022.

Doffo Winery Sweetheart Dinner:

Romance doesn’t need to be all chocolate and roses, right? On Saturday, February 12, hit up everyone’s favorite moto-themed winery for a decadent four-course meal with wine pairings while rubbing elbow’s with the tight-knit Doffo family and fellow wine (and motorcycle) enthusiasts.

Galentine’s at Peltzer:

On February 11, ditch the guys and celebrate being single (or single for a day) while you dance, shop, sip, and nosh the night away. Enjoy local bites and food trucks, live music, a pop-up market, and of course, lots and lots of Temecula Valley wine. 

Wine and Wellness at Akash:

Sometimes connecting with your partner means reconnecting with yourself as well. Akash Winery not only offers ongoing yoga and fitness classes among the vines, but they have also launched a one-of-a-kind Wellness + Wine club, featuring access to yoga, Lagree-inspired workouts, and kickboxing classes, not to mention post-workout sips and monthly bottles to take home. Nothing like a little sweat – or zen – to get in the mood for romance.

STAYING COZY AT HOME

If you’re looking forward to a little Netflix and chill this Valentine’s Day, you’re going to need a steady supply of wine. Here are a few of our favorites for sipping with your favorite partner in wine.

Bubbles

And we don’t mean the bath kind! Temecula Valley produces some spectacular traditional method sparkling wines, made with quality grapes and painstaking attention to detail, for the perfect kickoff to any special occasion (or to sip, like we do, on any ordinary Monday).

A few to try:

Thornton Winery Brut NV, $54 – Close your eyes and you’re in Champagne! A blend of classic Champagne grapes Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this crisp, clean sparkler boasts juicy apple, pear, and tropical aromas, and a toasty, creamy finish.

Bottaia 2020 Rosé Spumante, $45 – We love the offbeat blend of Italian grapes in this dry, soft-pink bubbly, with notes of strawberry, raspberry, melon, and lime zest.

South Coast Winery Ruby Cuvée Sparkling Syrah NV, $24 – Need something bright and juicy to pair with that box of Valentine’s Day chocolates? Pop a bottle of this deep crimson-colored red sparkling wine for a decadent treat.

Big, Bold Reds

There’s something about a rich, velvety red wine that just oozes romance. Temecula Valley is known for producing some truly exceptional full-bodied reds that are perfect for sipping with your significant other – with a special dinner or simply while curled up on the couch and enjoying each other’s company.

A few to try:

Baily Winery 2018 Meritage, $75

This rich, complex red is an elegant blend of classic Bordeaux grape varieties. It is lean but powerful, with ripe berry fruit, plum, sweet baking spices and an intriguing tobacco note.

Leoness Cellars 2018 Signature Series “Eloquent”, $99

This silky blend of Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel is the ultimate contemplation wine. Dark berry fruit aromas are framed by notes of sweet and savory spice like vanilla, black pepper, chocolate, and anise.  

Fazeli Cellars 2017 Shiraz, $50

Taking its name from the fabled ancient Persian city of Shiraz, as well as the alternate spelling of “Syrah,” this wine boasts silky black currant and blackberry layered with vanilla, sweet tobacco, mocha and black pepper.

Something Sweet

Who needs a box of Valentine’s Day chocolates when you can sip your dessert with one of these indulgent sweet and fortified wine selections? Pair them with an after-dinner sweet treat, a salty cheese course, or nothing at all – they’re just that tasty.

A few to try:

Callaway Vineyard & Winery Late Harvest Cabernet Sauvignon, $26

Grapes spend extra time on the vines to develop the ripest possible fruit notes as well as elevated sugar levels to create this smooth, sensuous treat, packed with black cherry and raspberry jam, cinnamon and a hint of licorice.

Mount Palomar Limited Reserve Tawny Port, $65

This extremely limited bottling made from 100% estate grown grapes is made in the style of the great fortified wines of Portugal. A blend of 11- and 10-year tawny port, this rich, amber nectar is ripe with aromas of molasses, fig, tangerine, and brown sugar.

