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February Winery Events

Tuesday, February 1st, 2022

Akash Winery & Vineyards
Valentine’s Dinner
| February 14th from 6:30pm-9:00pm | Join us for a 4-course dinner. Seating is for two only and space is limited to 10 tables (no group tables) | Cost $165 per person | Reservations can be made at www.akashwinery.com

Callaway Vineyard & Winery
Valentine’s Day Dinner at Meritage
| February 14 from 5pm-8pm | Cost: $90.00 for wine club members.  $100.00 for General public. Price is per person, plus tax, and gratuity. A wine pairing option is available for an additional fee | Join us this Valentine’s Day for an intimate evening of fine dining, spectacular wine and romance. We invite you to indulge yourself and your loved ones in a decadent four course, prix fixe dinner with stunning sunset vineyard views.at Meritage Restaurant | Reserve your table at: https://www.exploretock.com/callawaywinery or call (951) 587-8889.

Churon Inn Winery
Valentine’s Day Dinner |
February 13 & 14 | Enjoy a 3-course candlelit dinner with live music. Includes a bottle of sparkling wine | Cost is $99 per person/$89 per person for wine club members (price does not include tax and gratuity). | To view the dinner menu and to purchase your ticket, please visit our website, https://innatchuronwinery.com

Cougar Vineyard & Winery
Heart Shaped Pizza Experience
| February 13 & 14th from 11am-4:30pm | Wineclub $60 per couple; non-wine club $65 per couple | Grab your Sweetheart and escape to the vineyards this Valentine’s Day weekend 13th & 14th. Heart-themed Lunch for Two with a View.  Your heart & belly will be full!  Email events@cougarvineyards.com for reservations

Danza del Sol Winery
Trivia Night
| Every Friday Starting Feb 11th | Join us in our Tasting Room from 7pm – 9pm | Doors open at 6:30pm for seating. Food truck & prizes available.
Lover’s Flight in the Club House | February 12th starts at 12:00pm | Bring out your significant other and enjoy a curated pairing by our winemaker and Boards & Baskets | https://www.danzadelsolwinery.com/res-405013/Lovers-Flight.html
Couples Crepe Cooking Class in the Club House | February 13th from 10am-12pm | https://www.danzadelsolwinery.com/res-405012/Couples-Crepe-Cooking-Class.html

Doffo Winery
Sweetheart Dinner
| February 12th at 7:00pm | $165 per person | Please visit www.doffowines.com for reservation and to view our four-course pre-fixe menu details.

Frangipani Winery
Yoga in the Vines |
February 12th from 10am-12pm | $45 per person includes Yoga session, Wine tasting & light brunch. 
Valentine’s Day Dinner | February 14th at 6:30pm | Enjoy a four-course all-inclusive wine paired dinner by Chef Volker Lutz with theater show entertainment by Triple Threat Productions of Elvis & Friends Theater
Show | $150 non-members: $140 wine club members
Yoga in the Vines | February 26th from 10am-12pm | $45 per person includes Yoga session, Wine tasting & light brunch. 
Visit us at www.frangipanievents.com to purchase tickets to all our events.

Longshadow Ranch Winery
Special edition Valentine’s Day Date Night
Paint & Sip | February 11 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm | Bring your valentine for a Paint & Sip date night in the Longshadow Great Lodge!  Each partner will create 1/2 of an overall painting, when held together it’ll be a completed picture!  | Tickets are $40 each and include a glass of Longshadow wine + everything that you need to create your own artwork | Please visit www.longshadowwinery.com to reserve your spot today.
Friday Night Flights – Wine & Food pairings in the Lodge. Bonfire Saturday Nights – Wine, BBQ, and Live Music at private fire tables. Sunday Brunch starting at 11am. For information on all these activities please visit our website at www.longshadowranchwinery.com for reservations and pricing.

Lorimar Vineyards & Winery
Galentine’s
| February 8th from 6pm-9pm | Girl’s night with local vendors, photo booth, wine and more! | $10/$9WC | visit https://shop.lorimarwinery.com/res-414598/Galentines-Day.html  to purchase tickets or call 951-694-6699 X109
Valentine’s Day Dinner | February 14 from 7pm-9pm | Enjoy a romantic four-course prix fixe dinner for two with a bottle of Lorimar wine | $150/$135WC (1 adult ticket is for 2 people). To purchase tickets or call 951-694-6699 X109
Smoke and Vine | February 25th from 7pm-10pm | An evening of cigars and wine | $125/$112 WC | visit https://shop.lorimarwinery.com/res-414593/Smoke-And-Vine-An-Evening-Of-Cigars-And-Wine.html to purchase tickets or call 951-694-6699 X109

