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

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2022

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

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

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

Emily Bloom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Olivia Bue, Winemaker, Robert Renzoni Vineyards

Olivia Bue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patricia O’Brien

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

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

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

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

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

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

You should try it and see what results you get!

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

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

Christina Falik, “Chief Wineaux,” Gershon Bachus Vintners

Christina Falik

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wendy Holder, VP of Marketing, Wilson Creek Winery

Wendy Holder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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December Winery Events

Friday, December 3rd, 2021

Cheers to the New Year!

Danza del Sol Winery
Wine & Waffles Brunch Buffet | December 4, 11:00am-1:00pm | Join us at the Club House where we will have a Waffle Bar, and Mimosa bar. Bottomless mimosas add-on available. General Admission $22 | Wine Club $18. Reservations Required www.danzadelsolwinery.com      

A California Holiday Feast | December 5, 11:00am-2:00pm | Celebrate the holiday with our Ugly Sweater Event & Contest! Southfork Catering will be serving a winter BBQ feast. Live music by The Frank Guy. Wine Club Members: $20 | General Admission: $25. Reservations required www.danzadelsolwinery.com    

Foot Path Winery
Tamale Making Class
| December 11th & 18th, 10am-3pm | Cost $50 | Learn the art of the Tamale. Instructions, participation, and taste testing. You will take home a dozen tamales and written instructions.     

Filo/Phyllo Dough Class | December 12, 10am-3pm | $50. Learning how to handle the filo, how to create Baklava and a savory filo Spanakopita. You will take home recipes, instructions and 1/8 sheet of Baklava.

For more info on both these events and to make reservations, please call 951-764-1849 Chris or Email deanefoote@verizon.net.

Lorimar Vineyards & Winery
Tribute Thursday- Stevie Nicks Illusion | December 2, doors open at 6pm, show starts at 7pm |To make reservations please call 951-694-6699 x109 or visit: https://shop.lorimarwinery.com/res-414053/Stevie-Nicks-Illusion.html  

Annual Santa Dinner | December 5, 5:00pm-8:00pm | Santa will read “Twas the night before Christmas”, cookie decorating kits for kids, tickets include admission and dinner- Adults $35/31.50WC, Children $20/18WCC https://shop.lorimarwinery.com/res-414251/Santa-Dinner.html

We Belong- Pat Benatar Tribute Night | December 16, Doors open at 6pm, show starts at 7pm | To make reservations please call 951-694-6699 x109 or visit: https://shop.lorimarwinery.com/res-414168/We-Belong-Tribute-To-Pat-Benatar-And-Neil-Giraldo.html

Smoke & Vine- An evening of Cigars and Wine | December 17, 7:00pm-9:00pm | $125/$110WC  https://shop.lorimarwinery.com/res-414246/Rhapsody-Of-Reds-Appreciation-Dinner-Nov-17th.html

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa
Winemaker’s Dinner
| December 9, 5:00pm | Guests are in for a delicious treat that has been skillfully crafted by our culinary team and carefully paired with wines. For additional information and to purchase your tickets please use this link: https://store.wineresort.com/winemaker-s-dinner-thursday-december-9th-wd1209?returnurl=%2fevents%2f

Christmas at The Vineyard Rose Restaurant | We will be offering a limited menu featuring both regular menu items as well as Traditional Holiday cuisine. Reservations are recommended: https://www.southcoastwinery.com/dining/christmas
Christmas Eve | Friday, December 24th
Regular Breakfast Menu | 8am – 11:00am
Regular Lunch Menu | 11:30am – 3:00pm
Christmas Dinner Menu | 5:30 – 9:00pm

Christmas Day | Saturday, December 25th
Regular Brunch Menu | 8am – 3:00pm
Christmas Dinner Menu | 5:30 – 9:00pm

