In the third installment of our new blog series “Big Dreamers,” we interview veteran wine experts and longtime partners Mike Rennie and Gary Winder, owners of Leoness Cellars on De Portola Road in Temecula Valley. When Mike and Gary founded their winery in 2003, they chose the name Leoness Cellars, which means “village of dreams” in Gaelic.
Farming citrus and avocados in the region as far back as the 1970’s, Gary teamed with up with fellow farmer and friend Mike to begin their viticulture journey in 1990. They opened the first version of the tasting room in 2003 and the upgraded edition in 2006. Now one of the most beloved and picturesque wineries in Temecula Valley, Leoness focuses on top quality wines, sustainable practices in the vineyards and first-class service in their tasting room and restaurant.
Check in every month where we feature a new interview with our Temecula Valley winemakers and winery owners. You’ll learn where they’ve come from before settling in Temecula, CA – and what keeps them passionate about the sometimes not-so-glamorous art (and science) of making good wine in California.
Interview with Winery Owner and Winemaker Mike Rennie, Leoness Cellars
1. What were you doing before owning and operating your winery?
Gary Winder and I have been farming in Temecula for many years. We farm not only wine grapes but citrus and avocados. This harvest will be Gary’s 64th.
2. What inspired you to want to buy a winery and what were the circumstances around choosing Temecula Valley, CA?
3. What were your expectations of the winemaker lifestyle at the beginning?
4. People might think winemaking is glamorous. Would you like to set them straight?
5. What is your least favorite thing about running a winery? What is your most favorite – the reason you get up in the morning?