Masia de la Vinya Winery
Couple’s Paint + Sip | February 13 from 2:00pm -3:30pm | $40 per person; tickets via Pretty Paints https://www.prettypaintsparty.com/new-products-2/masiadelavinyavalentines
Karaoke Night |February 25th, 5:30pm – 9:00pm – The Mac Food Truck 4pm – 8:30pm  

Raul Ramirez Winery
Valentine’s Day Celebration
| February 10th from 2:30 to 5 pm | Cost $69.00 per person | Seafood Paella and Tarta de Santiago by Spaniard Chef Alvaro Baeza and paired with our estate wines. Entertainment & Music by Lex Borja | To purchase your tickets please visit https://www.raulramirezwinery.com/product/Valentine-s-Celebration       

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa
Valentine’s Day Dinner Specials at The Vineyard Rose Restaurant
| Available February 10th – 14th, 5:30pm – 9pm | To view specials and to make reservations, visit https://www.southcoastwinery.com/dining/valentines  
Romance Package is available for a Valentine’s Day Weekend Getaway. Package includes overnight stay in Luxury Accommodations, Bottle of Sparkling Wine, Chocolate Covered Strawberries, and Rose Petals. Book via https://www.southcoastwinery.com/dining/valentines  or call 844.977.0206.      

Wilson Creek Winery
Valentine’s Day Lunch and Dinner at The Creekside Grille
| Monday, February 14th. Reservations recommended: https://www.wilsoncreekwinery.com/restaurant/reservations/  

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

Tuesday, February 1st, 2022

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

GETTING OUT AND ABOUT

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

SIP Passport:

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

Monte de Oro Signature Food and Wine Series:

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

Bottaia Blending Lab:

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

Doffo Winery Sweetheart Dinner:

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

Galentine’s at Peltzer:

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

Wine and Wellness at Akash:

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

STAYING COZY AT HOME

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

Bubbles

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

A few to try:

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

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

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

Big, Bold Reds

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

A few to try:

Baily Winery 2018 Meritage, $75

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

Leoness Cellars 2018 Signature Series “Eloquent”, $99

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

Fazeli Cellars 2017 Shiraz, $50

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

Something Sweet

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

A few to try:

Callaway Vineyard & Winery Late Harvest Cabernet Sauvignon, $26

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

Mount Palomar Limited Reserve Tawny Port, $65

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

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A Duo of Delicious Spreads

Monday, December 20th, 2021

If you’re entertaining, these simple and delicious spreads might be just what you’re looking for. Serve these wine-friendly spreads individually or as a colorful duo with a basket of flatbread crackers, crostini or pita crisps. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Sparkling Wine or Sparkling Rosé.

A Duo of Delicious Spreads

Ingredients:

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper and Feta 

  • 1 large roasted red bell pepper, skinned and seeded 
  • 6 ounces (scant 1 cup/180 g) feta  
  • 1 large garlic clove 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • Hot red pepper and sea salt to taste 


Spinach, Cilantro and Tahini Spread 

  • 1 cup (1.5 oz/45 g) packed baby spinach leaves (no stems) 
  • ½ cup (65 g) frozen peas (no need to thaw) 
  • 1 green onion, white and pale green part only, sliced 
  • 6 to 8 sprigs cilantro, no thick stems 
  • 1 small garlic clove, sliced 
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) tahini 
  • Sea salt 
  • Lemon juice, as needed 


Directions:

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper and Feta 

In a food processor, puree all ingredients until fully blended. The mixture will be soft. Chill slightly to firm it. 

Spinach, Cilantro and Tahini Spread 

Put the spinach, peas, green onion, cilantro and garlic in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add the tahini and a large pinch of salt and blend until smooth. Taste for salt and add a few drops of lemon juice if needed to brighten the flavor. 

Suggested Pairings:

Callaway Winery ~ NV Sparkling Bella Rosé – Elegant in both color and flavor, this charming wine greets you with juicy peach aromas touched with spicy white pepper. 

South Coast Winery ~ Extra Dry Brut – Delicate apple and berry with toasty yeast notes.

Thornton Winery ~ NV Brut – A blend of primarily Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, giving our wine exciting, crisp fruit characters while taking on a clean and straightforward yeast flavor from the lengthy tirage time. 

Wilson Creek Winery ~ Rosé Sparkling Wine – Crisp, elegant and flavorful.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California.

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

Friday, December 3rd, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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November Winery Events

Friday, November 5th, 2021

Fun Fall Events!

There’s a chill in the air now and suddenly we’re planning holiday meals! Whether your holiday plans keep you close to home or off visiting relatives, plan to sneak in a trip to Temecula Valley Wine Country to stock up on your favorite wine, or attend one of the great events going on in wine country!