New Year’s Eve Concert & Party | December 31, Doors open at 8:00pm | Live concert by Sebastian Sidi 9:00pm-11:00pm, DJ & Dancing 11pm-12:30pam | Starting at $85 per person, VIP Seating available for $125 per person |Includes sparkling wine toast & late-night lite bites | Tickets required and must be purchase in advance on our online store. Information including menu is available online: www.southcoastwinery.com/nye

New Year’s Eve Dinner at The Vineyard Rose Restaurant | December 31, 5:30pm-9:00pm | Special Prix Fixe Menu, $85 per person exclusive of drinks, taxes & gratuity | Reservations required via Open Table | Dinner Menu Available Online: www.southcoastwinery.com/dining/nye

Wilson Creek Winery
New Year’s Eve Party | December 31 7:30pm-12:30am | Let’s ring in 2022 together! Join us for an elegant night as you dance the night away complete with three-course handcrafted plated dinner, open bar, dessert bar and more! Make a reservation at www.WilsonCreekWinery.com 

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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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August Winery Events

Thursday, August 5th, 2021

August kicks off harvest season in wine country. The fruit is hanging heavy on the vines and visitors can enjoy the stunning views as they take in an exciting variety of summer events including movies in the vines, happy hours and plenty of outdoor live music.

Summertime Events

Bel Vino Winery  
Estate Wine Launch Party | August 12th at 6:00pm | Enjoy Food, Music & Wine. Hosted by winemaker George Bursick and owner Mike Janko. | Tickets are $86. Wine club members receive 10% off. Tickets must be purchased by July 29th. Please email macey@belvinowinery.com.

Elton John Tribute Concert | August 6th at 6:00pm
Madonna Tribute Concert | August 27th at 6:00pm
Tickets may be purchase through at Heyday.com. Ages 16+ only.

Callaway Vineyard & Winery
Save-the-Date! September 11th – Sip, Stomp & Play Annual Grape Stomp and Harvest Festival. Tickets: $125.00 General Public, $112.50 Wine Club Members, $90.00 Kids ages 4-11. Ticket includes admission to the event, one glass of Callaway wine, dinner, wine specials and grape stomping. Purchase tickets at our San Diego – Gaslamp and Temecula tasting rooms or online at www.callawaywinery.com

Danza del Sol Winery
Paint Your Pet Party 3:00pm | August 1 |Tickets purchased through Shelley Garth @ www.paintyourpetpartyie.com or call 951-288-7536. Member: $50 | Non-member: $55

Foot Path Winery
Food Wine and Music | August 21st  6:30 – 9:00pm | $35 wine club $40 non-wine club. Please call the winery for reservations at 951-265-9951.

Longshadow Ranch Winery
Matchbox Twenty Too Tribute concert at sunset!  August 6th |$10 pre-sale online, $15 ticket at the door, $175 VIP table for up to ten. Purchase online at Longshadowranchwinery.com

Monte De Oro Winery
70’s Themed Disco Wine Bingo on the Patio | August 7th Doors open 6:30pm. Bingo starts 7:00pm | Price $40.00 per person – includes 7 Bingo Games, 1 glass of wine and 3 raffle tickets. Wine prizes over $1,200 in retail value. Purchase online at www.montedeoro.com

Signature Food & Wine Pairing Lunch |August 8 – 11:30am | 2-Hour lunch, 4-course wine pairing lunch. Reservations required – $65.00 per person. Please visit www.montedeoro.com

Oak Mountain Winery
Cause Fur Paws Fundraiser | August 21st 6:00 – 9:00pm | Food, wine, blind auctions, best dressed dog prizes and more. | $15 donation for admittance include 1 glass of wine or beer.

Peltzer Family Cellars
Don’t miss Nashville Nights down on the Farm on August 21st from 4-10pm featuring three acts! Tickets range from $30 – $100 and can be purchased at peltzerwinery.com.

