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

Tuesday, September 1st, 2020

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

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

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

Nick & Cindy Palumbo
Owners, Palumbo Winery

Palumbo Vineyard & Winery

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

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

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

Steve Andrews
Owner, Oak Mountain Winery

Oak Mountain Winery

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

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

Somerset Winery

Kurt Tiedt
President, Somerset Winery

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

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

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

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

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

Jim Hart
Winemaker, Hart Winery

Hart Winery

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

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

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

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

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

Akash Patel
Owner, Akash Winery

Akash Winery & Vineyards

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

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

Happy Harvest!

Photo by Cindy Yamanaka, The Press Enterprise/SGNC

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November Winery Events in Temecula Valley Wine Country

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

The 22nd Annual Harvest Celebration is this weekendNovember 3 & 4!

For all the details and to buy tickets, click here!  This is the region’s last passport event until March 2013…

Harvest Ticket Prices:

  • $99 Weekend – Saturday & Sunday, 10am-4:30pm
  • $79 Sunday only
  • $69 Sunday only – local resident
  • $59 Designated driver – food only

 

November Winery Events

Baily Vineyard & Winery

Carol’s Saturday Knights

Live Bands every Saturday night from 5-8pm.  Appetizers, drinks and dinner available.

  • Saturday, November 3: Naomisax-Jazz/Pop/Blues/Latin/Funk/Swing
  • Saturday, November 10: Mark Johnson Trio-Blues/ Rock
  • Saturday November 17: Paradygm Shift-Rock/Progressive Rock
  • Saturday November 24: The Hats-The Hats know how to swing!

 

Dog Day Sundays

Bring your pooch to wine country.  Every Sunday live music, doggie menu, doggie treats.  Sundays 11:30 to 3:30pm.

Call 951-676-WINE (9463) for more information.

 

Bel Vino Winery
Complimentary Live Music

Sundays in November; 12p-4p

 

Cougar Vineyard & Winery

“Black Friday”
Friday, November 23; 11:00a-2:30p
Buy 2 bottles of any red wine and receive the 3rd red (of equal or lesser value) at 50% off
Buy 2 bottles of any white wine and receive the 3rd white (of equal or lesser value) for 1 cent.
(Offer is valid at Winery only and cannot be combined with any other discount, including wine club).

Temecula Turkey Trot
Saturday, November 24
8:30a
Run or walk off your turkey the Saturday after Thanksgiving with this 5k or 10k.  After the event, participants over 21 can enjoy FREE wine tasting at Cougar Vineyard & Winery and discounted tastings at neighboring wineries.  For more information and to sign up, click here

 

Danza del Sol Winery

28th Annual Temecula Valley Women’s Club Holiday Home Tour

November 17 & 18

Danza del Sol Winery is pleased to announce that The Club House @ Danza has been selected to participate in the 28th Annual Temecula Valley Women’s Club Holiday Home Tour.  It is the first time a winery has been asked to participate in this Temecula holiday tradition.  The event is open to the public to visit all five of the homes that will be decorated.  Tickets are available for purchase here.

 

Doffo Winery

Saturday, November 17

Come meet Al Camano, winner of the 2012 SCCA Touring Regional Championship.  His winning car, a Chevrolet Corvette C6T1, will be on display for all to see and photograph.  Italian Wedding soup will be offered.  Doffo Winery is the official sponsor of this racing team.

 

Europa Village

“Le Semaine du Gout” Musical Wine Dinner
Thursday, November 15; 6:30p-9:00p
Gourmet 4-course French dinner prepared by Europa’s own award-winning Executive Chef Dean Thomas.  Each course paired with Europa Village C’est La Vie wines.  Top it off with performances by Europa’s own singing waiters.