De Portola Wine Trail
The DWT “Harvest Celebration” | November 7th from 10:00am to 5:00pm | Featuring noshes from 10 local artisan chefs, each offering their specialty. Every sample is expertly paired with three wines from each of the following wineries: Cougar Vineyard & Winery, Danza del Sol Winery, Fazeli Cellars, Frangipani Winery, Gershon Bachus Vintners, Leoness Cellars, Masia de la Vinya Winery, Oak Mountain Winery, Robert Renzoni Vineyards & Somerset Winery. For a carefree day without driving, hop on the special Harvest Shuttle provided by Grapeline Wine Tours, with pickups at hotels and many vacation rentals. Or charter a private vehicle for parties of 2 to 40, including Grapeline’s unique 18-passenger convertible Mercedes Sprinter. For more information and to purchase your tickets please visit https://www.deportolawinetrail.com/festivals-and-events

Europa Village Winery & Resorts
Salsa Nights at Bolero | November 2; 7pm-10p | Tickets: $15 Gen Admission; Members $12 | Includes one glass of wine, beer, or Sangria | Calling all hombres and mujeres! Dust off your dancing shoes and join us on La Plaza at Bolero for an exhilarating night of Salsa dancing. Featuring live music by Kimba Light, Salsa lessons, Spanish wines, and tasty tapas | RSVP today – limited tickets available! Guest must be at least 21 years of age and present a valid government issued photo ID at the door. Purchase tickets at https://shop.europavillage.com/Shop/Events/Salsa-Nights

Thanksgiving Brunch Buffet | November 25th | 11am – 4pm | Adults: $79; Members: $71.10, Children: $39; Members: $35.10 |Europa Village’s culinary brigade is bringing the heat this Thanksgiving with a fantastic brunch buffet featuring traditional holiday flare and other Spanish favorites at Bolero Restaurante. Don’t miss out on this incredible feast that will leave no one hungry | For reservations please call us at 951.414.3802. Reservations required | **All guests will be required to provide a credit card to make a reservation. Reservations that are canceled within 24hrs will incur a $25 per cancellation fee**

Foot Path Winery
Sweet & Savory Phyllo Dough Classes
| November 20th 10:00am-3:00pm | $50pp | For those of you who wish to know the art of the Phyllo come join us in one of the instruction classes held at Foot Path Winery. Just in time for holiday parties. What you will learn: Phyllo dough do’s and don’ts, the art of Baklava and Spanakopita making. Recipes and instruction information will be handed out at each class. Along with where to purchase the phyllo dough you require for your project. Two classes will be held one in November and one in December and limited to 16 ppl. You will work with a team and each member will help with the preparation of the baklava. There will be sampling of the items made that day | Included with your fee will be an eight sheet of Baklava prepared the day of the class to take home, along with information and butter brush | You can secure your spot, online or by sending in the class fee by November 13, 2021 to Foot Path Winery, 36650 Glenoaks Rd., Temecula, CA 92592 or if you are in Wine Country, you can come by the winery and make payment via Credit Card. Call Chris at 951-764-1849 or Email – deanefoote@verizon.net for additional questions or reservation | Call and reserve your spot on the assembly line….dancing is not required!

Tamale Making Classes – Pork Tamales with Red Chile | November 27th 10:00am-3:00pm | $50pp | For those of you who wish to know the art of the Tamale come join us in one of the instruction classes held at Foot Path Winery. Fee includes a dozen take home tamales prepared at class with written information. Learn masa, sauce, meat, and corn husk preparation and most of all, where to purchase your ingredients for the Tamales. Three classes will be held one in November and two in December | Class size is limited to 20 people. Based on the quantity of people we will either have teams of 4 or 5. Tamale making is an assembly process…did anyone say TEQUILLA! | You can secure your spot, online or by sending in the class fee by November 20, 2021 to Foot Path Winery, 36650 Glenoaks Rd., Temecula, CA 92592 or if you are in Wine Country, you can come by the winery and make payment via Credit Card. Call Chris at 951-764-1849 or Email – deanefoote@verizon.net for additional questions or reservation | Call and reserve your spot on the assembly line….dancing is not required! 

Peltzer Family Cellars
Peltzer Ice Rink Opening Day on November 15
| The rink will be open from 11-15-21 through 1-30-2022 | Please visit www.peltzerwinery.com for reservations!