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time – and Wine – of the Year

Friday, December 3rd, 2021

How Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country celebrates the holiday season
(Some of it might surprise you!)

Regardless of how you celebrate them, the holidays are a time of tradition. Whether you’re sipping something special while trimming your Christmas Tree, popping a bottle of bubbly to pair with your latkes during Chanukah (a seriously delicious pairing, by the way), or simply sitting on the couch with your favorite rustic red while watching everyone else prepare for the holiday season, chances are you and your family and friends do something year after year that makes the holiday season memorable for you.

Nowhere is the sense of tradition more prominent than in Wine Country. We had a blast catching up with some of our favorite winery personalities to find out how they celebrate the holidays, what special meals and libations are on their tables this time of year, and what unique rituals and traditions they practice with their friends and families.

For Sharon Cannon, Director of Operations at Akash Winery, it’s all about the perfect seasonal pairing, which, in this case, is Seafood and Champagne by the pool while playing backyard Cricket with her Australian family. Sound chilly? Thankfully, Australia is in the middle of Summer during our Winter months.

A love of wine clearly runs in the family for Danza del Sol and Masia de la Vinya winemaker Justin Knight, who takes advantage of them all being together during the holidays to fine tune their tasting skills. “For the past few years, we have done a blind tasting of red wines (usually 5-6 different varietals from different regions), ranging from a very modest price – gradually getting to a what I would consider an expensive bottle,” he explains. “Then everyone tastes the wines and rates them at their own pace. Of course, some Temecula wines are included. Then we do the big reveal. It makes for a fun time!”

After enjoying their typical holiday meal of Prime Rib and Cabernet Sauvignon, Steve Thornton of Thornton Winery has a similar tradition in his home. “We all get together and play games,” he says. “Once the kids go to sleep, we pull out a bunch of local wines and vote on which one is the best. Whoever wins takes the wine home – if any is left.”

Walter Carter, Director of Hospitality for Danza del Sol Winery, stumbled upon a perfect pairing for an unconventional holiday meal, and never looked back. “Our first holiday together, my wife and I wanted to do something non-traditional, so we decided to make ribs as the main protein and we paired it with a Danza del sol Syrah,” he shares. “It was delicious! So now every year we make ribs and try to discover a new Syrah to pair with it. It’s one of the things I look forward to most every year.” Thankfully, Temecula Valley just so happens to be great region for world class Syrah.

Akash winemaker Renato Saís also appreciates a good Syrah this time of year, pairing it with roast turkey and menudo, a spicy Mexican tripe stew, in a tradition that was passed down from his mom and his “Jefecita,” or “little chief” – AKA his grandma.

Temecula Valley Brand Marketing Partner Devin Parr has one of the most bizarre traditions we’ve heard of. Rather than stuffing traditional stockings hung over the fireplace, she and her family stuff nylon pantyhose – both legs! – full of presents. “I have no idea how this started, but we have been stuffing pantyhose for generations in our family,” she explains. “As I kid, I could think of nothing more exciting – or occasionally terrifying if you forgot it was Christmas – than seeing this giant, stuffed half-body lying on the floor full of presents on Christmas morning. My husband eventually joined in the tradition, and now he puts a fantastic bottle of wine in the toe of each leg of my stocking. Don’t tell Santa.”

Oak Mountain Winery owner Val Andrews celebrates more than just Christmas over the holidays. Her family’s festivities kick off on December 24, which is also her birthday. “We get treated every year to our friends’ winter wonderland house for a dinner that includes smoked rack of lamb and twice baked potatoes paired with a bottle of Oak Mountain Pinotage,” she says. “For Christmas, we start with family breakfast, which rolls into a lunch of cold cuts, sandwiches, and a snack with some Sparkling Brut from Oak Mountain. Dinner will be a 5-hour smoked pork crown roast and smoked baby potatoes in garlic and rosemary paired with our Tempranillo.”