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa
Join us for live Jazz performances on August 1st (Brian Simpson, Steve Oliver & Will Donato) and August 15th (Michael Paulo, Adam Hawley & Darryl Williams) | Shows begin at 7:00pm |Tickets available now starting at $65. https://www.southcoastwinery.com/concerts/jazz-concert-series

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

Thursday, August 5th, 2021

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

Harvest Season

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

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

South Coast Winery

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

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

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

Danza del Sol Winery

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

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

For more information, click HERE.

Doffo Winery

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

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

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

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

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

Callaway Winery

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

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

For more information and tickets, click HERE.

Want More?

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

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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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Temecula Valley’s Unsung Heroes ~ A Tribute to Those Working Behind the Scenes

Thursday, July 23rd, 2020

Last month we did a feature on the rockstar tasting room staff of Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country. It was such a hit that we decided this month to focus on another group of movers and shakers of Temecula Valley – the “Unsung Heroes” who are behind the scenes ensuring that the region runs smoothly on all fronts. These Wine Country warriors are the ones our visitors don’t often get to meet; the ones who make the actual functioning of our wineries possible. While sometimes it’s the winemakers and winery owners who get all the glory, Wine Country wouldn’t exist without the folks who work tirelessly every day to keep the lights on and create memorable experiences for our visitors.

Let’s meet a few:

Brenda Ruocco

Brenda Ruocco, Director, Wholesale Operations for South Cost Winery

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Brenda has been in Temecula for the last 20 years with her husband and her “Animal family of dogs and horses.” Anyone who has purchased a bottle of South Coast wine from a local wine shop or grocery store has Brenda to thank for it being on the shelf.

TVWA: What does a typical day look like on the job?

BR: A typical day in wholesale includes meeting with domestic and export wholesale buyers; conducting wine tastings; making sales calls to box and liquor stores and restaurants; checking inventory; writing orders; working closely with the winemaking team; managing our warehouse and supervising our wholesale team of eight.

TVWA: Do you drink wine? If yes – any favorites?

BR: Yes, I love wine! Of course I’m partial to ours. Currently, I’m enjoying our 2019 South Coast Pinot Grigio, 2015 Wild Horse Peak Merlot and Vineyard Rose Sparkling.

TVWA: You have been in the Valley for a long time. Can you share any memorable Wine Country moments? Can you share your best, funniest or most memorable Wine Country moments?

BR: The best Wine Country moment was receiving South Coast’s California State Winery of the Year award with our winemaking team – ALL four times! My most memorable moment was opening South Coast Winery and being part of the original team. It was so exciting to watch the construction team build our winery. Also memorable was helping to create the “Rock The Pink” brand to support Cancer Awareness.

TVWA: Wow. You could probably write a book about Temecula Valley Wine Country! Speaking of books, do you have any hobbies outside of the winery?

BR: I love to travel, marathon running, cooking/wine pairing, reading and gardening.

TVWA: What makes Temecula Valley so special to you?

BR: I recall being mesmerized by the valley on my first visit in 1990. I was on a business trip from Washington, DC, and had an extra day after a meeting in Carlsbad. The hotel I was staying at recommended a trip to Temecula Wine Country. I drove through early in the morning and saw a handful of wineries and hot air balloons overhead and knew I wanted to live here. Five years later after meeting my husband, we rearranged our lives to move to Temecula. We are both Italian and see so many comparisons to Italy. I’m so proud to represent this region and the opportunity to educate people about our terroir and beautiful valley.    

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

Patricia O’Brien

This Southern California native has been in Temecula Valley for 17 years. She is married to her best friend, Patrick, and together they have raised three kids: Mikayla age 25, Sean Patrick age 17 and Peyton age 9.  “I love my job,” she says. “But I have to say being a parent happens to be the best gig ever!”

TVWA: What does a typical day look like on the job? 