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa
Winemakers Dinner
| November 18 starts at 5:00pm | Guests are in for a delicious treat that has been skillfully crafted by our culinary team and carefully paired with wines. https://store.wineresort.com/winemaker-s-dinner-thursday-november-18th-wd1118?returnurl=%2fevents%2f

Thanksgiving at The Vineyard Rose Restaurant | Restaurant will be offering a limited menu featuring both regular menu items as well traditional Thanksgiving cuisine starting at 11:30AM. Please visit this link for more reservation and additional information https://www.southcoastwinery.com/dining/thanksgiving

Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Festival | November 28th | 5:00pm – 8:00pm | Adults $50, Children $25 (4-10yrs) Children under 3 & under are free | This event is full of activities for the entire family to enjoy. Tickets include buffet dinner, Christmas Carolers, Horse Drawn Trolley & Tractor Rides, Face Painting & Crafts, Photos with Santa, and of course Tree Lighting!  For tickets, please visit https://www.southcoastwinery.com/tree-lighting

Wilson Creek Winery
Mixology Wine Experience | November 4th | 11:00am-1:00pm | Plan a visit to Wilson Creek Winery to join us for an hour of interactive session of learning and sampling some of our most popular wine cocktails. Tickets from $25.00-$35.00. For tickets, please visit www.wilsoncreekwinery.com

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It’s Official: Harvest is Here!

Wednesday, September 1st, 2021

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at What Goes on in the Vineyard and Winery Before, During, and After Harvest in Temecula Valley

Evening Harvest

Equipment has been washed and sanitized. Bins have been readied. Summer vacations have been enjoyed, bodies rested and refueled for the work to come.

And then it begins. That perfect brix reading on the refractometer, telling winemakers and vineyard managers that the sugars in the grapes are where they want them to be. A quick sampling of a few berries straight off the vine indicate perfect phenolic ripeness – the grape skins have lost unpleasant, bitter flavors and have softened into something that will produce delicious, balanced wine. It’s go-time – the official kick-off of harvest. And it’s all underway in Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country right now.

This is a busy time in the vineyard and the winery, and no day is the same. We caught up with a few Temecula Valley winemakers and winery staff to check in on how it’s all going, and what a typical day might look like at the winery during harvest. We also asked them if they have any superstitious, pre-harvest rituals and found out that winemaking isn’t all science and agriculture… it’s also a little bit of magic as well.

THE PREP

For the team at Peltzer Farm & Winery, the days leading up to harvest contain an energy shared by all. “Harvest season is usually an exciting state of limbo,” says Tasting Room Manager Danae Wager. “The grapes tell US when they’re ripe, so we wait on the sidelines in anticipation as the season begins. Typically, farmers wait until dark to pick the fruit, which preserves the sugar and acid levels needed to curate the desired end result that ends up in the bottle.” 

Oak Mountain Winery owner Valerie Andrews paints a picture of the days and weeks leading up to the big moment when harvest officially begins:

“Oak Mountain’s harvest routine is to hurry and bottle everything in the tanks so we will have room for harvest. Next, we wash and test all equipment, as it has been sitting all year. Steve, by this time, has ordered yeasts and supplies so we are ready when Mother Nature says ‘go.’ We check last year’s timing of when we picked grapes and start testing sugar levels, then cross our fingers that we can get pickers to pick when we are ready. Fortunately, it always works out! Now it’s time for a glass of wine.”

Nick Palumbo, owner and winemaker at Palumbo Family Vineyards and Winery, compares prepping for harvest to getting ready for a busy night of service at a restaurant.

“[It’s like] Mise en Place,” he explains. “This is a French term often used in professional cooking that roughly translates into ‘Get your act together!’ But what it really means is, before you get started, gather all you will need, do your prep work and make sure everything is in place. The best run restaurants as well as wineries know this well and plan ahead. Harvest is and can be unpredictable, chaotic and fast-paced but if you are ready it can also be smooth and predictable.”

Some pre-harvest rituals are more superstitious. “We bury 11 pennies in the ground on the first day of harvest,” says Sharon Cannon, Director of Operations for Akash Winery. “It’s an Indian good luck tradition that [Co-owner] Mrs. Patel started for the winery.”

Or they’re just plain sensible:

Says Joe Wiens, winemaker at Wiens Family Cellars: “We don’t really have any pre-harvest rituals besides stocking up the fridge with beer!”

THE REAL WORK

So once all of the pieces are in place, what does an actual day of working harvest look like?


Joe Wiens shares a snapshot of what the day-to-day can look like during this exciting time in Wine Country:

“We typically get in at 6 or 7 AM.  One of us will start with turning caps on our fermenting reds, while the other weighs the newly delivered fruit.  We taste the fermenting reds (not the most fun thing in the world at 6am!) and decide if anything is ready for pressing.  The remainder of our workday entails racking settling wines, pressing and processing, and running lab analysis.”