For Christine Foote of Foot Path Winery, it’s all about girl power over the holidays. She has two sisters, who each have a daughter. Every year for the past sixteen years, they have done a Sister-Daughter outing. This year, they plan to travel to Texas to welcome the newest addition – Alana – to the family. Of course, a ready supply of Foot Path wine has already been sent out to Texas, so all are ready to properly toast the inauguration of Christine’s first grandchild into this touching tradition. “We do this to honor our mom,” says Christine. “The Christmas of 1995, we all went to see a ballet and then for lunch. That following April, mom passed away at age 68. So, we decided to revise the event.”

Whatever your family tradition is this holiday season, we hope you spend it surrounded by love, laughter, and, of course, a healthy dose of Temecula Valley wine.

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It’s Official: Harvest is Here!

Wednesday, 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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Mid-Week Wine Tasting Guide

Thursday, August 5th, 2021

For many, summer vacation is quickly coming to an end.  But, how about squeezing in one more little get-a-way before the dog days of summer are over?

Summertime Sipping!

Whether you can get away overnight, or just want to take a day trip, a mid-week visit to Temecula Valley Wine Country should prove to be a relaxing and enjoyable break.

There are many advantages to visiting wine country during the week.  Much less busy weekdays are the perfect opportunity to allow yourself time to enjoy our 40+ member wineries’ offerings.  At a slower pace, you’ll be able to enjoy more one-on-one time with the knowledgeable wine servers (or even the winemakers and/or winery owners themselves if you’re lucky) at each of your stops.

In addition, the tasting prices tend to be lower during the week than on the weekends and some wineries even offer additional discounts if you’re tasting during the week.  And, if we haven’t convinced you yet….there’s no waiting in line to dine at our wonderful wine country restaurants that are very busy on the weekends. If you’d like to spend the night you’ll be pleased with the selection of hotels and their reduced mid-week rates.  Hotels in the area are generally booked months in advance on the weekends.

For a really special weekday deal, check out the SIP Passport. This passport allows you to visit any five wineries of your choice for $50.  Click here to purchase your passport.

While we’d love to see you at any time here in Temecula Valley Wine Country, give us a try on a Wednesday sometime….we think you’ll be glad you did!

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Harvest Season in Temecula Valley is Just Around the Corner: Here’s How to Celebrate

Thursday, August 5th, 2021

Get in the harvest spirit with these fun Wine Country events and activities

Harvest Season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – harvest! Right now, grapes are changing on the vine from hard little berries to ripe, juicy grapes ready for picking and pressing into wine. This is an intense time of year for vineyard and harvest crews as well as winemakers. Once harvest begins, they work for days on-end, picking grapes at night or in the early morning hours to keep them cool. It’s physical work, but the fruits of their labor – delicious bottles of Temecula Valley wine – make it all worth it.

It’s a beautiful time to be out in the vineyards though! The vines are lush with bright green foliage and big bunches of plump, colorful grapes. Local wineries are also gearing up for their annual harvest events, inviting visitors to take part in the festivities. From grape stomps to themed parties, here are a few Temecula Valley events worth checking out this harvest season.

South Coast Winery

Every Friday and Sunday, from September 10 through September 26, South Coast Winery will be holding their Grape Stomp events. Grape Stomps are composed of two-person teams, and the winner of each of these friendly competitions will receive a bottle of the special South Coast Winery 20th Anniversary Blend.

Tickets start at $168 and include a wine flight for each person and a case of wine per two participants as part of the ticket price. Cases can be mixed and matched.

For more information and to reserve your spot, click HERE.

Danza del Sol Winery

Have you ever tasted wine straight from the barrel? It’s an amazing way to see how wine develops with time, and get a sense of its life-cycle before it makes it to the bottle and, ultimately, your glass.

On September 1, Danza del Sol is opening their barrel room up to the public for wine tasting and barrel sampling at their Roll Out the Barrel event. No reservations are required, so pop in for this fun, harvest-themed celebration, and enjoy a true wine-lovers experience, along with live music and food trucks on site.

For more information, click HERE.

Doffo Winery

Aspiring winemakers will want to check out the Doffo Barrel Club, a series of hands-on events that starts with harvest and culminates with you bottling your own wine.

