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Meet the Husband-and-Wife Teams of Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country

Friday, January 31st, 2020

All’s Fair in Love and… Wine?

With gorgeous vistas, world class wines, happening tasting rooms, friendly and knowledgeable people, amazing culinary options, and year-round perfect weather, there are few better places to spend Valentine’s Day – or any day, really – than Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country. But, what if you work in Wine Country? And, what if you work in Wine Country with your significant other?

Thinking about taking the next step with your honey and opening a winery? After catching up with some of Temecula Valley’s iconic winery couples, we learned that it is indeed possible to keep the romance alive, even when it means spending all day together on the job. It just involves lots of wine, functional plumbing, and occasionally leaving work at work, which, according to these dynamic duos, is harder that it sounds.

Les & Dorian Linkogle

LES AND DORIAN LINKOGLE, BRIAR ROSE WINERY

Les is the winemaker and the visionary force behind the winery. Dorian focuses on the administrative and hospitality-driven side of the business. They have been together for over 45 years, 20 of which have been spent operating the winery together.

TVWA: How did you two meet?

Les: Dorian and I were high school sweethearts.

TVWA: Awwwww. What is the best part about working together?

Dorian: Sharing our passion for this wonderful wine culture with one another.

TVWA: What is the worst part?

Les: You never stop working. You don’t take the necessary time off away from the winery, and the business dominates almost all of your conversations.

TVWA: Do any moments stand out for you during your time working together?

Dorian:  One harvest, under the light of the full harvest moon, Les set up a table in the middle of the vineyards. The table was complete with tablecloth, candle, wine and two glasses. Much to my surprise he wanted me to experience the magic of the energy of the vineyards just prior to harvest. As I sat there with him, I did experience the energy and sense of awe as I viewed the beautiful fruit hanging from the vines in the shadow of the moonlight, and I truly did feel the energy of the vines just as he had described.  It was an enchanted evening; one I will never forget.

Deane & Christine Foote

DEANE AND CHRISTINE FOOTE, FOOT PATH WINERY

Deane is the winemaker and works in the tasting room. According to Deane, Christine is “pretty much everything else. CFO, CEO… she’s the boss.”

TVWA: How did you two meet?

Deane: We met 20+ years ago while working at Teledyne in the City of Industry.

TVWA: What is the best part about working together?

Deane: Seeing each other all the time and enjoying it.

TVWA: Do you ever not enjoy it?

Deane: When we have occasional differences in opinion on what should be done next. But she keeps me in line.

TVWA: Do any moments stand out for you during your time working together?

Deane: Our first date. We have been together ever since.

Nick & Cindy Palumbo

NICK AND CINDY PALUMBO, PALUMBO FAMILY VINEYARDS & WINERY

Nick is the winemaker and Cindy, like Christine, is “everything else.” This seems to be a theme among winery couples!

TVWA: How did you two meet?

Nick: We met at Texas Lil’s in 2000, back when Old Town was a one-horse town. Cindy had chicken pox and I asked her if she wanted to go to “Wally World.” Truth. We got married in 2003.

TVWA: What is the best part about working together?

Nick: The best part is we live and raise our kids onsite, in a healthy and beautiful environment. We live a healthy lifestyle, doing what we believe in and showing our kids that working hard and staying true to what you believe in is rewarding in many ways.

TVWA: What is the worst part?

Nick: The worst part is we never seem to “get away.” That said, we live and work where other people dream of “getting away” to!

TVWA: Do any moments stand out for you during your time working together?

Nick: It’s tough to pinpoint just one anecdote. Raising family, multiple farm animals and crazy customers over the years has afforded us years’ worth of stories. However, one that stands out is when a long-time customer requested a taste of our Sangiovese on his death bed. Seriously. It brought tears to our eyes.     

Ray & Loretta Falkner

RAY AND LORETTA FALKNER, FALKNER WINERY

Ray is the Chairman and CFO, in charge of all winery operations, including production and sales. He is also in charge of the on-site restaurant, Pinnacle. Loretta is the President and CEO, in charge of all weddings, special events and the gift shop. They have been together for 22 years, 19 of which have been at the winery.

TVWA: How did you two meet?