PO: My workday usually starts at 7:30 am with a review of sales reports from the previous day, answering emails and tackling my infamous to-do list.  You see, I’m a firm believer in setting a daily tasks list.  I never put more than 6 things on my to-do list, so I don’t set myself up for failure.  My days usually consist of analyzing traffic, sales, and wine club attrition and sign up reports, evaluating wine projections, label approvals, reviewing and overseeing monthly social media and marketing plan, as well as meetings with the Controller, Winemaker, tasting room and wine club managers.  

TVWA: Whew! We are exhausted just thinking about your day! You must like to kick-back at the end of the day. Do you drink wine? If yes – any favorites?

PO: Do I drink wine?! I’m passionate about wine. I love the process of growing grapes, harvesting grapes, and the art of turning those grapes into wine. I love wine so much, I enrolled in the WSET Level II class in Spring 2019 and passed the exam.  My favorite varietal is Old Vine Zinfandel but lately I’ve been enjoying Pinot Noir and dry rosé.

TVWA: Do you have a best, funniest or most memorable Wine Country Moment?

PO: I’ve been working in Temecula Valley Wine Country for 13 years. I have so many best, funny and memorable moments.  One of the best and funniest moments, is my initial interview with founder of Danza del Sol Winery, Bob Olson, almost 11 years ago.  I answered an ad for a job, and we met for breakfast at South Coast. It was the most casual interview I’ve ever had in my life. I basically ate breakfast with a complete stranger. When the interview ended, I called my husband and said, “That was the most chill interview I’ve ever had!” and by the time I made it home, Bob called to offer me the job. And the rest, as they say, is history! 

TVWA: If only all job interviews went like that! Got any hobbies outside of the winery?

PO: I’m an uber proud soccer Mom, (Go Legends FC Temecula Valley) who is obsessed with the art of charcuterie, a ferocious reader, and I love spending time with my family and friends.  

TVWA: What makes Temecula Valley so special to you?

PO: What makes Temecula Valley so special to me is that although Temecula Valley is a vacation destination, with farm-to-table restaurants, craft breweries, hotels, golf courses, and over 40 wineries, which I am proud to be a part of, it has also been a great place to raise our children and given us the opportunity to make friendships that will last forever.

Jana Prais, Sales Director, Maurice Car’rie Winery

Originally from La Mirada, California, Jana has been in Temecula for 32 years! It’s amazing that she has any time for work in Wine Country, given she also has four grown children, another starting her senior year at Temecula Valley High School, two dogs, one cat, seven chickens and seven grandkids!

TVWA: What does a typical day look like on the job? 

JP: No two days are the same for me and I love that part of the job. I usually start the day calling on stores and hand selling wine. I’ve been blessed to meet many wonderful people working in outside sales.

TVWA: We’re guessing you like to enjoy the occasional glass of wine, juggling a family of that size! Any favorites?

JP: Maurice Car’rie Sauvignon Blanc is my go-to wine. Although, our new Ultimate red wines are very impressive – the 2018 Tempranillo might be my favorite so far.

TVWA: You must have collected some memories during your 37 years in Temecula Valley. Do any stand out to you?

JP: Some of my fondest memories took place in the summertime at Cilurzo Winery.
Audrey would invite all 12 wineries to a pool party at her and Vince’s home. Everyone brought a dish and wine. She made the best cookies that paired perfectly with Cilurzo Petite Sirah. I think that kind of hospitality and those friendships are still happening today in Wine Country.

TVWA: Got any hobbies outside of the winery?

JP: I love meeting up with my wine country friends and enjoying a glass of wine!

TVWA: Hopefully you count us among those friends! What makes Temecula Valley so special to you?

JP: I’ve seen Temecula grow beyond what I could have imagined, but we still have that hometown feel and a great community. I’m proud to be part of Temecula and wine country. 

Dollie Pavlinch, Wine Society Volunteer Coordinator for Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association

Dollie Pavlinch

With the number events and fundraising efforts the TVWA is responsible for each year, it’s no wonder Dollie is a hero of Wine Country. Pouring wines & staffing events is hard work! Originally from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania by way of Arcadia, California, Dollie has spent the last 20 years in Temecula with her husband, Don, and their “furry dog baby, Miss Molly.”

