Facebook

Blog

Archive for the ‘Association News’ Category

And Here’s How It All Began…

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

Brookside Winery 1971

In the 1850s, Temecula became a stop on the stagecoach lines that were becoming the logistical route of choice in California. So popular was this route, a post office was set up in town which was a rare institution in California at the time. Settlement increased during the late 1860s as displaced Confederates moved West in the wake of the Civil War.

Because of the region’s isolation, Temecula retained many of its Native American, Spanish and Mexican customs and culture long after California was ceded to the United States. Throughout time, however, Native American lands were being purchased or seized and in 1875, the final blow was delivered when tribal nations signed a treaty relinquishing the remainder of their land in the Temecula Valley. A decade later, the Native Americans who remained were relocated to the Pechanga Reservation.

The railroad line boosted Temecula’s economy when the route was extended to the region in 1882. Unfortunately, the line was abandoned later that decade due to damage from incessant flooding. The major industries during these years were stone quarries, cattle and shipping. During the American Prohibition of the 20s and 30s, the Temecula Valley operated its share of bootlegging and speakeasies.

In 1904, Walter Vail arrived in Temecula and bought nearly 90,000 acres in the region. His family would do much to influence and shape the town during the first half of the 20th century. The Vail family’s biggest achievement was damming the Temecula River and creating Vail Lake in 1948.

In 1961 Mahlon Vail had been successfully operating the enormous Vail Cattle Ranch for nearly six decades. He was in his seventies and his health was failing. With no immediate heirs Vail began actively seeking a buyer for the ranch. One of those potential buyers contacted Richard Break, an experienced farm manager and broker from Fresno. The buyer wanted his professional opinion on the feasibility of growing citrus on the property. After reviewing temperature records for the Temecula area kept by the University of California at Riverside, Break became convinced that the climate and soil conditions in the valley were better suited for the growing of wine grapes.

In 1964 Vail successfully completed negotiations on the sale of the ranch to Kaiser Industries and Macco Realty, who together formed the Rancho California Development Corporation. Throughout 1965 the development company mapped out its plans for a “Master Planned Community.” The community would include commercial and industrial sites as well as residential and agricultural development. The campaign attracted the attention of a number of notables including then California Governor Ronald Reagan, who purchased a sizable portion of the Santa Rosa Plateau.

Another Hollywood couple who saw an opportunity to pursue a long-held dream of retiring to a sizable estate with a comfortable Mediterranean style adobe was Vincenzo and Audrey Cilurzo. In 1967 they purchased 40 acres of property down a long dirt road known as Long Valley Road (soon to become Rancho California Road). The Cilurzo’s established the first modern commercial vineyard in the Temecula Valley in 1968.

In 1974, the founding of Callaway Winery (by Ely Callaway, of golf fame) marked the beginning of large production winemaking in the Temecula Valley. Callaway, sold the winery in 1981 to Hiram Walker and Sons. John Poole opened Mount Palomar Winery in 1975, and in 1978 the Cilurzos opened another Temecula winery at a new site. Their original vineyard, Temecula’s oldest, is now owned by Maurice Carrie Winery. Today, there are over 40 wineries in the Temecula Valley.

Though Temecula became an incorporated city in 1989, the region officially became an American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 1984. Modern Temecula Wine Country is located east of the Rainbow Gap in Riverside County and the Temecula wine community has grown considerably since its humble beginnings.

Copy courtesy of The City of Temecula and Robert Renzoni Vineyards

Share

How Our “New Normal” is Actually a Better Normal

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

Cheers to 2021!

Well, the day we never thought would come finally did, and 2021 is officially in full swing. While the world is still a bit topsy turvy, and so much uncertainty remains, the start of a new year seems as good a time as any to look back on lessons learned, and contemplate what comes next.

Temecula Valley Wine Country went through a roller coaster of changes in 2020, as we implemented new policies to keep our customers and staff members safe, and experimented with creative ways to keep you engaged. While some changes we will be happy to say goodbye to when things get back to normal, some new practices we may hang on to just a little bit longer, if not forever, because, well… we kind of like them.

Change can often be uncomfortable, but it isn’t always a bad thing. So, in celebration of flexibility and fresh new starts, we would like to share the top five things that came out of 2020 that we will not be saying goodbye to in 2021.

  1. Reservations and Seated, Guided Tastings

When wineries were asked to implement social distancing protocols by limiting visitor numbers and requiring spacing among tables and tasting areas, reservation systems and more formal seated tastings made it easier to manage customer flow, while still ensuring a pleasant experience for guests.