Full list of November events:

Saturday

3-Nov-12

Saturday Entertainment – Geoff Ryle 1pm-4pm -FREE admission
Sunday

4-Nov-12

Sunday Entertainment – Michael Sierras 1pm-4pm – FREE admission
Wednesday

7-Nov-12

Monti – Art Class – 760-967-7658 1pm-4pm – Call 760-967-9658 for reservations
Friday

9-Nov-12

Friday Night Entertainment – Alaina Blair 6:30pm-9:30pm – FREE admission
Thursday

15-Nov-12

Paint & Palate 6pm-9pm – $35 – Call 760-500-0383 for reservations
Thursday

15-Nov-12

Musical Wine Dinner – France 6:30pm-9:00pm – $79 per person (plus service charge & tax) – call 951-216-3380 for more information
Friday

16-Nov-12

Friday Night Entertainment – Mrs. Jones’ Revenge 6:30pm-9:30pm – FREE admission
Friday

23-Nov-12

Antidote to Black Friday – Wine & Shopping event 6pm-8pm – FREE admission – call 951-216-3380 for more information
Wednesday

28-Nov-12

Monti – Art Class – 760-967-7658 1pm-4pm – Call 760-967-9658 for reservations

To RSVP or for more information, please call 951-506-1818 or e-mail events@europavillage.com

 

Leoness Cellars

Winemaker Dinner

Sunday, Nov 17; 6:00-9:30pm.  Tickets are $99+ tax.

Now that harvest is winding down our winemaker, Tim Kramer, would like to extend a personal invitation for you to join us for our Annual Winemaker Dinner. This is your chance to meet and interact with our winemaker, enologist, and the owners of Leoness. Enjoy live music, delicious food, and excellent wines.

Wine Club Members: $89 per person (for up to two guests) / General Guests: $99 per person

Make reservations today 951-302-7601 ext 150.

Click here for more information.


Longshadow Ranch Vineyard & Winery

Complimentary sleigh bell carriage rides through the vines

November 18th – thru Dec 23rd.  Sundays only from 2-4pm.  First come, first served; gratuity is appreciated.

Complimentary live music

For more information, please call (951) 587-6221.

 

Lorimar Winery

  • Mulled Wine willl be available for purchase by the glass at both the Wine Country and Old Town locations. Every Friday-Sunday starting Nov 2 through Christmas.
  • Exclusive Wine Club Only Preview Week on Merchandise and Wine Specials – Mon, Nov 19-Wed Nov 21
  • Black Friday Holiday Shopping Event – Stock up for the holidays with our wine and merchandise sales – sparkling wine, personal shoppers, music, light appetizers – Fri, Nov 23 from 6pm-9pm
  • Lorimar’s Grand Lighting Ceremony Fri, Nov 30 – Live Music 5-8pm: Witness wine country’s most beautiful lighting ceremony.  At 8pm, to the sounds of Christmas Carolers and the smell of spiced mulled wine, Lorimar will illuminate its wine country estate and the 6 themed Christmas trees inside.

 

Monte De Oro Winery

Wine’d Down Fridays – Complimentary Live Music
5:00p-8:30p every Friday

Friday, November 2 – Master Splinters & the Shredders

Friday, November 9 – David & Olivia

Friday, November 16 – Tim Moyer

Friday, November 23 – PLOW

Friday, November 30 – Fiore & the Bromance

 

Mount Palomar

Live Music Fridays
6:00p-9:00p every Friday throughout the Fall.

Friday, November 2nd – Big Truth – Classic Rock/80’s/Today

Friday, November 9th  – Finite Wisdom – Dance and Classic Rock

Friday, November 16th – Finite Wisdom – Dance and Classic Rock

Friday, November 23rd – TBD – Lifetime Rocker – Classic Rock

Friday, November 30th – Gino and the Lone Gunman – Rockabilly

 

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa

November 22Gourmet Thanksgiving Feast….  The Master Chefs and Winemakers of South Coast Winery Resort & Spa are ready to treat you and your entire family to a special gourmet feast this Thanksgiving Day, featuring unique presentations of today’s traditional fare. Specially priced menus are sure to make you stop and give thanks for this special day. Reserve early for preferred seating.  866-994-6379 X 7237 or visit us online at WineResort.com. Reservations required.

November 25Tree Lighting… Let your inner child come out to play; and while you’re at it, bring your entire family.  Come enjoy our popular South Coast Winery Winter Fun in our beautiful Southern California Wine Country sun.  Meet us in the Courtyard at 6 PM as holiday music fills the air and our popular holiday lights get turned on officially to delight and dazzle, making your Season merry and bright!   866-994-6379 X7210 or visit us online at WineResort.com.