In September, participants will join winemaker Damian Doffo in the early hours of the morning to help harvest, de-stem, and pitch the fermentation of a half-ton of grapes. Once Spring rolls around, participants will be invited back to the winery for a special Barrel Tasting event, where they will get a chance to sample the wine and see how it’s coming along. Lastly, come harvest time in October 2022, Barrel Club members will come together again to bottle their wine. A special edition Doffo Barrel Club wine label will include each member’s name.

Each Barrel Club membership includes access to all three events, ongoing communications from Damian about how their wine is developing in barrel, the opportunity to learn firsthand about the winemaking process, and a case of the wine they had a hand in making.

For more information on the Doffo Barrel Club, click HERE.

Not ready to become a winemaker just yet? Get in the harvest spirit at Doffo’s Renaissance-themed Midsummer Night’s Dream event on August 14, and enjoy live music and performances, games, and a three-course dinner. Costumes enthusiastically welcomed! Purchase your tickets HERE.

Callaway Winery

On Saturday, September 11, grab friends and family for the annual Grape Stomp event at Callaway. This harvest celebration features fun for the whole family, including face-painting, live music, dinner, dancing, and a grape stomping competition. Participants are encouraged to show up in their best Lucille Ball costume for a chance to win prizes in the Lucy lookalike contest.

Tickets are open to the general public (kids welcome!) as well as Wine Club members, and can be purchased at Callaway’s Gaslamp and Temecula tasting rooms or online. Each ticket includes event admission, a glass of Callaway wine, dinner, wine specials, and grape stomping.

For more information and tickets, click HERE.

Want More?

If you’re itching to get really involved in harvest, many wineries offer harvest internships and welcome volunteers to help pick grapes and assist with production. Perhaps you’re a wine student or an enthusiast looking to get some hands-on experience. If this sounds like something you are interested in, don’t be afraid to peruse wine-related job boards for harvest openings, or reach out to your favorite Temecula Valley winery to see if they have any harvest opportunities. You never know – this could be your next big career move!

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Summertime! And the livin’ is easy…

Friday, July 2nd, 2021

Barbecues are a great way to enjoy the outdoors! And all that grillin’ just screams for a good red wine. But if you’re thinking it’s too warm for red, think again! With these few tips, finding the perfect summer sip won’t have to put your love of red on hold.

Grillin’ & Sippin’
  • Chill out! Pop your bottle of red wine in the fridge for about 30 mins – or in an ice chest for about half that – and you’ll be amazed at how much more refreshing it will taste.
  • No or Low Oak wines are generally fresher and fruitier.
  • Low to Moderate Alcohol levels usually equate to lower tannin levels for a wine that won’t weigh you down.
  • Light to Medium bodied wines tend to be easy on the palate, bright and light.

So, whether you’re in the backyard or on the beach – serving burgers and brats, or steak and grilled veggies – there’s tons of options for pairing your favorite Temecula Valley wine with whatever you’re serving up.

If the mainstay is red meat, a spicy Zinfandel or Syrah would be perfect. If you’re looking for a more mellow choice, a fruit forward Merlot always works; it’s also great with chicken, pork chops or fish. If your fave is a Cabernet, go ahead and drink what you like. But try not to shortchange your options. Go for a nice red blend for the best of all worlds. And don’t forget about a blush wine; there’s nothing a nice dry rosé can’t do for spicy ribs and coleslaw – or a plate of spicy hot wings!