What many of us realized in the process was that these guided tastings allowed us to get to know our customers better, and gave our guests more opportunities to ask questions, and learn more about our wineries and the wines in their glasses. While we look forward to welcoming guests back to our communal – and convivial! – tasting bars, we don’t anticipate our wineries giving up the more intimate, seated, guided tasting format any time soon. In fact, we look forward to new ways our wineries can use this type of experience to educate and entertain Temecula Valley visitors!

2. Taking Things Virtual

Why just get a bottle of wine when you can get a bottle of wine and meet the winemaker… virtually, from the comfort of your living room couch? 2020 was the year of the Zoom happy hours and virtual experiences and boy did we have fun with these! From virtual winery tours to wine club parties to educational tastings and more, Temecula Valley wineries took to the Internet to meet their fans and share their sips and stories.

Not only has this been a great way for us all to stay in touch with customers, but it has also been a way for us to make new friends across the country. We know wine lovers in other states and cities may not be able to visit us all the time, but Temecula Valley wineries can ship wine to just about any state, and the Internet knows no state lines! We can’t wait to see you on our computer screens over a glass or two of wine soon.

3. Trying New Wines

Nothing makes you crave new things quite like being stuck in your house, not being able to see your loved ones, and having all your favorite activities canceled for months on end. This boredom led many of us to take up new hobbies, learn different languages, and master new skills.

It led us to branch out of our sipping comfort zone to give some of those hard-to-pronounce grapes (hello, Falanghina!) a try. One of the most beautiful things about Temecula Valley is that we grow dozens of different varieties that all thrive here thanks to our Southern Californian Mediterranean climate. We know we won’t be losing that sense of adventure when it comes to wine discoveries in 2021; we hope you will keep up the curiosity as well!

4. Cool New Events

Temecula Valley is known for some pretty amazing events year-round thanks to gorgeous vineyards, stunning properties, and nearly 365 days of sunshine. When social distancing and outdoor tasting and dining requirements were put in place, Temecula Valley wineries had to get really creative when it came to event planning. The result? Fun new outings like drive-in movies, socially distanced yoga, and intimate (but at totally spaced-out tables) wine dinners among the vines.

Temecula Valley wineries have always thought outside the box when it comes to interesting grape blends, planting new varieties, and producing exciting wines. We are excited to see what’s next on the event horizon once things open back up. Hopefully some of these new, creative event concepts stick around, because there are few things better than sipping a bottle of your favorite Temecula Valley wine from the flatbed of your truck while watching “The Sandlot” on the big screen at sunset.

5. Gratitude

We’ve said it once, and we will say it again. We could not have gotten through 2020 without our loyal and supportive customers and visitors. We have also been reminded of the power of a simple thank you; of taking time to acknowledge those around us who keep us smiling – and afloat. Many Temecula Valley wineries have said thank you with special offers, discounts and promotions on wine, dining and shipping. No doubt we will continue to see these in the coming months. But we will never stop feeling grateful for YOU, and all that you as visitors and fans do to make our Wine Country so special.

Share

Harvest is Here! Discover the Unique Tools and Techniques Temecula Valley Winemakers Use to Produce Some of Your Favorite Wines

Tuesday, September 1st, 2020

Winemaking is equal parts agriculture, science, and art. This magical combination has allowed for infinite permutations and possibilities for different styles and flavors of wines, and captivated wine lovers all over the world.

While many may assume that wine is simply fermented grape juice, from soil to grape to cellar to glass, there are, in fact, many, many options available to the winemaker when it comes to crafting a unique product. Some are more common – like aging the wine in small or large oak barrels. Other techniques are less traditional, and may be linked to a winery’s signature style, a winemaker’s preference, or a desire to experiment with something new and different.

Since harvest in Temecula Valley has officially begun, we thought it would be fun to pull back the curtain on some of this magic that happens in the winery. So, we caught up with a few Temecula Valley winemakers who shared with us some of the offbeat techniques and traditions they use to create the region’s world class wines.

Nick & Cindy Palumbo
Owners, Palumbo Winery

Palumbo Vineyard & Winery

In addition to only farming their own grapes, which allows them to pick precisely and by slope and orientation based on ripeness, Palumbo does all fermentation in open bins as opposed to tanks. Owner and winemaker, Nick Palumbo, feels this offers a much more hands-on approach.

“Oxygen is our friend during fermentation and punching down, and stirring of the active fermentation helps in a lot of ways,” he says. “Healthy fermentations, the efficient dissipation of heat (without costly, energy-hogging cooling units), and the binding, or ‘locking in’ of various flavor and color components are just a few reasons we do this.”

Palumbo also works with whole cluster pressing of their Viognier (grapes are neither destemmed nor crushed), resulting in more delicate, less astringent white wine due to the limited contact with skins and stems; and, hand-sorted, whole berry fermentation on their reds. Here, grapes are destemmed but not crushed, allowing the berries to more or less crush themselves under their own weight and begin fermenting with the addition of yeast. Winemaking in this way slows the release of tannin and color in order to give more control over the vinification process.