TVWA: What would you say is your earliest or fondest memory of Wine Country?

DP: You know, our first memory of Wine Country was stopping by Wilson Creek. At the time, it was a tiny bar with Rosie and Jerry and us, talking about moving here from the same area. Times have certainly changed.

TVWA: Those were the days! Got any hobbies outside of work?

DP: Since retirement from ATT, I enjoy every day… and, yes, I enjoy drinking Temecula wines! I love to sit on our patio with a glass of wine, overlooking the wineries. It is an enjoyment Don and I look forward to

TVWA: We love to do that too! Do you have any favorite wines?

DP: Oh dear… I love them all! Especially the bubbly…

TVWA: What Makes Temecula Valley so special to you?

DP: I love the people in Temecula. I especially love the Wine Country atmosphere. I also enjoy our wines. We have exceptional winemakers, each of whom take pride in their product!

Ted Dorr, UPS Driver

Tedd Dorr & Mattie

Everyone who is anyone out in Wine Country has likely had the good fortune of having Ted show up at their door with package deliveries or for pick-up. He has been on his current UPS route in Wine Country for over 25 years, making him a true fixture of the region. He has been married to his wife Debi for 31 years – the same amount of time he has been a UPS driver – and has two kids, Travis and Lauren, age 29 and 26, as well as a blonde lab named Bailey.

TVWA: What does a typical day look like on the job? 

TD: A typical day usually starts at 7 AM. I bring a trailer out with me to use for pick-ups in the afternoon, depending on who’s heavy on pick-ups. I try to accommodate to the wineries’ needs. If they need an early delivery or a later pick-up, I work around them.

TVWA: Do you drink wine? If yes – any favorites?

TD: I enjoy drinking wine. It’s funny. Years ago, when I first started the route, I wasn’t much of a wine drinker. But I learned to appreciate it through the years. Love the reds, but I’ll drink the whites also.

TVWA: You’ve probably seen it all out in Wine Country! Got any memories to share?

TD: I have seen the Valley grow from just a handful of wineries, to present time and it’s amazing to see how it’s grown. The people in wine country are amazing. They have become like family. I really enjoy going to work and seeing everyone. 

TVWA: What do you like to do when you’re not traveling all over Wine Country for UPS?

TD: My hobbies are hanging out with my wife and family. I enjoy the beach. It’s my place to just get away and ride some waves. 

TVWA: What Makes Temecula Valley so special to you?

TD: I’ve been truly blessed to be a part of Wine Country all these years. The people are amazing. To be able share the growth in the valley and their friendships has been so rewarding. 

Juan Vazquez Gutierrez, Cellar Foreman, South Coast Winery

Juan Vazquez Gutierrez

Juan came to Temecula Valley all the way from Culiacá, in Sinaloa, Mexico a whopping 34 years ago! He is part of the dream team that has led South Coast Winery to receive the California State Winery of the Year title an unprecedented four times.

TVWA: What does a typical day look like on the job? 

JVG: It ranges from what the day brings. As of right now we have been busy with our bottling season and it is my job to ensure that everything runs smoothly from the tank to the bottle!

TVWA: Tell us about life outside the winery. Got family? Kids? Pets?

JVG: I have a 25 year-old son, and a 23-year old daughter. I have been married to my wife Blanca for 26 years this past April!

TVWA: Wow. You must drink a lot of wine then (we hear it is the key to a happy marriage!). Any favorites?

JVG: Yes I drink wine! I enjoy a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Syrah, or some type of dessert wine, which is my wife’s favorite.

TVWA: We’re guessing you’ve collected your share of memories over the past 34 years in Temecula Valley. Can you share any?

JVG: There was a time when I was unloading a Cherokee truck while working at Callaway. There was a truck driver who began to pull away from the location, but the pump was still connected to the truck! It’s funny now in hindsight, but at the time it was really scary. So now every time I see a Cherokee truck, I always remember that day!