A few Temecula Valley wine suggestions for your next barbecue:

Baily Winery ~ 2019 Rosé of Sangiovese: fun, fruity and full of character
Miramonte Winery ~ 2019 Rosé: bright strawberry | watermelon flesh | cantaloupe | iris | hibiscus | off-dry
Robert Renzoni Vineyards ~ 2016 Big Fred’s Red: ripe blueberry and black cherry, hints of caramel
Maurice Car’rie Winery ~ Cody’s Crush: cabernet sauvignon, merlot and petite sirah blend
Oak Mountain Winery ~ 2016 Merlot: aromas of black fruits such as black cherry, blackberry and cassis

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Your Toughest Wine Questions Answered

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

Geek Out on All Things Wine with These Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country Rockstars

Grapevines at Sunrise

Wine can be intimidating. We’ve all stood in the aisles of our favorite wine stores scanning the backs of labels for hints of anything that might give us a clue of what the juice in the bottle tastes like. We’ve all donned the deer-in-headlights look when a sommelier asks us what type of wines we prefer. Who hasn’t felt a sense of dread during the daunting wine service ritual, where the server waits expectantly while you swirl, sniff, sip and determine whether they may pour the wine for your guests, all eyes on you?

While being a wine expert isn’t a requirement for kicking back and enjoying a glass or two of our favorite beverage, sometimes a better understanding of how a product is made allows us to appreciate it even more.

Which is why we have brought in some of Temecula Valley Southern California’s best and brightest wine stars to answer some of your most frequently-asked wine questions!

Q: The vineyards are starting to look so pretty this time of year! What is actually going on with the vines right now?

A. Greg Pennyroyal, Vineyard Manager, Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards

As April approaches the vineyard is leaving its dormant stage and entering its first vegetative stage of budbreak. Wine Grapes (Vitis vinifera) are deciduous meaning they lose their leaves in fall and go into a dormancy period usually starting in late October and ending in April. Grapes also need a minimum of 150 Chill hours, a summation of the hours below 45 degrees, to assure they do not bud out too early and get damaged by a late frost. In Temecula, our standard “Frost Free Date” is April 15, giving a positive spin to a date that is usually not so great.

The grapes’ dormancy period also coincides with the rainy season of our Mediterranean climate – wet in winter, dry in summer, with a coastal influence. Our historical rain average for this time of year would be about ten inches; however we are under four inches to-date. This will assist in delaying a budbreak that is too early, however will require that we irrigate and add fertility as the cover crops and soil biology have had less of an opportunity to increase soil fertility.

After budbreak, the vines will enter a vegetative state where initial growth is remarkably fast. If you visit a vineyard one weekend, the following weekend will look like a different vineyard. Following this growth spurt, the vines set flowers. Grape flowers are very small and inconspicuous. When the flowers emerge, they are wrapped under a small cap called, appropriately enough, the calyptra. When the flowers are ready for pollination a gentle brush will cause the calyptra to pop off and the flower will rapidly open before your eyes, great vineyard entertainment after a glass of wine. The flowers have both male and female parts, so they do not need bees to pollinate. White wines are the first to emerge from dormancy followed by red varietals.

Q: How do winemakers get those tiny bubbles in bottles of wine?

A. Sharon Cannon, Director of Operations, Akash Winery

Those fabulous bubbles that make Champagne or sparkling wine so wonderful are products of carbon dioxide (CO2), created during the fermentation process when sugar and yeast are added to a still base wine. There are three primary ways to make sparkling wine: 

Some winemakers choose a labor-intensive traditional method of trapping the gas in the bottle, which then “lay down,” sometimes for decades, producing high-quality sparkling wine (think Champagne). The most important part of this process is the secondary fermentation, which happens as mentioned, inside the bottle. During this process, the yeast consumes the sugar which is where the carbon dioxide is produced. The wine is then left to lay on their “lees,” (dead yeast cells) for a period of time. While this may sound gross, these yeast cells are what give traditional method sparkling wines their signature toasty, yeasty, brioche-like flavors. The bottles are gradually rotated and tilted until they end up upside down, so that all of this sediment makes its way to the neck of the bottle, which is dipped into a solution to freeze the solid contents, making them easy to remove. Bottles are then topped up with the “dosage,” a combination of sugar and/or wine, donned with a cork and wire cage, and then ready for you to drink.

The Charmat Method (or tank method) is where the winemaker will use a pressurized tank for the secondary fermentation process (think Prosecco). Here the liqueur de tirage (a mix of wine, sugar and yeast) is added to the pressurized tank of still wine, in which the secondary fermentation. The wine, once ready, is then filtered and bottled from the tank. These wines are generally youthful and easy drinking!