Steve Andrews
Owner, Oak Mountain Winery

Oak Mountain Winery

In addition to having the first 104-foot subterranean wine cave in Temecula Valley, boasting more than 400 barrels of wine, a kitchen, banquet and tasting room, Oak Mountain is also home to a new, cutting edge piece of machinery, called “The CUBE.”

This vibrating grape destemmer ensures the gentlest possible process of removing grape berries from their stalks, and allows for raisined and overly mature grapes to remain on their stems so that they can easily be removed as waste. Only fruit free from defects is then recovered for fermentation, ensuring the resulting wine is clean and high quality.

Somerset Winery

Kurt Tiedt
President, Somerset Winery

Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Rome, Georgia…Temecula? What’s old is new again! Temecula newcomer Somerset Winery is making wine in Amphorae – giant vase-shaped clay vessels – a winemaking technique that originated thousands of years ago.

Winery president Kurt Tiedt, and winemaker David Raffaele, were intrigued by these vessels while attending the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in early 2020, and felt that they could be the key to taking their winery to the next level.

Since then, they have acquired three uniquely different amphorae – a classic Terracotta “Rotunda,” a “Terracotta Cigar,” and the “Opus 17” – a behemoth that stands over nine feet tall, has a six-inch thick interior, and weighs more than 8,000 pounds. All are imported from Italy.

These ancient vessels have seen a resurgence in recent years in many well-known wine regions because of their unique ability for winemakers to produce a wine that is somewhere between oak and stainless steel aged. While stainless steel tanks – being totally free from oxygen during fermentation – preserve the primary fruit characteristics of a wine, oak does the opposite. The porous nature of wood allows for plenty of oxygen and imparts other aromas, flavors, and additional tannin to the wine. Clay takes the best of both worlds – it, too, is porous and allows for the oxygen that is essential for giving a wine texture; but, it is neutral, so it also preserves the purity of aromas and flavors of the grapes, perfectly amplifying them in the case of quality fruit.

Somerset’s first Amphorae Syrah was just released, and is full-bodied, with mineral and earth tones and a creamy, smooth finish.

Jim Hart
Winemaker, Hart Winery

Hart Winery

Using Mission grapes from the Cazas and Hunter vineyards planted sometime between 1882 and 1905 on the Pechanga Reservation – by far the oldest wine grape plantings in Temecula Valley – Hart Winery produces a fortified Angelica wine made using the original winemaking techniques of the Franciscan missionaries. Angelica wine dates to the Mission period in California, and its name is thought to have been taken from the city of Los Angeles.

According to family history, the Hunter vineyards were planted from cuttings of original Mission Grapes taken from Mission San Luis Rey de Francia in Oceanside. Once extensive commercial vineyards, these two small remnant vineyards are still farmed by the descendants of the families who planted them well over 100 years ago.

DNA testing of the vines done by U.C. Davis confirms that these vines are original Mission rootstock – genetically identical to grape vines originally brought to California from Spain by Spanish Missionaries.

“[We at] Hart Winery are proud to work with the families who have preserved these heritage vineyards,” says Owner and Winemaker, Jim Hart. “We are honored to work with this exceedingly rare, ancient old vine fruit.”

Thought to be one of the first wines made in California, Angelica wines are fortified with brandy and aged for many years. Hart chooses to age their Angelica for over two years in old wine barrels, set outside in the warm Temecula sun, where the wine reacts with the heat and oxygen to develop deep caramel, hazelnut, root beer, and toffee notes. The barrels are never topped, and the heat plus the extended exposure to oxygen in un-topped barrels, ultimately changes the wine from its original light red to a brownish color as is typical for Angelica wines. It’s a rich, layered wine that makes for a decadent after-dinner drink with (or as!) dessert.

Akash Patel
Owner, Akash Winery

Akash Winery & Vineyards

Sometimes unique winemaking methods take the form of superstitions and traditions!

Akash Patel, Owner & Director of Akash Winery & Vineyards tells us they bury 11 pennies in the ground on the first day of harvest. According to the family, it’s an Indian good luck tradition that Mrs. Patel started for the winery. We’ll drink to that!

Happy Harvest!

Photo by Cindy Yamanaka, The Press Enterprise/SGNC

Share

Welcoming Guests Back ~ Safely & Responsibly

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020

Temecula Valley Wine Country

The safety of visitors, loyal customers and staff of Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country is our greatest priority. With the sudden global spread of the COVID-19 virus, we are trying our best to keep our guests and employees safe and appreciate your understanding of new policies and processes. We appreciate your patience while we navigate this “new normal.”