While it’s exhausting work, Joe credits the sense of community and shared responsibility for getting them through it. “Our team has been together for years, and everyone is trained on many of our responsibilities from processing, to preparing yeast additions, to lab analysis and data entry,” he says. “We get the music going early and all work really well together to make the long days feel shorter.”

“Our days here at Palumbo start as early as 2 am and can last well into the night,” shares Nick Palumbo. “Then off to sleep for a few hours before starting again. We are a small, family winery so everyone gets involved. We are in the field sorting leaves out of the bins, then off to the crush pad for processing, fermenting, pressing, and barreling. There is a lot to do but somehow, we get it done each year. As we have always said we don’t have a choice; it will get done somehow.”

“A typical day consists of early morning vineyard visits to collect grape samples for analysis, brix and temperature readings on all fermenting wines, smelling the top of each fermenting tank to make sure there are no ‘off’ odors or nutrient deficiencies, and most importantly, tasting each lot daily,” explains Olivia Bue, Winemaker at Robert Renzoni Vineyards.

“And, once the reds come in, the real harvest bootcamp begins, with pumpovers three times a day, with at least three hours off in between. This involves sanitizing all hoses and pumps before and after each lot. As the reds approach the end of alcoholic fermentation its time press the wine off the skins… Each day consists of a lot of cleaning and scrubbing.”

Olivia says the hardest part of her day is when the alarm goes off at 3 AM. It’s also incredibly rewarding with moments of beauty as well. “[I love] processing the grapes as the sun rises,” she says. “I also love when the last lot is pressed out – not because harvest is over, but because I can look back and feel proud of all the blood, sweat, and tears put into the vintage.”

She also loves the team building that happens over their traditional 9AM happy hours.

Over at Wilson Creek, the day-to-day looks similar. And they get ready for the mammoth task ahead by going out for pizza and beer the Friday before harvest begins.

“We start picking at 10 PM and, depending upon the varietal, we finish with the harvest crew at 3 am,” says Wilson Creek Winery winemaker Gus Vizgirda. “The cellar crew kicks in on the crushpad at 4 AM. Whites are crushed and pressed and put in the tanks. Reds are crushed and put in the tank for two weeks for fermentation.”

With a total of 140 acres to harvest, this goes on for about 2.5 months, with two crews of twenty people working seven days a week. This hard work is recognized and rewarded in two ways. First, Gus arrives every morning at sunrise when the grapes are on the crushpad, and he plays the bugle for everyone – including the grapes.

Head on over to Lorenzi Estate Wines and you will see their crew at 3 AM, planning the day, taking readings, doing pumpovers, and picking crop starting around 4 AM, with the goal of being done by lunchtime so that they can avoid that Southern California midday heat in early Fall.

At Gershon Bachus, the dawn patrol continues, with the picking crew arriving around 3AM as well to pick the fruit and drop it at the winery’s production area.

“Our team arrives by 7AM,” explains Gershon Bachus owner Christina Falik and winemaker Dakota Denton. “For our hillside vineyards, we have a team picking out the leaves and bad clusters as the grapes take a ride on the elevator. The winemaking staff secures the connections to our concrete tanks where the fruit will go through fermentation.  Then the pumpovers begin in order to make sure the must stays wet. This is done twice per day, until fermentation is done. Harvest for us goes fast, and is intense, as the fruit tends to ripen at a similar pace.”

What many people don’t realize is just how physically demanding harvest and winemaking are, requiring long hours, heavy-lifting, and early starts. “On a complicated day you can crush/destem, pump over, press, and move wine into barrels,” continues Christina. “This is not a day for the weary.”

The excitement – and work! – of harvest isn’t limited to those working in the vineyards or cellar. Oftentimes, the experience is shared by everyone at the winery.

“We love to gather and watch or participate in picking the fruit and making memories together,” says Danae at Peltzer. “Seeing the process firsthand and learning exactly how each grape is processed reignites our passion for farming and high-quality winemaking. We typically order pizza and invite the families of our staff to join in the festivities and ask as many questions as possible!” 

THE AFTERMATH

And when it’s all over? At Wilson Creek, once harvest is complete, the team has a huge – and well-deserved – harvest party among the vines.

And they’re not the only ones celebrating a job well done. “Our end-of-harvest ritual is a PARTY,” says Christina. “Since our season is so short, it precedes the holiday season and is just as festive.”

Photo courtesy of Matthew Burlile- Instagram: @temeculaphotography

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Cheers to Dad! Father’s Day in Wine Country

Thursday, June 3rd, 2021

Cheers to Dad!

Summertime kicks off with a number of exciting events to celebrate Dad at your favorite Temecula wineries! From Father’s Day BBQ’s and brunches – you’ll find a handsome way to say “thank you” to that special father in your life.