Ray & Loretta: We met through friends in Dallas, TX, where we were living prior to moving to California

in 2000. While we each came from different work backgrounds (technology and fashion retail), we merged talents to build our winery operation. We had previously worked together at a start-up internet company in Dallas named Shabang.  

TVWA: What is the best part about working together?

R&L: The best part is sharing in the successes when they occur. It also makes it easier to “bring work home” when there are work issues that are best discussed in great length in order to arrive at the best possible solution.

TVWA: What is the hardest part?

R&L: The most difficult part is when there are wide differences of opinion and neither of us wants to give in. We can usually get over the stubborn positions to reach a compromise though. Sometimes it is also difficult to get away from work when you see each other most hours of the day.

TVWA: Do any moments stand out for you during your time working together?

R&L: One of them was the creation of our “Luscious Lips” wine and label.  Loretta felt that the winery should produce a visually catchy label that customers would be attracted to and purchase.  She decided two lips on the label would be the selling point.  Numerous employees and friends were asked to provide “lip imprints” so we could decide what to use.  All employees and friends were involved in the selection process. Ray wanted the lips embossed on the label so you could feel the lips as well as see them.  The next step was the wine itself – a Syrah with about 3% residual sugar. It was a true collaborative effort, and Luscious Lips has been an extremely successful wine ever since. 

Akash & Elena Patel

AKASH & ELENA PATEL, AKASH WINERY

Akash is the owner and director of the winery, and Elena is the wine club manager. They have been together for 9 years.

TVWA: How did you two meet?

Akash & Elena: We met at school in 2004.

TVWA: What is the best part about working together?

A&E: Working together to create a place that people love coming to visit. A place, that if it wasn’t ours, we would visit. Plus, watching our joint visions come to life right in front of our eyes.

TVWA: What is the worst part?

A&E: There is no worse part! (Cough cough)… Not being able to shut off work after hours, and talk about things other than the winery.

TVWA: Do any moments stand out for you during your time working together?

A&E: We’ve only been at it for 12 months, so we are still in our honeymoon phase of love and peace. Right now it is all memorable.

Carrie & Charlie Peltzer
Photo Courtesy of @paigecreative / @temeculavalleyvibe

CARRIE & CHARLIE PELTZER, OWNERS, PELTZER FARM & WINERY

Charlie is a professional investor in “rusty gold” and antiquities. Carrie is a designer. Together, she dreams it and he builds it! Much of what you see around Peltzer Farm & Winery are products from this duo. They have been together for 24 years.

TVWA: How did you two meet?

Carrie: My aunt and uncle lived on the same street in Orange as Charlie and introduced us. At the time, we both had significant others… BUT, I later found out Charlie had two farm pups named Bonnie and Blue and I quickly fell in love with all of them. He’d take them to work with him every day. It was adorable. The rest is history and it’s been bliss ever since!

TVWA: What is the best part about working together?

Carrie: My favorite part about working with Charlie is coming up with an idea, spinning it around my head, and putting it on paper. Charlie takes once glance and he’s off building it. He loves projects (most of the time) and I love ideas – it just works.

TVWA: What is the worst part?

Carrie: The fact that you can’t just shut it off… without three glasses of wine, that is.

TVWA: Do any moments stand out for you during your time working together?

Carrie: One of my favorite stories is from while we were building the Crush House. Starbucks was getting

rid of some of their furniture for a remodel. Charlie, being Charlie, picked up a couple of leather chairs they threw out and brought them home. We ended up putting the two chairs in the middle of the Crush House. Every day at 4 or 5 pm when we were done with the day, we would sit in those chairs, relax, talk about what was next in the build, dream about the future of the place, and crack a cold one. They’re still in Charlie’s workshop to this day!

Steve & Valerie Andrews

Valerie & Steve Andrews, Oak Mountain Winery

Steve is the President and Valerie is the Vice President of this dog-loving winery. They have been together for 22 years.

TVWA: How did you two meet?

Valerie:  We met online on a singles site

TVWA: What is the best part about working together?

Valerie: We have the same work ethics. We create our next project together, from planting our vineyards over 20 years ago, to building our 10,000 square-foot wine cave. Steve has the technical ideas and expertise while I am the creative, artistic side.

TVWA: What is the worst part?

Valerie: There is no worst part.

TVWA: Do any moments stand out for you during your time working together?