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors announced that the Governor’s office approved a variance that would allow “Dine-In-Restaurants” to re-open in our County. The Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) has defined that “dine-in restaurants” includes restaurants and brewpubs, as well as supplier licensees that permit tasting and/or private events (such as wineries, breweries, and craft distillers). While our wineries are still not allowed to offer any sort of wine tasting on property, they will be allowed to sell glasses of wine and bottles of wine, as long as their guests purchase a meal provided by the winery restaurant, a licensed caterer or a food truck. 

While this is much welcome news, many of our wineries will need some time to transition into this new way of doing business and to ensure that they are following the health and safety guidelines set forth by the State of California and Riverside County.  Many of the wineries have reduced their capacity and are requiring reservations. We will be keeping our website current with information that we receive from the wineries as to their operating hours at this time.  However, please contact the winery you wish to visit prior to visiting to ensure you’re aware of their policies and procedures. Please click HERE for a list and information on current winery operating hours and requirements prior to your visit.

Thank you, wine-loving friends, for your continued support of our Temecula Valley wineries and we look forward to welcoming you back!

Share

A Reflection on The Past Few Months And A Big Thank You to Our Consumers

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020

As Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country begins the slow and careful process of welcoming visitors back to wineries and restaurants safely after this long break, we are all taking a minute to reflect on what the past few months have taught us, and what the future holds for our wine region.

Here are the top three things we have learned:

  1. Temecula Valley is resilient.
    From its humble start as a one-stop-sign town to its current status as one of the world’s top wine destinations, Temecula Valley has come through a lot in its relatively short 52-year history. The region has battled drought years, a near extinction thanks to a nefarious vineyard pest in the 90s, tough competition from other wine regions, and now a major shut-down that has been particularly hard for a place that relies on visitation to stay afloat.

    And yet Temecula Valley always seems to emerge stronger than ever. Much like the Pierce’s Disease situation that nearly wiped us out forced us to invest in the research and tools to transform vine planting, grape growing and winemaking in the region, so has the current situation surrounding the pandemic encouraged us to regroup and find new and creative ways to reach our customers.

    The people of Temecula Valley are light on their feet when it comes to pivoting, and it is one of the biggest keys to our resilience. Many of you have probably taken part in the dozens of virtual wine tastings our wineries have been hosting, or taken advantage of the great packages and partner offers that they have pulled together for customers. Many of you have watched as our winemakers and tasting room staff have taken their cameras and laptops to the vineyards and barrel rooms, offering virtual tours and the chance to get to know them better. This nimbleness is what has allowed us to keep your wine country alive through these challenging times.

    We know we will be faced with other obstacles in our future. And we know we will band together to come through them as we always do – stronger than ever.

  2. Our community is all heart.
    Almost without exception, the moment the stay at home orders were announced, our wineries started to not only figure out ways to support their employees in the face of layoffs and furloughs, but they found ways to give back to the community as well.

    South Coast Winery Resort & Spa and Carter Estate Winery and Resort contributed 50% of online wine sales to provide food and other provisions to furloughed staff members. Fazeli Cellars took 50% of the proceeds from bottles of their 2014 Mehregan and 2018 Norooz sold to go directly back to employees to help with expenses. Leoness Cellars and others created similar programs.

    Mount Palomar Winery not only did a social media promotion for healthcare workers, but they also donated bulk wine to several distilleries to create hand sanitizers.

    Robert Renzoni Vineyards, who had to furlough 40 of their 47 employees as a result of the shelter in place orders, began selling “Employee Support Packs,” with 50% of the proceeds going back to their employees. The Renzoni family also donated 50 generously sized hams for employees to pick up, along with a bottle of wine.

    Doffo Winery organized weekly grocery boxes for their team, while Palumbo Winery donated several cases to the Cocina Urbana group in San Diego and to Goat and Vine in Temecula to give to chefs and wait staff who had been furloughed.

    Wilson Creek Winery donated 50,000 wine tasting tickets (to the tune of $1.25 million) to healthcare workers in Riverside and San Diego for redemption once they are back open.  They also donated 1,000 bottles to Temecula Valley Hospital.

    Peltzer Family Cellars donated 300 bottles to the Temecula Valley hospital healthcare workers.

    This is just a handful of ways our community has stepped up and given back during the COVID-19 pandemic. No matter how tough things get, we always look out for each other, and other communities in need.

  3. Our friends and fans are loyal… and the only reason we are all still here today.
    These past few months have been tough on everyone. But your support – whether it was maintaining your wine club membership, joining us for virtual tastings, ordering wines online or over the phone, engaging with us on social media, or simply reaching out to say hi – has gotten us through this.