Lastly, there is just plain carbonation, where carbon dioxide is simply added into the wine (think of your Soda Stream injecting bubbles into your water). You’ll know this one if you’ve ever had it though, as the bubbles with dissipate very quickly! 

And remember, those bubbles you have in your fridge which you are waiting for a “special occasion” to open: The special occasion is today, friends!

Q. Speaking of stuff getting into my wine, sometimes I see things floating in my bottle? Does this mean the wine is bad?

A. Jim Hart, Winemaker, Hart Winery

There are a number of things that can cause “chunkies” in wine, some of them intentional and others maybe not so intentional. In so-called “natural wines” (so-called because there really isn’t a true definition for natural wines), a certain amount of sediment and haze should be expected, as these wines are usually un-fined and unfiltered. Additionally, these wines are often made without added sulfites, and can occasionally undergo secondary fermentation in the bottle causing haze and “floaties.” More conventional wines are sometimes intentionally bottled without filtration as some winemakers believe filtration somehow strips a wine’s character (not true), and are okay with some sediment in their wine.

The most common cause of stuff floating is with wines that haven’t been properly cold or heat stabilized. Wines that aren’t properly heat stabilized will throw small amounts of haze or, in extreme cases, what appear to be floating globs in the bottle. Wines that aren’t cold stable will, when chilled, lose tartaric acid which will look like crystals (sometimes called wine diamonds).

The good thing about all these things you might find floating in your wine is that none of them are really harmful; just be careful who gets the last glass! 

Q. I love rosé. But how is it made?

A. Nick Palumbo, Winemaker, Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery

Rosé wine has gotten a bad rap from wine drinkers over the last few decades simply because so much of it has been made to appease the palate of a generation of consumers that grew up on overly sweet, processed beverages. That said there are basically three ways to make a rosé wine which can be broken down into a not-so-great way, a good way, and the best way!

Many don’t realize that all grapes, white or red, have clear juice inside when they first come off the vine. It is the skin of the grape that contains the color; so, in order to get a red wine, the winemaker needs to keep the juice in contact with the skins of a red grape in order for the wine to develop its color, along with everything else that gives the wine structure and flavor.

Some inexpensive rosé wines are simply a blend of finished Red and White wines that in different proportions can make a wine that looks the part but rarely if ever tastes anything like a classic, well-crafted rosé.

Then there is the saignée, or “to bleed” method, which is a really a good way to make two different wines from a single lot of grapes. It is also considered a way of making red wine better or more intense by “bleeding” off some of the juice early in the process, resulting in two separate lots that can be made into both a red and a rosé. If the winemaker is serious about the rosé, a very good wine can be made. However, this rosé is often considered a biproduct of the red winemaking. The locals drink that, while the winery ships the more expensive reds off to market.

The last method is an approach that wineries employ when their sole intent is to make a quality rosé, which results in a rosé that is often superior to the above methods. This method, often called “Limited Skin Maceration” (LSM) is a process in which the grapes are crushed and left in contact with the skins for a limited amount of time. The color can start to develop within minutes for grape varieties with very intense color, or can take up to 48 hours in some cases. When the desired color is achieved, the juice is separated from the skins, and fermentation is started much like a white wine would be made.

I have made wines from both saignée and LSM methods with great success, but am really proud of our current Spring release of our Rosato Secco. This wine is an LSM version of Sangiovese that is perfect for sipping by the pool, pairing with a charcuterie board, or – even better – a classic bowl of moules frites (steamed mussels and French fries) served by a beach in Southern California within miles of our beautiful Temecula Wine Country. Drink Local!

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Local Love: Our Favorite Temecula Restaurants Supporting Temecula Valley Wineries Right Now

Thursday, March 4th, 2021

Our Favorite Restaurants with Temecula Wines

Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country is a wondrous destination for discovering world-class wines, stunning vineyard views, talented winemakers, and memorable tasting experiences. But, as much as we don’t like to admit it, Temecula Valley isn’t just wine country. There is a vibrant scene in town with plenty to do and see… and even more to eat and drink.