Valerie: In the very beginning we bottled our small amount of wine with a gravity feed, 4-spout bottler. Steve had the tote of wine raised on a forklift so, by gravity, the wine would flow to the bottler that we had set on the ground. I was in charge of putting the bottles under the spouts and then pulling them off when full for Steve to cork. Well, sometimes the bottler would lose its prime, so I had a syringe to suck the wine back to prime. It didn’t work very well, so I just would suck on the end of the spout to get the wine going again. Eight hours later there was a very happy, very drunk Val. Steve still laughs about that one.

Gerry & Rosie Wilson

GERRY AND ROSIE WILSON, WILSON CREEK WINERY

It is impossible to talk about Temecula Valley Wine Country Couples without thinking about Gerry and Rosie Wilson of Wilson Creek Winery. These two lovebirds have been together for a whopping 65 years! Read the story of how they met here.

TVWA: What is the best part about working together?

Rosie: Being together and sharing this journey. Knowing what each other is doing each day.

TVWA: What is the worst part?

Rosie: There isn’t one.

TVWA: Do any moments stand out for you during your time working together?

Rosie: When we were building the winery, someone told us that the Balloon and Wine Festival was to be at Lake Skinner the next day. We felt that we should have something to show people driving by our property that we were building a winery, so we constructed a sign that said “Wilson Creek Winery” and added a white oval at the top that said “Open Soon.” We slogged through the mud and rain and installed it. Well, with all the problems that occurred along the way, we opened nearly TWO years later. I guess we gave the word “soon” a new meaning!   

Bill & Jenifer Wilson

BILL & JENIFER WILSON, WILSON CREEK WINERY

It looks like Gerry and Rosie started something much bigger than their relationship when they got together, because this other iconic Wilson Creek Couple has been together for 32 years!

TVWA: How did you two meet?

Bill: I was going to a bar early because a person I had never met and haven’t seen since forgot his ID!

Jenifer was there following a Heart Association fundraiser, hoping to find a handsome doctor, but met me instead.

TVWA: What is the best part about working together?

Bill: We see each other every day!

TVWA: What is the worst part?

Bill: We see each other every day!

TVWA: Do any moments stand out for you during your time working together?

Bill: It was when we were building the winery, living in a double wide with no electricity & no running water, with a 4 year old and a 2 year old. One day, my wife hands me a training potty dispenser for me to empty, and proclaims, “It’s not your daughter’s.” That was extremely motivating to hurry up and get the construction done! 

Phil & Carol Baily

PHIL & CAROL BAILY, BAILY WINERY

Another famous Temecula Valley couple, Phil and Carol Baily were among the first to settle in Temecula Valley and build the region to what it is today.

TVWA: How did you two meet?

Phil: We were introduced to each other by our sisters in 1967 in Whittier, California where we both were raised. Our sisters felt that we were a perfect match; they were right, because five months later we were married, and this past November, we celebrated our 52nd wedding anniversary.

TVWA: What is the best part about working together?

Phil: Every part of our business is the result of both of us working hard and working together.  Every major decision was made by the two of us hashing things out, not being afraid to take the steps to begin, and adjusting as things evolved and the environment changed. And we’re not done yet.

Special thanks to all the winery folks who contributed to this piece. For more about Temecula Valley Wine Country and all the passionate people who make it so special, click HERE.

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Get to Know Merlot!

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Considered one of the most food-friendly and approachable wines on the planet, Merlot surged to popularity in the United States in the 1990s. Now wine-lovers can find great Merlot and delicious Merlot blends from all over the world – from South America to France to Italy to right here in Temecula Valley, California.

Here are five fun facts about Merlot!

Sourced from Snooth/Wikipedia

1) Did you know the word “merlot” translates to “young blackbird” in French? The name was thought to have been given either because of the grape’s beautiful blue-black color, or blackbird’s fondness for grapes.

2) Merlot’s flavor profile fluctuates within the sweetness spectrum. Cooler climates bring out hints of berries, plum, and even tobacco. Merlot grown in hotter climates might mimic flavors found in fruitcake or chocolate.

3) A bit about Merlot blends: When Merlot first arrived in California, it mostly sold as single varietal bottlings (100% Merlot) until winemakers began blending it with other red grapes in the French Bordeaux tradition. Now, California’s Meritage wines are a signature of the state and always include Merlot as one of the essential blending grapes.