We cannot thank you enough for your ongoing loyalty to our wineries and the Temecula Valley region in general, and we cannot wait to see your smiling faces back in our tasting rooms and restaurants hopefully very soon.

Share

Temecula Valley Wine Country Lands in USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice as Best Wine Region

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019

Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country has been named by USA Today as a 10Best Readers’ Choice for “Best Wine Region.” Out of 20 nominees across the United States, Temecula Valley Wine Country ranked number three in the country by an expert panel and the public.

“This recognition is a testament to the hard work and passion of our winegrowers and winemakers. Our wine region is beginning to get the recognition it deserves for its award wining wines, dining, and experiences,” says Kimberly Adams, President and CEO, Visit Temecula Valley.

“From our talented winemakers to chefs to tasting room staff and everyone in between, Temecula Valley is filled with passionate people who work tirelessly to make the region so special,” said Krista Chaich, Executive Director of the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association. “We are delighted to be counted among so many other great wine regions in this 10Best list, and that visitors everywhere have fallen in love with our community and our world class wines, just as we have.”

Temecula Valley Wine Country is located in the center of Southern California, just 60 minutes from San Diego, Orange Country, and Palm Springs, and 90 minutes south of Los Angeles. There are now nearly 50 wineries in the significant and diverse Temecula Valley AVA, a major AVA in Southern California. The wine region continues to gain recognition for its award-winning, premium varietal and proprietary blended wines.

More than three million travelers visit Temecula Valley to enjoy the region’s welcoming wineries, learning experiences, concerts and signature events, outdoor activities, and exceptional dining. Less-busy weekdays provide potential opportunities to converse with talented winemakers and friendly winery owners. Hotels, resorts, bed and breakfast inns are available among the vineyards, in and near Old Town Temecula, within the canyon, and along hotel row in Uptown.

For more information about Temecula Valley Southern California or to start planning your trip, go to VisitTemeculaValley.com.

Share

Why Temecula Valley’s Climate is Perfect for Wine Grapes… And Vacationers!

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

“It’s too hot to grow wine grapes in Southern California.”

We hear this a lot out in Temecula Valley. Every time we do, we smile to ourselves as it’s an open invitation to explain why this wine region is not only perfect for vacationers, but for producing world-class wines as well.

Picture your ideal vacation. Does the image of waking up to a beautiful sunrise that warms the air just enough that you can enjoy coffee out on your balcony or get in a quick morning run in slightly crisp air with no sticky humidity sound about right?

Does sitting on a patio enjoying a Southern California lunch in 72-degree weather, sun shining, not a cloud in the sky in mid-November while your friends back home are kicking muddy slush from an early snowfall off their boots before getting into their cars on a grey and dreary day sound appealing?

Imagine yourself in a luxurious king-sized bed at your hotel after a fun and sun-filled day of wine tasting, hiking or shopping, all windows open to allow in the cool night breezes to lull you to sleep.

This is vacationing in Temecula Valley, all year round. It also describes key aspects that make this region suitable for growing wine grapes.

A Mediterranean Climate is generally classified as having a long growing season (early Spring to late Fall) of moderate to warm temperatures, moderate winters and relatively low rainfall. Since regions of Mediterranean climate are influenced by cold ocean currents during the Summer months, the weather during this time is dry, stable and pleasant with strong diurnal shifts. This means that, while the days are warm and sunny, the nights cool down quickly. These regions receive most of their precipitation for the year during the Winter months.

Major wine producing regions with Mediterranean climates include Tuscany and parts of Southern Italy, the Southern Rhone Valley, Provence, most of Greece, many parts of Spain, Southern Oregon, Baja California, the Napa Valley and, of course, Temecula Valley. These are many of the regions we think of when we think of premium wines and dream travel experiences.

What makes Temecula Valley at home among these well-known wine regions is that it boasts long, sunny days that allow wine grapes to ripen and develop the sugars that will ultimately turn the grapes into wine. However, the region is home to significant maritime influence as well. Just 22-miles from the Pacific Ocean, Temecula Valley is bordered by coastal mountain ranges and inland valleys. As the sun warms the inland valleys east of Temecula, the warm air rises, forming a low-pressure area which pulls the cooler, much heavier air from the Pacific Ocean in through two breaks in the mountains — The Rainbow Gap and the Santa Margarita Gap. This cool air creates the pattern of warm sunny days, breezy afternoons and cool nights, ideal conditions for the wine grapes to develop complex flavors and aromas, while retaining pleasant balance and freshness from desirable acidity levels.