TVWA: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working (or dodging trucks still connected to pumps)?

JVG: I love to go fishing with my family, which can be here locally at Lake Skinner, or at times going to fish off the Oceanside pier. I also love to play basketball with my son. Go Lakers!

TVWA: What Makes Temecula Valley so special to you?

JVW: Temecula Valley was the first place I came to after having left my hometown in Mexico. So, to me Temecula was my first home in America and I am grateful to have learned new things here. And, I’m proud to be a part of the South Coast wine-making team!

Huge thanks to all of the extraordinary people who work tirelessly every day to keep our region alive and well, especially those who contributed to this piece. Temecula Valley has been able to grow into the ultimate quality wine and hospitality destination because of you.

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RAMEN WITH ASPARAGUS, SHIITAKE, AND EDAMAME

Thursday, July 23rd, 2020

Ramen with Asparagus

Everybody loves ramen. The noodles are slippery and satisfying, the broth nourishing, and it’s okay to slurp. Use this recipe as a template for your own inspirations. When asparagus is not in season, substitute spinach or mustard greens. If you can’t find edamame (soybeans), try green peas. A quivering six-minute egg continues to cook in the hot broth and adds richness. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Gewürztraminer or Riesling.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 3 1⁄2 cups (875 ml) rich chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1⁄2 cup (5 g) dried bonito flakes
  • 1 large egg
  • 1⁄2 pound (250 g) fresh ramen noodles
  • 2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
  • 4 fresh shiitake mushrooms, about 1 1⁄2 oz (45 g), stems removed, then sliced
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 1⁄2 cup (70 g) fresh or frozen shelled edamame
  • 2⁄3 cup (70 g) diagonally sliced asparagus tips, in slices 1⁄4 inch (6 mm) thick
  • 1⁄4 cup (65 g) white miso
  • 1⁄4 cup (30 g) minced green onion, white and pale green part only
  • Shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven-spice blend), for garnish

Directions:

Bring the broth to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and add the bonito flakes, sprinkling them on the surface. Let them steep for 3 to 4 minutes, then strain through cheesecloth and return the strained broth to the saucepan.

Put enough water in a small saucepan to cover the egg generously but do not add the egg yet. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer so you can add the egg without jostling it. While the water is heating, prepare a bowl of ice water. With a large spoon, lower the egg into the simmering water, working carefully so it does not crack. Adjust the heat so the egg cooks at a gentle simmer. Cook the egg for 6 minutes exactly. Transfer the egg to the ice water with a slotted spoon. When cool, lift it out of the water and peel.

Bring a large pot of unsalted water to a boil over high heat. Add the ramen noodles and stir well to keep the noodles from clumping. Cook, stirring often, until the noodles are al dente (the timing will depend on their freshness). With tongs, lift the noodles out of the pot and into a sieve or colander. Rinse with cool water and shake well to remove any excess water. Transfer to a bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil to prevent clumping.

Fill two large soup bowls with hot water from the ramen pot to warm them.

Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a small nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and set aside.

Return the broth to medium heat and bring to a simmer. Add the edamame and simmer gently until they are almost tender, 3 to 5 minutes. (You can add frozen edamame without thawing.) Add the asparagus and cook for 1 minute. Put the miso in a small bowl and whisk in enough of the hot broth to make a smooth, pourable mixture. Stir the thinned miso into the broth. Salt to taste.

Drain the hot water from the soup bowls. Divide the noodles and mushrooms between the bowls. Top with the steaming-hot broth, dividing it evenly. Halve the boiled egg and nestle one half in each bowl. Garnish generously with the green onions and shichimi togarashi and serve.

Suggested Pairings:

Bel Vino Winery ~ NV Riesling – Extremely aromatic with intense fruity aromas of nectarine, ripe apricot and pink lady apples.

