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Temecula Valley Winemakers Reflect on the 2023 Harvest and What’s in Store for 2024

The dust has finally settled on harvest 2023 and we are all now in the thick of holiday planning, shopping, and sipping. But these last few weeks of the year are also about reflecting on prior months, and looking ahead to what the new year brings.

It was in this reflective spirit that we caught up with some of our winemakers to chat with them about a few things; namely, how harvest went, what bottles they’re popping this holiday season, and what 2024 has in store not only for their own winery but for wine in general. Here’s what they had to say.


TVWA: How did harvest go?

RS: We started on August 20th with Sauvignon Blanc and we finished October 31st with Cabernet Sauvignon. It was a long, extensive harvest, and we are seeing good results so far. The fruit hung on the vines longer than expected, which was an uncommon thing in our region. We are excited to nurture these wines and see the bottled results in the coming years. So far, so good! 

TVWA: What are you looking forward to sipping this holiday season and why?

RS: I’ve been in the mood of red wine as of late and would like to sip our Retaggio red wine – a blend of our estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel blend. This will be a great wine for this holidays 

TVWA: What trends in wine are you seeing on the horizon for 2024?

RS: I believe the customer base in Temecula has become more receptive of new ideas of wines and also of different grape varieties; however I would say that sticking to what we do – pursuing perfection in our jobs in the vineyards, and understanding our climates and vines are what’s most important at the moment. Customers are eager to see the evolution of our wines at Avensole and the entire region.

We are under the eye of the consumer and they are waiting for us to deliver. I believe it is great for the region, our wineries, and us winemakers. No matter what we do, we must do it right and with a foundation behind it. 

TVWA: Is there anything new in 2024 that your winery will be doing that you haven’t done before?

RS: I know we are starting to be laser focused on producing wines that are more pairing-driven, and being able to match our wine profile with the exquisite flavors and dishes from our restaurant.


TVWA: How did harvest go?

NP: Harvest has finally wrapped up and all the wines are safely sleeping in our beautiful French oak barrels.

TVWA: What are you looking forward to sipping this holiday season and why?

NP: Going into the holidays we are looking forward to releasing our 2023 Viognier which will be a nice addition to our typically red wine only line up.  

TVWA: What trends in wine are you seeing on the horizon for 2024?

NP: People have been really receptive to “nontraditional” wine regions as well as more “off list” wine varieties. Temecula Valley is a perfect example of this. People are looking for fresh ideas and exciting wines that are coming out of regions that may have been overlooked in the past. Our Sangiovese, Tannat, Syrah, and various blends have been crowd-pleasers along with new releases like the aforementioned Viognier coming soon.


TVWA: How did harvest go?

SS: Harvest is over! Yay! Harvest is one of my favorite times of the year. This year, though, was a tough one. The weather was not our friend this year and we were constantly fighting rain throughout the summer. On top of that, we harvested more tons than we ever have here!

TVWA: What are you looking forward to sipping this holiday season and why?

SS: I will definitely be drinking some of our Dolcetto and Benedetto this holiday season with friends and family!

TVWA: What trends in wine are you seeing on the horizon for 2024?

SS: Seeing that it is slated to be a wet and cold year, I would think more people will be drinking comfort wine, like bigger reds. 

TVWA: Is there anything new in 2024 that your winery will be doing that you haven’t done before?

SS: If everything goes well, we should be expanding our production area by quite a bit, and also planting roughly 10 more acres of grapes. Very excited about this coming year!


TVWA: How did harvest go?

KF: We finished the first week of November. This year’s harvest was definitely challenging and kept me on my toes, but I’m very happy so far with the results I’m seeing in our wines.

TVWA: What trends in wine are you seeing on the horizon for 2024?

KF: I see a continued demand for more wines that have been produced with a conscientious view towards the environment; grapes and wines produced from vineyards that are farmed regeneratively for example. More and more people are concerned about where their food and beverages are coming from and how they are farmed and produced, which definitely has come to include vineyard and winery practices. 

TVWA: Is there anything new in 2024 that your winery will be doing that you haven’t done before?

KF: We are producing two new types of wine this year that I believe are firsts for Wilson – a Rosé of Cinsault, and Sangiovese. Always exciting to see how new wines turn out!