Think about it: Virtually year-round sunshine and warm or moderate temperatures, cool nights, relatively little rainfall, not to mention high quality wines, unique wine-tasting experiences, and the relaxed, welcoming vibe that is synonymous with Southern California. Whether you’re a wine enthusiast or just looking for a dream vacation, Temecula Valley should be added to your list of top wine destinations to visit.

Share

So, You Want to Be A Winemaker?

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

You sit down to dinner and uncork a beautiful bottle of 2014 Syrah. As you swirl and sip, you start to imagine life as a winemaker. The romance of waking up on a cool September morning, opening your blinds and looking out onto your perfectly manicured vineyards. The satisfaction of tending to your vines, watching them flourish, and ultimately fermenting and bottling the grapes for your family dinner table.

Think you’ve got what it takes?

We sat down with some of Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country’s local rockstars – our winemakers – to ask them what really goes into producing the delicious wines that we simply get to open and enjoy. From grueling hours to the infamous “black hands” to strange harvest rituals, they gave us the good, the bad and the ugly on what it takes to be a winemaker during harvest.

Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association: What does a typical day during harvest look like?

Greg Pennyroyal, Vineyard Manager, Wilson Creek Winery: It is Monday at 11: 30 PM. My crew shows up in 30 minutes. We will harvest Viognier until dawn because that is what is best for wine quality. Quality of life can wait until next year when this wine will be on my dinner table and hopefully yours. Some may say this is exceptional effort but for those of us who are possessed by the muse of Vitis Vinifera, it is the best way – no, the only way – to bring in the fruit that I have nurtured since last fall. People ask, “Why are you here in the middle of the night?” To which I quote Thoreau, “Why are you not here?”

Dakota Denton, Winemaker, Gershon Bachus Vintners: I wake up, put my boots on, and walk the vineyards in the cool of the morning. Then, it’s off to the cellar or crush pad for pump-overs and to crush more grapes. By the time this is done it is time to pull samples for the lab, a second set of pump overs and a beer to end the day. Then repeat!

Olivia Bue, Winemaker, Robert Renzoni Vineyards: First and foremost, attire: Jeans (even if it’s 100° F out), old t-shirt (stained with the previous vintage’s wine), steel toe boots (always make sure to shake out dirt and grape skins), big harvest hat…Oh, and of course our purple cracked hands.

Then the day consists of early morning vineyard visits to collect grape samples for analysis; hydrometer 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 (making sure to not get too close, lest we get hit with a CO2 bomb); and, most importantly, tasting each lot daily.

Once reds come in the real harvest bootcamp begins! This means pump-overs 3 times daily with at least 3 hours off in between. This involves sanitizing all hoses and pumps before and after each lot, making any necessary adjustments to the wine, and removing fallout seeds to minimize astringency. As the reds approach the end of alcoholic fermentation, it’s time to drain the tank of all its wine, leaving behind skins to get pressed out. To remove skins from the tank, we jump inside to shovel them out into the bins below the tank door. This is always a good workout!

TVWA: What is the hardest part of harvest?

DD: Waking up early.

OB: When my alarm goes off at 3 AM.

Gus Vizgirda, Winemaker, Wilson Creek Winery: The harvest has its many expected effects, such as exhaustion. But one that is seldom talked about is what I like to call the “Black Hand.” This happens when calloused hands come in contact with red grape juice. It is the natural condition of a winemaker during harvest. As much as “Black Hand“ is an honorable winemaking badge, it has disadvantages. My wife thinks it’s disgusting and makes me look dirty; and my grandchildren think that I have some sort of disease, avoiding my hugs. So, if you see me around during this time of the year with my hands in my pockets, understand this: I have “Black Hand.” I’m polite not to show it in public, but – believe me – in the privacy of my home late at night I look at my hands in wonderment and passionate pride, remembering the good times I had this Harvest… and longing for grandchildren’s hugs.

TVWA: What is your favorite part of harvest?

GV: Getting to the winery at 3 AM. I love to work in the morning and see the sunrise as we are pressing the grapes. I enjoy completing most of the work before the heat of the day.

OB: Processing grapes as the sun rises. And, when the last lot is pressed out; not because harvest is over but because I can finally look back and feel proud of all the blood, sweat and tears put into the vintage.

DD: The nonstop craziness from start to finish.

Joseph Wiens, Winemaker, Wiens Family Cellars: The change of pace is welcoming. We are busy bottling non-stop before crush to free up our tank space, so we look forward to getting back into the harvest season. This is also our first look at the new vintage. We’re excited to see the fruit that we’ve been watching mature on the vines finally come in for processing into wine.

TVWA: Do you have any harvest rituals – before, during or after?

DD: Every harvest I stop shaving (not saying I ever started).

OB: Happy hour at 9am.

JW: We have a rule that after our first 8 hours of work for the day, we can start cracking brews to get us through the remainder of the day.