4) Merlot is so popular because of the grape’s ability to please all palates. Wines can range from very fruity simple wines to more serious, barrel-aged bottles.

5) Merlot has a high sugar content and low acidity, which makes it a very food-friendly wine, able to be paired with a variety of dishes. For example, Cabernet-like Merlots pair well with grilled meats. Softer, fruitier Merlots go well with salmon, mushroom-based dishes and greens. Light-bodied Merlots pair well with shellfish like prawns or scallops, especially if wrapped in bacon or prosciutto.

Looking for a great bottle of Temecula Valley Merlot?  Check these out:

Baily Winery 2012 Merlot

Bel Vino Winery 2013 Merlot

Falkner Winery 2013 Merlot

Leoness Cellars 2014 Vineyard Selection Merlot

Oak Mountain Winery 2013 Merlot

 

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May’s Official Wine Days

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

As if we needed a day to drink wine, May 25th is the unofficial, official National Wine Day (not to be confused with National Drink Wine Day held in February each year).  And, if that’s not enough, we also celebrate International Sauvignon Blanc Day, World Moscato Day and National Chardonnay Day in May!

Wondering how did these days come to be? Actually, official wine days are pretty unofficial. They are usually a movement started by a variety of individuals or organizations with a passion for juice. Based on our research, National Wine Day started in 2009 and, since then, a variety of wine appreciation days have popped up in the calendar. So, now you know how easy it is to make an official wine day!

First up on the calendar, #SauvBlancDay is on May 5th. Originating in the Bordeaux region of France, the grape is also widely planted throughout New Zealand – and grows with ease here in the Temecula Valley. An acidic wine that displays a citrus-y, grapefruit-like quality, it’s a pleasing choice for a warm summer day. A very versatile vino, Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with shell fish, grilled vegetables (even asparagus!) and cheeses. It’s the perfect picnic wine!

Some Temecula Valley stand-outs are from Hart Winery, Danza del Sol Winery and Peltzer Winery.

May 9th is #MoscatoDay.  The day was introduced here in the US by Gallo Family Vineyards back in 2012 to celebrate the rising popularity and sky-rocketing sales of the varietal. If you know nothing about Moscato (or Muscat/Muscat Canelli), it originated in the Piedmont region of Italy where it’s a favorite due to its sweetness, lightness and affordability – and is popular as a sparkling wine. You’ll find Moscato table wines in white, red or rosé styles, and they make an especially delicious dessert wine. With it’s bouquet of peach, honey and citrus, a delicate sweetness and fresh acidity, it’s perfect served with a plate of fresh cheeses.

Try the Muscat Canelli from Callaway WineryCarter Estate or Oak Mountain Winery.

And then there’s the day to pay homage to the old standby, Chardonnay. #ChardonnayDay is sharing it’s special day with National Wine Day this year on May 25th.  The world’s most planted white wine grape varietal is enjoyed by fans all over the world. Generally dry to medium-dry with pear, apple, tropical or citrus fruit flavors, Chardonnay is grown in virtually every wine-producing region. Watch hot Girl Alone shows on live sex chat Girls from all over the World. . Online blonde webcam chat rooms sorted by categories. Hot amateur porn videos and best free sites. Crisp and fresh with little to no oak aging, or creamy and buttery with extensive oak aging, there’s a Chardonnay out there that will make just about anyone smile!

Enjoy the Chardonnay from Masia de la Vinya Winery, Thornton Winery or Wiens Family Cellars

But, who needs a National Day to enjoy a glass of wine or two?  That’s certainly not how we roll here in Temecula Valley, Southern California’s beautiful wine country.

#drinktemecula

Reference: Wine Folly

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Roots Run Deep in Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country

Friday, August 19th, 2016

IMG_7797_Family-1024x683In Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country, the family that wines together, stays together. At least that’s what it seems like given the number of family owned and operated wineries that populate the region.

What started out as Marcelo Doffo’s retirement project slowly evolved into a full-fledged, family-owned and operated winery, Doffo Winery, known for producing small-lot, hand-crafted reds. Upon his official retirement on January 1, 2016, Marcello turned the business over to his three children to run it. Son Damian serves as acting CEO and winemaker, and daughters Samantha and Brigitte serve as event coordinator and tasting room manager respectively.