The beauty of living in a wine region is that even if you’re not out visiting the vineyards, you can still enjoy local wines while you dine. In celebration of keeping it local, we have rounded up some of our favorite Temecula restaurants that prominently feature Temecula Valley wines, so you can keep sipping that beautiful juice, no matter where you are grabbing a bite.

Goat & Vine, 41923 Second Street, #102, Temecula, CA 92590, (951) 695-5600

For the most delicious from-scratch pizzas, sandwiches, salads, and more, head to Old Town’s Goat & Vine. Believing that “Food is more than just nourishment; it is the ultimate expression of love,” Goat & Vine’s team starts the day at 3:00 AM to handcraft pizza doughs, breads, sauces, dressings, and proteins to serve to patrons over lunch and dinner. We often say the same thing about wine and winemaking, so be sure to peruse the many Temecula Valley wine selections on the menu to find the perfect pairing for this thoughtfully prepared cuisine. 

Bluewater Grill, 26700 Ynez Court, Temecula, CA 92591, (951) 308-2722

Who doesn’t love a big platter of oysters on the half shell or melt-in-your-mouth cedar-plank salmon washed down with a cold, crisp glass of Temecula Valley Pinot Grigio? Bluewater Grill features fresh, sustainable seafood prepared to taste, as well as other delicious items like steak, burgers, and chicken. And, they don’t just offer Temecula Wines and local craft beers; they also have a “Taste of Temecula” wine flight, as well as no corkage fee for all local wines, so you can spend the day shopping the wineries for your favorite bottles, and pop one open over dinner in town.

1909, 28656 Old Town Front Street, Temecula, CA 92590, (951) 252-1902

Named for the year the old Machado building was rebuilt after burning down in 1908, 1909 was originally home to a trading post, livery, auto shop, church, and bar (the Long Branch Saloon was actually known as the roughest place in town – several bullet holes still dot the ceiling!). Today, the eye-catching (and totally safe!) restaurant and bar cooks up upscale pub classics alongside craft cocktails, brews, and wine – including wine list sections dedicated to local white, rosé, and red wines.

Cork Fire Kitchen, 44501 Rainbow Canyon Road, Temecula, CA 92592, (951) 976-3404

Known for seasonal, farm-fresh cuisine using many locally-sourced ingredients, including from the chef’s very own garden, it should come as no surprise that Cork Fire has a prominent selection of great Temecula Valley wines to choose from on the wine list. Sip a bottle of Lorenzi Vineyards Chardonnay, or Wiens Fumé Blanc while you take in golf course views or cozy up by the roaring outdoor fireplace on the veranda for the perfect Temecula food and wine experience.

The Great Oak Steakhouse, 45000 Pechanga Parkway, Temecula, CA 92592, (888)-PECHANGA

Nothing works up an appetite quite like winning (or losing!) a few hands of blackjack – or a day of wine tasting – so head on over to this classic steakhouse at Pechanga Resort Casino for a totally indulgent meal of 100% Prime Black Angus beef and other decadent dishes (hello, lobster mac & cheese and au gratin potatoes!), paired with one of the many available Temecula Valley wine selections. You will find full sections of the restaurant’s massive wine list – which has been recognized as noteworthy by the editors of Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast magazines – dedicated to local wines, as well as individual Temecula Valley bottlings included among varietal selections.

E.A.T. Marketplace, 28410 Old Town Front Street, Temecula, CA 92590, (951) 694-3663

There are few restaurants more dedicated to sourcing clean, sustainable, locally-driven foods than E.A.T. Marketplace. Making it part of their mission to support Temecula Valley’s local economy, they naturally offer a selection of Temecula wines and craft beers to sip alongside their healthful and delicious menu items. The restaurant also regularly partners with local wineries for events and programs that help tell the wine and culinary story of Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country.

Got a favorite Temecula restaurant that also pours your favorite Temecula wines? Tell us about them! #DrinkTemecula

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