Javier Flores, Winemaker, South Coast Winery & Carter Estate Winery: The Sunday before Harvest, I pray for a good crop and that no one gets hurt. A safe harvest is a good harvest. Then the very first day of Harvest we buy breakfast burritos for all the winemaking team members to celebrate the beginning. The very last day of Harvest we hang a plastic Skeleton with dates marking the start and finish of the harvest. Then the following Friday we have a super lunch at our winery, prepared by winemakers.

GV: I play my bugle at passing hot air balloons and play “Reveille” at sunrise for [Wilson Creek owners] Rosie and Gerry. The balloon passengers are always surprised.

TVWA: What is the craziest/scariest/funniest thing that has happened to you during harvest?

DD: Not knowing that a keg that it was still fermenting, I started to open it. After the second turn of the clamp, there was a loud bang (as if a shotgun had gone off right in front of me), and wine shot up to the ceiling, covering me from head to toe.

JW: A couple of years ago, we got a new press. We overloaded it with Zinfandel that had fallen apart (the skins didn’t hold up, and the whole lot looked more like a grape smoothie than wine). The Zin smoothie clogged up the drain holes in the press, and once the press started pressurizing, the wine had nowhere to go. The seals on the press broke open, and about 4 tons of purple slop poured out onto the crush pad. We frantically started trying to shovel it up, and soon decided it was a lost cause. We were up to our ankles with slop, and one of our workers made a snide remark. I flung a shovel full of slop at them, which devolved into a full-fledged Zin slop fight. It was a huge mess, and a bummer to lose some wine, but we laughed about it in the end, and learned the limitations of our new press!

TVWA: What is the timeline of a bottle of wine, from planting to uncorking it for dinner?

JW: It really depends on the wine. We will actually start bottling our 2018 white wines in early October. These early bottlings (like our dry rosés, Albariño and Pinot Grigio) have light, volatile aromatics that tend to flash off if we wait too long to bottle, so we try to capture that freshness as early as possible. We could be enjoying a nice, crisp rosé of Pinot Noir for dinner while we are still processing reds! Our red wines take anywhere from 1 to 4 years to make it onto our lists, as their aromas and flavors develop slowly with barrel ageing. Typically with newly planted vines, it is the “third leaf,” or third growing season, before we harvest any fruit. So, planting-to-uncorking could be as short as 4 years for our whites, to more than 40 for some of our old vine reds.

DD: Anywhere from 5 to 10 years depending on what kind of wine, and how long you are aging the wine in barrels and bottles.

Special thanks to the Temecula Valley winemakers who shared their harvest stories with us for this article.

Next time you uncork, take a moment to reflect on just what went into making that magical juice in your bottle, and give a toast to your local winemakers.

Happy harvest to winemakers all over the world, and happy California Wine Month to all.

Photo courtesy of Burlile Photography

Share

50th Anniversary Commemorative Wine ~ Now Available!

Friday, June 29th, 2018

The Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association (TVWA) today announced the launch of their 50th Anniversary commemorative wine, a blend of Temecula Valley Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre produced and bottled in Temecula Valley by Temecula Valley winemakers.

The collaborative effort was led by TVWA’s enology committee, made up of Jim Hart of Hart Winery, Phil Baily of Baily Winery and Jon McPherson of South Coast Winery and Carter Estate Winery. The team presented numerous possibilities for consideration, including a Bordeaux blend, a “Super Tuscan”-style blend and an offbeat concoction made up of Portuguese and other classic international grapes, before landing on the final product, a blend of 50% Syrah, 26% Grenache and 24% Mourvèdre.

“Temecula Valley’s Mediterranean climate makes it well-suited to grow a lot of different grape varieties, which made this a particularly interesting exercise,” said Jon McPherson, Master Winemaker at South Coast Winery and Carter Estate. “Making this wine allowed us to dig deeper on who we are as a region. What we concluded is that this diversity of offerings is what makes us unique. The 50th Anniversary wine is only one example of a blend of grapes that truly shine in Temecula Valley. The possibilities were actually endless.”

Located just 22 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, Temecula Valley is bordered by valleys and coastal mountains ranging from 2,000 to 11,000 feet elevation. This creates a low-pressure area characterized by warm days, afternoon breezes and cool nights. Marine air is pulled into the Valley through two low-elevation points in the mountains – the Rainbow Gap and the Temecula Gorge — which allows wine grapes to develop full ripeness while maintaining desirable acidity levels.

“This wine is the perfect representation of our 50th Anniversary theme – the People, Passion and Perseverance of Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country,” said Krista Chaich, TVWA Executive Director. “Our talented winemakers came together to lend their expertise and deep commitment to this Valley in order to craft a wine that is not just delicious now, but that will stand the test of time…as our region has done over the past 50 years and will continue to do for the next 50. We cannot wait to share this wine with consumers.”