“Our family bond has never been stronger, and we all share the same vision and goal, and the direction in which we are heading with our winery,” said Damian. “In all honesty, I wouldn’t have it any other way and I think we all share that same sentiment.”

The Doffo family shares many things, but most importantly, they are unified in their belief that quality winemaking starts in the vineyard. To this end, they hand-plant vines, meticulously prune and even play classical music for their vineyards to “soothe the grapes.” They also share a love of motorcycles. The Winery is home to MotoDoffo, the family’s private collection of over 100 racing and vintage bikes.

The Wilson Family opened Wilson Creek Winery because they all wanted to be together after parents Gerry and Rosie Wilson retired. Originally from Minnesota, the Wilsons had no experience as vintners other than making dandelion and rhubarb wine in their basement in the 1960s. Today, Wilson Creek is one of largest and most widely recognized wineries in Temecula Valley, and still run by family. Bill Wilson is CEO; Mick Wilson is COO; Deanna Wilson works in sales and distribution and Jennifer Wilson works in merchandising. The family can regularly be found on the grounds, meeting customers and working closely with winery staff. All would say Gerry and Rosie are the glue that holds everything together.

Some wineries are a union of not one but two families. Gary Winder started Stage Ranch Farm Management Inc. (parent company of Temecula Valley Winery Management) in the early 1970s. He was joined by Mike Rennie in the 1990s and together they focused on growing their vineyard operations, ultimately founding Leoness Cellars in 2002. Leoness is largely run by their families, including Rebaux and Jesse Steyn, Gary’s daughter and son-in-law. The staff describe the team as “more of a family group” than a traditional collection of employees, which they attribute to their unique family dynamic.

Lorimar Winery is owned by brothers-in-law Lawrie Lipton and Mark Manfield– the name is actually a hybrid of Mark and Lawrie. Lawrie’s daughter and son-in-law couldn’t escape the family business, both working there as well. And, one can’t visit Wiens Family Cellars without running into one of the Wiens– a whopping 19 family members are involved with the winery and brewery. “We are a tight-knit family and have always done things as a group,” said Jeff Wiens, owner and general manager. “So having a family business seemed a natural fit.”

Be sure to visit these and other Temecula Valley Southern California wineries this September, during California Wine Month. For more information, visit www.winemonth.org.

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Mid-Week Wine Tasting Guide

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

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?

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 30+ 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 two-for-one wine tasting coupons and 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.

You may want to visit in September, as we’re celebrating California Wine Month with a special weekday SIP Passport.  This passport allows you to visit any four wineries of your choice for $40.  Visit our website at www.temeculawines.org 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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Dream Big, Temecula Valley Winemakers!

Friday, January 30th, 2015

DSCN0926

This week we’re at the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium in Sacramento for a yearly industry event that helps keeps us all “in the know”.  Apart from pouring a sampling of fabulous Temecula Valley wines to some of the 14,000+ attending wine lovers, we caught up with a few of our own to find out what they were dreaming about while walking through the chock full convention center.

Arturo Villareal, winemaker at Danza del Sol was looking for some new barrels.  But what he’s really dreaming about is a new, much larger wine cellar.  Sorry, Art!  I don’t think they actually sell those.

We caught up with Damian and Marcello Doffo who were in the midst of purchasing a water treatment system for Doffo Winery. While it’s a much needed purchase, there’s certainly much more fun things to buy…

DSCN0885

Nick and Cindy Palumbo were looking for some portable stainless steel tanks.  And dreaming of a cold beer! As Nick always says, “it takes a lot of beer to make wine.”

BJ Fazeli, who’s winery is being built as we speak, needs everything for his new winery.  He brought along his wallet and is definitely dreaming BIG.

The Wiens brothers are in the market for a new de-stemmer but are dreaming about a new optical sorter that will separate and remove the less than perfect grapes from the sorting table.  It’s a winemaker thang!

JD Harkey and Chase Drake, of Drake Enterprises are dreaming REALLY big and hoping Ben pops for a machine harvester this year.

Jon McPherson and Javier Flores, the dynamic duo of winemakers at South Coast, were searching out some “state of the art” lab equipment for the new Carter Estate Winery which is scheduled to open in just a few weeks.