Akash Winery & Vineyards        

BMW Performance Centre – West will be onsite with one of their performance BMW’s. Two gift certificates worth $299 each to be won. From 11am to close. Street Foods Co. Entertainment by Dustin Jake.

Cougar Vineyard and Winery

Stout Beer Floats, Stogies, and Pulled Pork Sandwiches.  11-4pm.  Call to reserve your spot today 951.767.8457. Cost $35 wineclub, $40 non-wineclub, 25 children 5-12, under 5 free when Dad present.

Europa Village Winery & Resort

This Father’s Day celebrate with an extravagant beer brunch buffet at Bolero Restaurante. Enjoy a complimentary glass of Bolero Beer or Cava and indulge in a variety of Spanish Fare. With everything from a Pastry station to a Seafood station to a Spanish Toast and Waffle Station to an Omelet and Carving Station, the options are endless! Seating Indoor & Outdoor at Bolero Restaurante | 10 am to 2 pm, Adults: $62 | Société / Europa Table members – $55.80, For reservations call 951.414.3802

Falkner Winery

Celebrate Dad this Sunday, June 20th at the Pinnacle Restaurant. This year we will be offering a $64 for two Father’s Day Special Menu featuring a shared Santa Barbara salad, Rib Eye Steak or Grilled Salmon entrees, & a dessert to share. Reservations available on Opentable.com or by calling (951) 676-8231 Option 4

Longshadow Ranch Winery       

Live music, food truck, wine, beer and brunch (reserve online at Longshadowranchwinery.com)

Peltzer Family Cellars

Annual Father’s Day Cornhole Tournament from 9-5pm on June 20th. Located on the Farm, cash jackpot, $50 ticket includes one team of two! Reserve your spot at peltzerwinery.com.

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa            

Live music, food truck and lawn games. No reservation or purchases needed.

Wiens Family Cellars

This Father’s Day have a relaxed wine experience. Offering our “Big Reds” and “Crisp Whites”. No reservations are needed for the main tasting room or patio for groups 7 or smaller. For groups of 8 or more, please go to https://www.wienscellars.com/large-group-request or call 951-694-9892 to make reservations. Open daily from 10:30 am to 6:00 pm.

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Your Guide to the Perfect Temecula Valley Wine Country Picnic

Thursday, June 3rd, 2021

Picnicking with Wine

While Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country has many different restaurant dining options at wineries as well as in town, it’s also a great place for a casual picnic (over a glass or two of local wine, of course). With gorgeous weather virtually year-round, and plenty of places to grab delicious provisions, it’s time to pack your picnic basket and head out to Southern California’s most picturesque wine region for a perfect al-fresco wining and dining experience. Here’s how.

Step 1.  Pick Your Spot.

You truly can’t go wrong throwing down a blanket at any of the Temecula Wineries that offer grounds for picnicking while in Wine Country. Many wineries also conveniently offer a selection of small bites to purchase with your wine, like snack boxes with cheese, charcuterie, and other wine-friendly nibblies.

Wilson Creek Winery has sprawling grounds with plenty of spots to settle in for a day of sipping, noshing, and relaxing. There’s even a small children’s play structure for an experience that keeps the whole family happy. Longshadow Ranch Vineyard and Winery is also a great place to visit, offering panoramic views of Wine Country in a working farm setting, as well as a friendly cohort of animal pals to meet. Stop in at Maurice Car’rie Winery and grab one of their world-famous baked brie and sourdoughs along with a bottle of their estate grown and produced wine and you have yourself a perfect picnic lunch.

Step 2. Stock Up on Tasty Bites.

Most wineries have something for you to grab on-site to go with your wine, whether it’s a full restaurant meal, a few picnic staples, or local food trucks parked outside. Sangio’s Deli at Cougar Winery is one of our favorites for delicious subs and sandwiches, pizzas and salads, paired perfectly with the wines made primarily from native Italian grapes. Watch the world go by on the patio at Doffo Winery over a cheese and charcuterie plate or a hummus plate featuring their famous housemade chimicurri, prepared daily by Fuego y Sal Catering, while sipping on one of the winery’s many award-winning selections.

If you’d prefer a true Wine Country picnic, stop by Grazing Theory in Temecula and order one of their eye-catching, gourmet charcuterie or veggie lunch boxes that feature lots of local ingredients and artisanal products. Or, grab one of the delicious sandwich selections prepared on bread baked in-house daily from Great Harvest Bread Co. in town for the perfect picnic lunch.

Step 3. Pop a Bottle.

While we always believe that if you like the wine, and you like the food, you have yourself a perfect pairing, there are nevertheless some wines that just seem made for Wine Country picnicking.