November 29Deck the Halls Spa Event…  Be one of the first to enter into the Holiday spirit.  The GrapeSeed Spa at South Coast Winery Resort invites you to their elegant Deck The Halls Event from 6.30pm to 9.00pm.   Offering a vendors showcase, fantastic spa prizes and product giveaways, and complimentary wine whilst shopping at this social extravaganza.  Also be one of the first to sign up for some incredible spa package promotions that can only be enjoyed by attending this event and can be redeemed during the holiday season.  This event is open to Spa Club and Wine Club members only.  RSVP early to avoid disappointment.  866-994-6379 X7210 or visit us online at WineResort.com.

 

Thornton Winery

Art of Winetasting Workshop
Saturday, November 10th, 5:30p – 6:30p

Red Wine & Chocolate

Inspired by the small family run restaurants in the wine country in Italy, this wine and chocolate class is truly amazing!  You will be guided through the tasting and learn the in’s and out’s of chocolate and wine pairing.

$35 per person / $ 31.50 wine club members
For reservations please call  (951) 699-0099

 

Cafe Champagne Thanksgiving Buffet
Thursday, November 22nd, 12p- 5p

An elegant buffet of all your favorite Thanksgiving favorites included Champagne & Mimosa cocktails.

$65 plus tax & tip / $19.95 – Children/ Under 5 FREE
For reservations please call  (951) 699-0099

 

Harvest Cooking Class
Saturday, November 17th, 2:30p

Learn (while you taste) how to make 5 spectacular fall dishes: Roasted Cauliflower & Gruyere Cheese Soup; Butternut Squash Gnocchi; Mustard Tyme Glazed Slamon; Carmalized Sprouts; Chocolate Wine Pached Pear

$70 Per Person Inclusive. For reservations please call  (951) 699-0099

 

November “Care” Special
November 1st-Dec 25th

Bring 3 cans of non perishable items to the gift shop and and receive a two for one tasting.
For reservations please call  (951) 699-0099

 

 

 

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Harvest Season in Temecula Valley

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

All over California, winegrowers are picking, racking, and punching down – it’s smack dab in the middle of Harvest Season!

Harvest – or “Crush” as it’s often called in the New World – usually falls between August and October.  Specific times of picking are determined primarily by ripeness of the grape as measured by sugar, acid, and tannin levels, which varies with each winemaker depending on the style of wine they wish to produce.  The weather can also shape the timetable of harvesting with the threat of heat, rain, hail, and frost which can damage the grapes.  Did you know that most harvesting takes place at night?  The grapes need to be cool at the time of picking, so farm crews all over Temecula Valley set up their floodlights and mechanical pickers in the evening and pick until dawn.

You may have heard a particularly odd wine term called “punching down the cap.”  When grapes or grape bits are left in a fermentation vessel, as in red wine making, all the solids—grape skins, seeds, stems, pulp—rise to the surface. This mass of solid matter is called a “cap,” and winemakers want to integrate the cap back into the wine. Think of the cap like a tea bag—if it’s just sitting there floating on top, you’re not going to get the color or flavor that you would if you dunk it in to steep. (Also, leaving the cap floating on top runs the risk of bacterial growth.)

There are two main ways to deal with the cap: pump-overs and punch-downs. Pump-overs are what they sound like: the fermenting juice is circulated, or pumped, over the cap. This doesn’t break up the cap so much as it helps keep it submerged. A punch-down is when a device (think of a big potato-masher) pushes the cap down, breaks it up and submerges it again.

The how (and how often) of dealing with the cap depends on a winemaker’s style. The more aggressive one is with breaking up the cap, the more a wine will be extracted, dark and tannic.  Just an FYI, if a winemaker invites you to help with a punch-down, you’re in for a workout! It takes an extraordinary amount of physical effort to punch down that cap. On Best Survival Products you will find all the preparedness gear you need to be ready in case of emergency. Be equipped to ensure your safety with our self-defense products and to face natural disaters with our survival supplies and kits. Rotorm – Survival Products Shop Online – That said, getting the best survival bow may be the difference between merely surviving or thriving even under harsh conditions. Several brands purport to offer the perfect survival bow but this only makes it harder for you. However, we are here to help you discover some of the top bows on the market.

 Temecula Valley – Images from Harvest 2011:

 

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