TVWA: Is harvest over for you? How did it go?

OB: Harvest wrapped up the second week of November. It was an extraordinarily long one! After 270 tons, 38 different vineyard lots, and countless pumpovers, we are thrilled to have completed another amazing harvest here at RRV. There were certainly some challenges this growing season, including the temperature fluctuations and intermittent rainfall through late summer. The more compact grape clusters struggled with mildew and mold damage due to moisture from rain getting trapped; however attentive and frequent canopy management helped eradicate problems.

TVWA: What trends in wine are you seeing on the horizon for 2024?

OB: I notice the interest in educational wine tasting has increased as well as the focus on transparent and sustainable winemaking practices. I’m thrilled to share with our consumers that we have officially become Sustainable by the CSWA for both Vineyard and Winery.  Focusing on vineyard techniques such as spreading compost, enhancing soil biodiversity, planting cover crops, no pesticides, and evaluating soils to produce healthier vines with greater longevity will result in higher quality grapes that produce higher quality wines.

TVWA: Is there anything new in 2024 that your winery will be doing that you haven’t done before?

OB: I’m proud to share our Vermentino trial this year in which we split 1 vineyard lot into 3 different tanks; our newly purchased terracotta clay amphora tank and concrete egg tank. The flavor profile is dramatically different among the 3 which will make for a fun tasting lineup after bottling each tank separately. We look forward to trialing our concrete and Amphora clay tanks with a few more varieties next year.     


TVWA: How did harvest go?

JM: Harvest started relatively late for us. We began on August 15 with Pinot Noir from Wild Horse Peak. We spent the next two days pressing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for our Carter Estate cuvée. Luckily, the rain from Hurricane Hilary did not hurt our fruit quality and the cooling trend afterwards gave us more slow ripening hang-time.

Our first grapes at South Coast were our estate Sauvignon Blanc. These set a record for the latest start to a harvest – August 29th. We drifted in and out of harvest for the month of September with various whites and early reds. Quality was exceptional but the overall yields were categorically low. Most of this was due to poor set, which is attributed to the late spring rains we had in May and early-June during bloom.

Our Wild Horse Peak reds that came in October were some of the best we had ever seen. Days were cool and nights were even cooler, so we feel the overall harvest was a true vintage year. We finished harvest on November 2nd with our Muscat of Alexandria.

TCWA: What are you looking forward to sipping this holiday season and why?

JM: The holidays are made for sparkling wine. If I’m not sipping on a Carter Estate sparkling wine, it will definitely be the Natural or Brut from South Coast Winery.

TVWA: What trends in wine are you seeing on the horizon for 2024?

JM: Sparkling wine remains a strong seller, but the competition between other alcoholic beverages, non-alcoholic choices, and those not drinking are cutting into wine sales. Many wineries are cutting production levels due to excess inventories.

TVWA: Is there anything new in 2024 that your winery will be doing that you haven’t done before?

JM: We will continue to make award-winning wines with 100% Temecula estate grown grapes.


TVWA: Is harvest over for you? How did it go?

RB: Harvest is over including harvesting all of our estate olives.  It started very late but the fruit was in good shape.

TCWA: What are you looking forward to sipping this holiday season and why?

RB: This holiday season I look forward to sipping and sharing a few bottles of our very first Estate Ciliegiolo.  We only had 1 barrel which is why I can’t share much more.  I really enjoyed the undeniable cherry flavors in this light red wine.

TVWA: What trends in wine are you seeing on the horizon for 2024?

RB: I am hopeful that tasters will continue to venture out and try varietals that they can’t get anywhere else or that they know little or nothing about. I would also hope that seasoned tasters will rock the boat a little and not just stick with their usual glass of wine. How about a Vermentino instead of a glass of Chardonnay?

TVWA: Is there anything new in 2024 that your winery will be doing that you haven’t done before?

RB: We’re trying to have more and meaningful events.  For instance, the week before the Super Bowl we have a beer education and pairing event that interests me as a wine drinker and also as a beer drinker (as the saying goes, it takes a lot of good beer to make great wine).


Dream Big, Temecula Valley Winemakers!


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…


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…


Thank a Winemaker Day!

Thank a Winemaker Day!