Whether you’re celebrating a milestone Wine Country-style, or simply celebrating everyday life, a bottle of bubbly is always a delight. Carter Estate Winery and Thornton Winery offer the valley’s best traditional-method sparkling wines in a range of styles, from brut to sweet, Blanc de Blancs to Blanc de Noirs and everything in between. Sparkling wines are also the perfect pairing for a just about any dish, so sip this festive wine while taking in Vineyard views and enjoying the afternoon breezes Temecula Valley is so famous for. We also love a crisp white or light rose while noshing on picnic fare, especially in the warmer months. Hart Winery produces several crisp, clean, mouth-watering white wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino, and Arneis that are perfect for sipping at one of their picnic tables in the summer. If you’re feeling pink, grab a bottle of Akash Winery’s Parlez Vous Rosé for a tasty lunch accompaniment. If red wine is more your thing, try something lighter and fruitier, like a bottle of Fazeli Cellar’s Phel Phel, a bright and juicy 100% cinsault, or even something like South Coast Winery’s sparkling Shiraz for something totally different.

Step 4. Strike a Pose.

No picnic is complete without a few selfies or group photos! Showcase you, your family and friends living your best life in Temecula Valley with a photo or two to document the occasion. Don’t forget to tag us at @temeculawines and use the hashtag #DrinkTemecula so we can share in your adventures!

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Move Over, Chardonnay. Sauvignon Blanc is Here and it is a Must-Sip From Temecula Valley

Tuesday, May 4th, 2021

National Sauvignon Blanc Day is officially May 7. While we find ourselves asking, “Who creates these ‘days’ anyway?” we love any opportunity to celebrate the grapes that thrive in Temecula Valley’s warm, Mediterranean climate. So, in honor of this deeply important holiday, we sipped through a whole lot of Sauvignon Blanc in order to come up with a round-up of some of our favorites from Southern California’s Wine Country. We also chatted with some Temecula Valley winemakers who shared their thoughts on what makes Sauvignon Blanc so special in the region.

Akash Winery 2020 Sauvignon Blanc, Temecula Valley, $36

Akash Winery 2020 Sauvignon Blanc

This lush yet refreshing Sauvignon Blanc, produced from 100% estate-grown Akash Vineyards fruit, is sure to win you over with its juicy pineapple, peach nectar, and orange blossom aromas. Warm days and cool nights allow the grape to ripen slowly and evenly, offering crisp natural acidity to perfectly balance the ripe guava and grapefruit flavors. An incredibly versatile white that’s a treat for any occasion.

Europa Village Winery 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, $27

Flintiness and bright acidity balance a lovely richness of body highlighted by yellow apple and white peach. Pairing with grilled fennel crusted oysters or a Wine Country Salad topped with a dollop of creamy Chevre serves to even further enhance the sensory experience this wine delivers.

“Sauvignon Blanc shows its beauty in its diversity,” explains Matt Rice, Director of Tasting Rooms at Europa Village. “A top example from the Loire Valley might show a bracing acidity and flint character where a compatriot from Bordeaux might show creamy pear and a silky soft texture. It is always an excellent choice for Temecula Valley, as the warm days allow the variety to deliver a unique ripeness and rich body. This intertwines perfectly with the bright acidity the grapes attain due to the cool nights made possible by the Rainbow Gap letting in cooling afternoon and evening winds.”

Oak Mountain Winery 2020 Sauvignon Blanc, Temecula Valley, $26

Only 85 cases were produced of this Sauvignon Blanc, which opens with complex aromas of lime leaf, pink grapefruit, green apple, lemon grass, honey-suckle, and wet stone. Refreshing, forward, zesty flavors of lime, lemon, grapefruit, white peach, and passion fruit follow with bright acidity.

South Coast Winery 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, Temecula Valley, $18

South Coast Winery 2018 Sauvignon Blanc

Produced from the Musque clone – a hybrid cross of sauvignon blanc and muscat that offers the best characteristics of both varieties – this wine has the floral, spicy nature of Muscat tempered by the grassy, citrus character of Sauvignon Blanc, resulting in a wine that is a cornucopia of flavors and aromas: sweet kiwi and lime, gooseberries, pears, passion fruit and wildflowers. A crisp acidity is delicately laced throughout the wine, giving a zesty, clean finish. Harvested from Carter Estate Vineyards, this wine emulates the Sauvignon Blancs of Sancerre and the Menetou-Salon regions of France. 92% is fermented in stainless steel, resulting in a fruit character that is very upfront and clean. The balance was fermented in two-use French oak and that portion was blended back prior to bottling.