Danza del Sol Winery ~ 2017 Gewurztraminer – Green Guava, floral, and gingerbread spice.

Mount Palomar Winery ~ NV Riesling – The taste is full with apricot, peach, tangerine, lychee, star fruit and guava. 

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa ~ 2016 Dry Gewurztraminer – Exotic floral scents of roses, citrus, lychee fruit and bubble gum are balanced against the crisp acidity.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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Our Top Temecula Valley Wine Picks for Summer

Thursday, July 2nd, 2020

Summer Sippin’

There’s something about Summertime sipping that just feels right. Maybe it’s the sensation of a breeze cooling our neck as the sun warms our face while enjoying a crisp glass of Pinot Grigio on our patio; maybe it’s the sun staying out just that little bit longer; or maybe it’s the amazing food that comes out during the warmer months – the smell of the grill, the sweet juices of peaches and watermelons running down our chins, fresh seafood, burgers, corn on the cob… Whatever it is, there’s just nothing like a great mid-summer glass of wine. But what to sip?

Here are some of our favorite go-to wines for the Summer months:

Sparkling

Not only does bubbly pair perfectly with just about any type of cuisine, it is a wonderful treat no matter the occasion. From milestone celebrations to simply feeling good on a Tuesday, it’s the ultimate refresher after a long day (or at the beginning of one – hello, brunch!).

Pair with: Literally anything. But bubbles and salty, fatty, fried, or crispy food is a match made in heaven. Think potato chips, calamari, tempura shrimp, truffled popcorn, cured meats and cheeses… we could go on… and on…

Some wines to try:

Thornton Winery NV Brut

Carter Estate Winery 2015 Blanc de Noir

Oak Mountain Winery NV Pinotage Sparkling

Leoness Cellars NV Brut

Crisp, Unoaked White

We all love a rich, buttery Chardonnay, but hot weather calls for something a bit more quaffable. Instead of those weightier whites like Viognier and Chardonnay, opt for something light and bright. Classic Italian and Spanish grapes like Arneis, Vermentino, Pinot Grigio, Albariño, and Verdelho are juicy and fresh, and act like a refreshing squeeze of lemon on your favorite Summer dishes.

Pair with: Seafood dishes prepared in a variety of styles, summer salads, and creamy pasta dishes.

Some wines to try:

Hart Winery 2019 Albariño

South Coast Winery 2019 Verdelho

Cougar Winery 2019 Estate Falanghina

Danza del Sol 2018 Vermentino

Rosé

There’s a reason “rosé all day” isn’t just a social media hashtag, it’s also a way of life: You can literally drink the stuff all day, every day. Rosé is a fantastic Summer sipper because it comes in so many different styles and hues, making it the whole package when it comes to food-friendly wine pairings. From pale pink and dripping with notes of watermelon and lime, to fuller-bodied and bursting with berry fruit, there’s a style to suit every palate, culinary creation, and occasion. And, it’s also pretty darn good on its own – unless you count your feet in the pool, a lazy swing in a hammock, or a sunset barbecue as part of your pairing.

Some wines to try:

Ponte Winery 2019 Pas Doux

Robert Renzoni Vineyards 2019 Lyric Rose

Doffo Winery 2019 Rosario

Akash Winery 2019 Parlez Vous Rosé

Light Red

Still craving that inky red wine, even in 100-degree weather? While Temecula Valley can be known for rich, full-bodied, luxurious wines, the region also produces quite a few lighter-bodied, fruity red wines, which are absolutely stunning on a warm summer day. Serve them with a slight chill to bring out the bright berry fruit. We promise you’ll thank us for the suggestion.

Pair with: Simple grilled meats and kabobs, tomato-based pastas, pizza

Some wines to try:

Fazeli Cellars 2015 Phel Phel

Baily Winery 2016 Cabernet Franc

Wiens Family Cellars 2018 Pinot Noir

Europa Village Bolero Cellars 2016 Garnacha

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