Anatomy of Winemaker

Gus Viszgirda, Wilson Creek winemaker

A recent photo shared by Wilson Creek Winery, “The Anatomy of a Winemaker”, created by winemaker, Gus Viszgirda, certainly gave us all a laugh. But it also made us think…

Clearly, making great wine is a hands-on profession. And the picture truly illustrates what our winemakers look like to us on any given work day. Gone is the clean clothed, shiny shoe’d, wine sipping winemakers most of our visitors are accustomed to seeing. Most of the time, they’re rubber boot wearing, wine stained cellar dwellars who are dragging hoses, cleaning tanks and topping barrels – all which are part of a days work. Truth be told, most days you couldn’t slap the smile off their faces.  Winemaking truly is a labor of love!

So, in their honor, we’ve decided to declare today, “Thank A Winemaker” day! Let your favorite winemaker know how much you appreciate all the effort that goes into each bottle. Without their dedication, what would we be drinking???


Dream Big ~ Oak Mountain Winery

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. Injectable preparations are a special category of substances in pharmacology. They help athletes achieve the results they need. Thus, most athletes choose this particular category of steroids. It has also been proven that injectable steroids have minimal toxic effects on the human liver. You can buy in on roid supplements uk online shop . Because the components of the drug instantly enter the human circulatory system. Injectable steroids are manufactured in solution form. This is usually an oil solution.

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!


Big Dreamers: Nick & Cindy Palumbo, Palumbo Family Vineyard & Winery

Welcome to our new blog series: “Big Dreamers.”

Here you’ll read about the inspiring true stories of our Temecula Valley winemakers and winery owners. You’ll learn where they’ve come from before settling in Temecula, CA – and what keeps them passionate about the sometimes not-so-glamorous art (and science) of making good wine.

Nick & Cindy Palumbo have owned and operated Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery since 1998.

1.  What were you doing before owning and operating your winery?

NICK:  I have done A LOT! I was an ocean lifeguard, a rock star in NYC, a chef and now – winemaker.

CINDY:  I was an insurance agent for 15 years prior to the winery.

2.  What inspired you to want to buy a winery and what were the circumstances around choosing Temecula Valley, CA?

NICK: I was just coming back to SoCal after time in NY and lucked into this emerging Valley.  I saw potential for better wine and vineyard quality than what was here before, so I took charge.

CINDY:  I was already living in Temecula Valley and met Nick after he purchased the vineyards. A few years later I encouraged him to turn the garage into a winery, to quit selling his fruit to other winemakers and to open up his own shop.

3.  What were your expectations of the winemaker lifestyle at the beginning?  Were they way off or right on?

NICK:  I only expected to have to work really hard.  I wanted to prove it could be done through hard work and sacrifice. I certainly didn’t expect to make any money at it. I was right! I knew what I wanted – and the rewards for making quality wine would come if I just kept my head down and proved it though doing it.

CINDY:  I had zero expectations of the lifestyle – and that’s probably a good thing. It’s not nearly as glamorous as most people think – but I wouldn’t change it!

4.  People might think winemaking is glamorous.  Would you like to set them straight?

NICK:  If you’re an authentic winemaker, the glamorous parts come when no one is looking. It’s a lifestyle that you can’t pretend to live. Working hard, raising children and farming for quality is the reward… not what people see in the magazines.

CINDY:  There are definitely some glamorous sides to the wine industry. Nick is so down-to-earth and he takes winemaking so seriously that we don’t really experience that side of it in our lives. A true winemaker is focused on just that – making good wine.

5.  What is your least favorite thing about running a winery?  What is your most favorite – the reason you get up in the morning?

NICK: There really is no part of what I do that is worse or better. If you love what you do for a living, then it’s all good!

CINDY:   Least favorite thing about owning a winery is probably the fact that we can never get away from it. We live there, we sleep there, we work there, we are raising our family there; it’s always our focus. Sometimes I think it would be nice to just be able to work 9 to 5 and leave the office at the office. My favorite part about it is the lifestyle. We live in the middle of a vineyard, we raise our own animals, our (four) kids get to grow up see what we make with our hands. Winemaking in Temecula is truly a labor of love that we are allowed to include our whole family in.

To learn more about California’s Big Dreamers, click here!

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