“Utilizing a split harvest, where parts of the vineyard block are harvested at different levels of ripeness yields flavors that range from grassy green to tropical ripe,” explains South Coast and Carter Estate Winemaker Jon McPherson. “Also, using different yeast selections and fermentation regimes, we build layers of complexity into the wine which all add up to a Sauvignon Blanc with rich character, depth and dimension.”

Falkner Winery 2020 Sauvignon Blanc, Temecula Valley, $35

This delicious straw-colored wine has wonderful favors of white peach, ripe lime, and floral notes of almond blossom with a nice, lingering finish.  This wine is great for just sipping or enjoying with food, especially as the weather warms.  The wine pairs well with seafood (shellfish in particular), chicken, and cheeses.

“Here at Falkner Winery, we pride ourselves in producing high quality wines from whites to reds. Our Estate Sauvignon Blanc is a premier wine that our wine club members have enjoyed for many years,” says Raymond Murgo, Falker Winery’s Tasting Room Manager. “We feel that Temecula Sauvignon Blanc presents a fresh, aromatic bouquet, with wonderful fruit-forward flavors and a strong, lingering finish.”

Hart Winery 2020 Sauvignon Blanc, Temecula Valley, $28

This 100% Sauvignon Blanc is all estate grown using 65% Musque clone and 35% traditional California clone. Produced using all stainless and no oak, it shows crisp acidity, intense aromatics, citrus, tropical notes, and hints of grass.

Fazeli Cellars 2019 Boland Rooz, Temecula Valley, $30

Fazeli Cellars 2019 Boland Rooz

The Summer Solstice heralds the beginning of the season and the longest day of the year. To commemorate the occasion, Fazeli Cellars has chosen Sauvignon Blanc, harvested from owner BJ Fazeli’s estate vineyards, for its dry, crisp, and refreshing taste to celebrate the hot summer days. This 100% Sauvignon Blanc is mouthwateringly fresh, with a nose that is sweetly grassy with a hint of citrus.

“The diurnal temperature swings of hot days and cool nights epitomize what is great about Temecula vineyards,” explains Fazeli Cellars Winemaker Allen Kim. “Often times in the morning when you visit the vineyard, located at an elevation of 1800 feet, the grapes are sitting in a cloud of fog or even above the fog layer. The cold air that comes from the Pacific Ocean just miles away from us allows the grapes to retain important natural acidity as well as cooling down the temperature of the vines. Acid is so important in our Sauvignon Blanc because it gives the vibrancy and life to the wines. We are lucky that following this period of cooling, our days are characterized by great sun exposure that allows the vines to completely dry out and achieve ripeness.”

Wiens Family Cellars 2019 Sauvignon Blanc, Riverside County, $26

Wiens Family Cellars 2019 Sauvignon Blanc

This Sauvignon Blanc has aromas of Tropical Fruit, and Fresh Herbs, with Kiwi and Green Melon on the palate, and a refreshingly crisp finish. Additionally, this wine has been aged on the lees (sur lie), giving the finished wine a creamy custard note to help balance the crisp acidity. 

“Depending on when its harvested, Sauvignon Blanc can either be light, with grassy, boxwood, and gooseberry notes, meaning it’s less ripe, or have luscious honey and tropical fruit notes in a riper style,” says Wiens Winemaker, Joe Wiens. “We appreciate both styles of Sauvignon Blanc, so we harvest in two stages.  This allows us to meld the crisp, light character of less ripe fruit, with the tropical guava notes of more ripe fruit, giving us a perfectly balanced, complex Sauvignon Blanc.

Danza del Sol 2018 Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Temecula Valley, $34

This fierce white wine is playful and full of zest, bursting with notes of kiwi, green pineapple, and a lingering finish of apple skin shavings and key-lime zest.

“Sauvignon Blanc is my favorite estate varietal we produce for both Danza Del Sol Winery and Masia De la Vinya Winery. At nearly 50 years old, our five acres of vines are still producing very high-quality fruit, and are extremely resilient, surviving the pierce disease outbreak of the 90s, and never succumbing to pests or diseases,” says Justin Knight, Winemaker for Danza Del Sol and Masia de la Vinya Winery. “With great natural acidity and early ripening time in the season, the options are endless. I’ve made several different styles including a grassy yet elegant New Zealand style; a tropical, more robust new-world style; and even late harvest dessert wines utilizing our Sauvignon Blanc. The versatility speaks to the Temecula Valley as a whole and the great environment we are lucky to have.”

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Your Toughest Wine Questions Answered

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

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

Grapevines at Sunrise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A. Sharon Cannon, Director of Operations, Akash Winery

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

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

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

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

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

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

A. Jim Hart, Winemaker, Hart Winery

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

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

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

Q. I love rosé. But how is it made?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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