All in all, I’d say the Temecula Valley winemakers, while truly dreaming big dreams, were pretty down to earth.  Except for Art and that new cellar…

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Dream Big ~ Jim Carter, South Coast Winery

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Check in every month where we feature a new interview with a Temecula Valley winery owner. You’ll learn where they came from, why they chose Temecula – and what keeps them passionate about the sometimes not-so-glamorous life of a winery owner.

 

Jim and Dawn Carter, owners

Jim and Dawn Carter, owners

Today, we’re sitting down with Jim Carter, owner of South Coast Winery Resort and Spa, at the winery’s restaurant, Vineyard Rose. Never one to sit still for long, the energetic father of 13, grandfather to 27 and great-grandfather to 4 is a man on a mission!

South Coast Winery opened in 2001 and has grown exponentially since then, was that always part of the vision?
I knew what I wanted to build way before I started construction.  I’d visited wine regions throughout the state and knew that ultimately I wanted to have a place where people would want to come and stay amongst the vineyards. We built in phases, starting with the production side and the tasting room.  Phase 2 was the villas, phase 3 the Vineyard Rose restaurant, phase 4 the conference center and finished off with phase 5, the Grapeseed Spa. I think there was about 10 or 11 wineries when I started.  Who knew it was going to develop as quickly as it did?

But that really wasn’t what I had in mind when I bought my first Temecula vineyard property back in 1981.  I wanted to grow grapes. And I planted a lot of them beginning back in 1995 on a 400 acre piece of property that I’d purchased years before up along the east side of Mount Palomar. It’s a spectacular vineyard we named Wild Horse Peak and it produces some fabulous grapes.  My kids and I would spend weekends and summers up there digging and planting.  I just fell in love with the farming side.  The winery is the vehicle that allows me to be a grape grower.

The winery has quite an extensive menu of wines, was that also part of the plan?
We just kept planting to see which clonal varietals grew well here and we ended up liking pretty much everything we grew.  So we’re in a unique position in that we can now make a wine that suits just about anyone’s palate.  There’s a wine for everyone – and I want to make sure that visitors can discover what they love right here in our tasting room.  

So what’s next?
Carter Estate Winery and Resort.  The first phase of our family’s next adventure is set to open in January.  It’s a completely different concept from this winery.  Our production will be quite limited.  We sourced the fruit for these bottlings from some of our best vineyard blocks and have used the best barrels on the market to hand craft 4-5 different wines that we’ll be releasing under the Carter Estate label.  And we’re also really excited to announce that we’ll be showcasing some new “methode champenoise”, traditional style sparkling wines over there too.  We’re really anxious to share these small lot wines that we’ve been bottling and cellaring for awhile now.  

And we’re also breaking ground on a winery/brew pub in the Texas hill country, just outside of Austin in a town called Johnson City.  

Sounds like crazy talk to me! Do you ever sleep?  What keeps you awake at night?
I have a good life.  About the only think that keeps me awake is praying for rain! We sure need us a good rainy winter.

 

 

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Dream Big ~ John Thornton, Thornton Winery

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Check in every month where we feature a new interview with a Temecula Valley winery owner. You’ll learn where they came from before settling in Temecula, CA – and what keeps them passionate about the sometimes not-so-glamorous life of a winery owner.

The Thornton Family l-r:  Steve, Sally and John

The Thornton Family
l-r: Steve, Sally and John

Our ongoing series this month features John Thornton, of Thornton Winery, one of the valley’s “first”, which opened for business way back in 1988.  Learn why, after almost 30 years, “Mr. T”, as he’s lovingly known to us, still lives and breathes wine.

Why – or how on earth! – did you get into the wine business? And why was Temecula your chosen region?
Well, Sally and I used to travel extensively on business and everywhere we’d visit, we’d try to eat and drink local.  We loved the social aspect of food and wine together.  We thought, “Hey, we can start our own place and offer food and wine and it’ll be easy.” Boy, were we WRONG!  At the time, Ely Callaway was marketing Temecula as the perfect place to make wine and although the area had a small wine industry, we did some research and it did appear to be a “natural” fit for a wine country and poised for growth.