Temecula Valley grows over two dozen grape varieties. In addition to the Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre that make up the 50th Anniversary wine, those that especially thrive include common Italian varieties like Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Vermentino and Arneis; classic Bordelaise grapes like Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec; other Rhône Varieties like Viognier and Grenache Blanc; Spanish grapes like Tempranillo; and offbeat varieties like the Portuguese Touriga Nacional and Southern Italian Falanghina.

The 50th Anniversary wine will be available for purchase at special events and through Hart Winery. The wine will retail for $50 per 750 ml bottle. Special etched magnums will also be available for purchase.  There are limited quantities available!

Share

Doffo Winery Takes Top Prize!

Friday, December 1st, 2017

Visit Temecula Valley (VTV), in coordination with Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association (TVWA), recently announced the winners of the second annual People’s Choice Blind Tasting. The event took place on Sunday, November 12, 2017, at Leoness Cellars, and featured a walk-around blind tasting, a wine seminar led by Master of Wine Roger Bohmrich and a 6-course awards dinner paired with last year’s winning wines.

Doffo Winery’s 2015 Zinfandel took first place in the competition, after taking second place to Wilson Creek’s Petite Sirah at last year’s inaugural event. The 2017 second place winner was Lorimar Winery’s 2014 Syrah, and third place was taken by Thornton Winery’s 2014 Estate Syrah.

“We are beyond thrilled with receiving 1st Place in the People’s Choice competition,” said Damian Doffo, CEO and Winemaker for Doffo Winery. “We work very hard in the vineyard to produce high quality fruit and make exceptional wine. We look forward to sharing our wine with the public in February.”

Over 200 guests tasted 29 wines (6 whites and 23 reds) without knowing any of the wines’ identities, and rated them on a scale of 1-5 during a walk-around wine tasting. The top 12-scoring wines from this portion of the event went on to be poured during a wine seminar led by Master of Wine Roger Bohmrich, where they were again tasted blind and rated on a scale of 1-5, including by Roger himself. Final scores were tallied to determine the top 3 “People’s Choice” wines. Wines could be any variety or a blend, at any price point, as long as they were from the Temecula Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA). Entries ranged from just $24 per bottle to well over $100, and represented a number of grape varieties, from Falanghina to Syrah to Cabernet Franc.

In addition to the walk-around tasting and seminar, the event featured a six-course dinner created by Chef Daragh Matheson from Leoness Cellars, paired with last year’s People’s Choice winners. A VIP reception offered hand-selected pours presented by local winemakers and winery owners. San Diego singer-songwriter Christian Taylor performed throughout the tasting. The evening’s dinner program was emceed by Lindsay Pomeroy, Master of Wine Candidate and owner of the “Wine Smarties” school in San Diego, and a brief keynote was delivered by Bohmrich. Local musician Brian Stodart performed throughout the dinner program.

Sponsors included Gosch Ford, 34° Crisps, Palpula Dips & Sauces, Temecula Lavender Co., Old Town Spice & Tea Merchants, Aall In Limo & Party Bus, Grapeline Wine Tours and American AgCredit. Carter Estate Winery & Resort was the official hotel partner for the event. Fishing lures and equipment reviews – Useful articles that explore the strengths and weaknesses of rods, fishing lures, and fishing gear. There is a program on Fishreeler, within which any participant can get interesting tackles and make their own comments on them. We bring to your attention tackle reviews, including reviews of fishing products and fishing equipment, which you can purchase from the fishreeler.com And also – articles and essays about fishing, fishermen, and fish, from which you will learn about the peculiarities of fishing in different countries and in different seasons.

The top twelve scoring wines in alphabetical order were as follows:

Avensole Winery 2014 Malbec, $32.95
Baily Vineyard & Winery 2014 Malbec, $25.00
Doffo Winery 2015 Zinfandel, $72.00
Falkner Winery 2014 Rock Creek Syrah, $49.95
Fazeli Cellars 2014 Shiraz, $48.00
Hart Winery 2014 Volcanic Ridge Vineyard Syrah, $60.00
Leoness Cellars 2014 CS Cabernet Franc-Merlot, $38.00
Lorimar Winery 2014 Syrah, $48.00
Miramonte Winery 2014 Estate Syrah, $65.00
South Coast Winery 2016 Viognier, $25.00
Thornton Winery 2014 Estate Syrah, $49.00
Wiens Family Cellars 2015 Sangiovese, $44.00

Most wines can be purchased directly online through each winery’s website. The entire list of wines entered into the competition can be accessed HERE.

Share
  • Categories

  • Archives

View Our Winery Map