Running a small family winery – even one that’s been around for awhile like Thornton has – must present a unique set of challenges. What keeps you up at night? And what gets you up in the morning?
I think some of the same things that keep most business owners up at night; but for us it’s how to sell our wine, what wines to make, how to keep our customers happy, cash flow….but Steve works this part of the business, so I sleep pretty darn good!  What gets me up in the morning?  I get excited about the challenges in the business actually.  Challenges can be opportunities and we can take a challenge and turn it into something positive.

What do you MOST love about the wine industry?
What I love most about the wine industry is the people.  There are some of the nicest and most genuine people in this industry.  Another thing about this industry that is so great is sharing food and wine with friends;  it’s a wonderful thing.  You add music to that, and you’ve got the perfect combination.

Speaking of music, Champagne Jazz has been a staple in the music industry – and at Thornton – for almost 30 (!) years. Are you proud with its effect on our little wine country?
When we started Champagne Jazz, we never expected it to be what it is today.  It’s had a long life and it’s taken years and a lot of hard work to formulate.  It’s a continuous challenge to combine a food, wine and musical experience that will appeal to a broad audience.  We’re really proud that we’re bringing in some of the best jazz performers in the world. cheapigfollowers.com

Cafe Champagne was THE first restaurant in wine country. That must present its own unique opportunities and challenges?
Our biggest challenge was learning the food business.  It’s a tough business.  You’ve got to do a lot of research and make sure that you’ve got what people want.  You’ve got to come up with menus that appeal to customers and you’ve got to make the prices competitive in order to bring the people in.  The restaurant was originally “high-end”, but it’s now more casual.  Steve’s been teaching me that it isn’t always about what I want!  The customer is always right.  We’ve got to listen to them, try to pair the food and wine well, and make them happy.  We’ve got a lot more competition with our neighbors now, and while this is inevitable, it just keeps us planning and adapting.  We’re watching the valley get better and better and it’s exciting to watch!

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Dream Big ~ Oak Mountain Winery

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Check in every month where we feature a new interview with our Temecula Valley winemakers and winery owners. You’ll learn where they came from before settling in Temecula, CA – and what keeps them passionate about the sometimes not-so-glamorous art (and science) of making good wine in California.

Steve and Val hard hat-ting it!

Steve and Val hard hat-ting it!

Our ongoing series this month features Steve and Valerie Andrews of Oak Mountain Winery. Val’s dad and uncle were in the gourmet wine business back in the 60’s, way before it was popular. And all it took was a wine tasting trip with Val’s dad for Steve to get bit by the winemaking bug.

Why (on earth!) did you get into the wine business?
Well, we were already in love with the wine industry.  We lived on 10 acres, so we just  decided to plant it and try our hands at making some. Next thing we knew, we had three wine barrels of some pretty awesome wine and we just decided it was time to open a winery so we could actually sell all this liquid gold. That was the beginning of our home winery, Windy Ridge Cellars (now Temecula Hills Winery) in 2001.

And why Temecula?
Well, we lived here – and the climate is great for growing grapes. After several years of operating out of our home winery, we purchased the property where we now have Oak Mountain Winery.  We’ve been open since 2005.

So what’s it really like running a family owned and operated winery?
If you don’t love what you do you will never succeed in running a winery. We work seven days a week; 10-12 hours a day. But we DO love it!

What is it you MOST love?
We love the people we meet, the other winery owners and the lifestyle we live. We love the continuing education we receive at seminars – and what we learn from talking to other winemakers and owners. We love that there’s endless opportunities that the winery can offer to our guests. It allows us to be creative in our label designs, our tours and special deals, and our parties and events. We make each of them our own. For us it’s a shared interest we both love to explore.

So, on the opposite side of that, what keeps you awake at night?
There are challenges with running a small family business. The mix of all of our family’s personalities – working together every day – it’s a challenge for sure. But we like challenges! And, it makes us happy almost all of the time.

And the Caves! What does it mean to have (almost!) completed a project of this magnitude? I mean, really! How lucky are we???
The caves. A huge insightful undertaking! Two years in planning and nine months of digging. We’re still looking at about three more months to finish up all the little details. There is nothing like this in Southern California. When you get the chance to tour our caves, we promise you that you’ll feel like you’re on a mini vacation to Europe; like being sent back in time. We’re so excited and proud to have the first mined cave in Southern California. We just can’t wait for it to be finished!

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Winery Spotlight: Get to Know… Doffo Winery

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

The Story

Nestled on the Northeast border of the Temecula Valley, CA sits Doffo Winery. Founded in 1997 by Marcelo Doffo, it is one of a few micro-boutique wineries in the region and the only one built around the former site of a Temecula historic landmark schoolhouse. Situated on 15 acres of rolling vineyards, the winery possesses a unique combination of old world values and warm family charm.  It is also home to MotoDoffo, the family’s private collection of over 100 racing and vintage motorcycles.

Famous for handcrafted reds, Doffo is focused on small lot, limited production wines made in the old world style. Reminiscent of their Italian/Argentine heritage, Doffo is the only winery in the region to feature an outdoor, wood-burning oven and grill where they often serve “The Parilla”, a delicious staple of the Argentine table, served with their own Chimichurri sauce and paired with exceptional Doffo wine.

The Wines

The unique micro-climate of Temecula Valley drives the characteristics of their wines and plays a distinct role in shaping the final result. Their collective experience, family traditions and farming techniques, combine with the terroir to create intensely flavored wines of complex structure, texture and bold, rich fruit.

Their philosophy has always been that good winemaking begins in the vineyard. They start by hand planting each vine and providing careful attention daily. They prune their vines and thin their grape clusters throughout the growing season to maximize fruit concentration and ensure the highest quality in the grapes. They also play classical music in the vineyard to soothe the grapes as they develop and mature.

To shop the Doffo wine store online, click here.

The Tasting Room, Marketplace and Winery Tours

Doffo Winery’s motto, “Enter as a stranger… leave as a friend,” starts the moment you enter their intimate tasting room, filled with warm-colored hues, vintage Ducati motorcycles, stylish art prints and hospitable staff. The Doffo family greets you with a warm welcome and are always excited to share their passion for great wine and vintage motorcycles with their guests.

Doffo winery’s tasting room is open daily from 10am-5pm and offers two tasting options. Standard Wine Tasting is $10 and includes 6 wines. Premium Tasting includes 5 of their premium wines; prices vary on availability, so check with the staff to see what premium selections are being offered for the day.

Doffo offers a variety of vineyard and winery tours to suit your taste and budget. Enjoy one or all of them; either way you’re sure to have a wonderful experience.

SIP AND TOUR

Take a vineyard tour aboard the Doffo Winery “Malbec Express” – an eco-friendly, Ferrari-style Bus. You will learn all about Doffo’s unique farming methods, why they play music in the vineyard, the different varietals, and visit Marcelo’s incredible motorcycle collection. The tour concludes with a Premium Tasting and cheese plate in the Moto-Barrel Room.

Weekdays: 11am and 2pm

Weekends: 10am / 12pm / 2pm / 4pm

Admission: $45/person

Tours are approximately 1 1/2 hours

SELF-GUIDED WALKING TOUR

Visit Doffo and stroll the grounds of their beautiful boutique vineyard. This self-guided tour begins in their tasting room where you can pick up a tour brochure. It includes interesting facts and places on the Doffo property. There is no cost; just a few limitations and restrictions.

Hours: 10am – 5pm

Admission: Free

MOTODOFFO MOTORCYCLE COLLECTION VIEWING

Visit Doffo for their wines, but stay for a tour of their vintage motorcycle and scooters. There is no cost for this tour. Simply check in at the tasting room and stroll to the MotoBarrel Room to view the MotoDoffo collection.

Hours: Thursday and Sunday 10am – Noon

Admission: Free

For information on any of these tours, please call ahead to 866-469-8466 or ask for more details in the tasting room.

 

Celebrate with Doffo

Whatever time of year or occasion, Doffo would be pleased to welcome you and your guests for private events in any or all of their four unique spaces. Their staff is ready to bring your event to life with music, the finest cuisine, great wine and tailor-made packages with options including traditional Tango Dancers and Argentinian Gauchos serving up a special feast.

Please visit their events page or contact them for more information about planning your special event with Doffo at 866.469.8466.

Doffo Winery
36083 Summitville
Temecula CA, 92592
Phone 951.676.6989
866.469.8466 |866-4myvino
Email: info@doffowines.com

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