Spending the day in Temecula Valley’s Wine Country……well, we can’t think of a better gift for Mom this Mother’s Day! We’ve got you covered with brunches and lunches and everything in between. Here’s a list of wineries celebrating all of the Mom’s out there:
Altisima Winery Mother’s Day Luxury Picnic | May 7 & 8 | Reservations available at 11:00am and 2:00pm | Partnering with Temecula Picnic Co. for a luxury picnic experience on Mother’s Day weekend | Tickets are $125++ per person or $110++ per person for members | Two special dessert releases with wine pairing for Mother’s Day! New Menu released at the restaurant for the week as well. Additional Information on our website and e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to book your picnic.
Avensole Winery Celebrate Mom | May 8 | Celebrate Mom with our delicious Chef’s Mother’s Day special menu 11am-5pm at the Avensole Winery Restaurant https://www.avensolewinery.com/restaurant/ or call us at (951) 252-2003 x301. Reservations are recommended for this special date sells out early every year! Walk-ins are also always welcome!
Callaway Vineyard & Winery Special Mother’s Day Brunch at Meritage | May 8 from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm | Live music on our courtyard from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm featuring local musician Shea Givens. Reservations are highly recommended. Reservations: exploretock.com/callawaywinery
Danza del Sol Winery Mother’s Day Run for the Rose | May 7 | Doors open at 1PM | Wine Club: $12; General: $15 | Celebrate Mother’s Day with us with a Kentucky Derby themed party! | Ticket includes Sparkling greeting. Kentucky Derby hat competition, Charcuterie by V&G Charcuterie, New Rosé Releases, Photo ops & Local vendor shopping | Reservations required RSVP online or with Nathalie email@example.com or https://www.danzadelsolwinery.com/res-405355/Mothers-Day-Run-For-The-Rose.html
Europa Village Wineries & Resort Mother’s Day Brunch at Bolero | May 8 | 10:00am – 3:00pm | What mom really wants is what we all want: exquisite food, to spend quality time with loved ones, and the ability to come home to a clean kitchen afterward. Treat mom to an unforgettable Mother’s Day Brunch at Bolero Restaurante featuring a create your own crepes station, chilled seafood bar, carving station, and classic Spanish cuisine. Price: $89 adult $44 children | For reservations, please call us at 951.414.3802.
Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea Party on the Piazza at Vienza | May 8 | 12:00pm – 3:00pm | Treat mom to an extra special day with our Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea party. Delight in delicious baked goods, tea sandwiches, sweet treats, bubbly, and live music from Harpist, Annette Wiles. General Admission: $85 Members: $76.50 Learn more at https://www.europavillage.com/spring-happenings
Falkner Winery Mother’s Day Champagne Brunch at Pinnacle | May 8 | 10:00am-3:00pm | Cost is $89.95/person (tax and gratuity not included) Wine Club $79.95/person plus tax and gratuity Children (3-10) $35.50/child++(Wine Club $30.95/child ++); Under 3 is free | Entertainment provided, call for Reservations at 951-676-8231 Ext. 4.
Frangipani Winery Mother’s Day 3-course seated Dinner & Theater Show | May 8 |Doors open 6:30pm, show starts at 7:00pm | $75 per person plus tax, presented by Triple Threat Productions featuring songs from the award-winning musical Mamma Mia! | Purchase tickets by May 4 at www.Frangipanievents.com
Lorimar Vineyards & Winery Mother’s Day Brunch | May 8th | We are offering two seating at 11:00am & 2:00pm | $100 regular tickets /$90WC ($20 child/ $18WC child) | To reserve please visit https://shop.lorimarwinery.com/res-415096/Mothers-Day-Brunch.html
Monte de Oro Winery Mother’s Day Brunch | May 8 | 4 seating’s offered at 10:00am, 10:30am, 1:00pm, and 1:30pm | For reservations please visit https://shop.montedeoro.com/res-399888/Mothers-Day-Brunch.html
Oak Mountain Winery Mother’s Day Brunch | May 8 | 11:00 am – 3:00 pm | $69 Non-Members – $59 Members – $17 for Children 10 and under | For reservation information please visit https://shop.oakmountainwinery.com/event-tickets-c11.aspx
Peltzer Family Cellars Mother’s Day Brunch on the Farmstead | May 8th at 10am and 1pm | $75 adults, $45 ages 3-11, 2 and under free | Reservations available on www.peltzerwinery.com
Wilson Creek Winery Celebrate Mother’s Day at the Creekside Grille | May 8 | 10:00am | Enjoy a plated Sunday brunch at Wilson Creek Winery! | For additional information and to make your reservations please visit www.WilsonCreekWinery.com
When it’s movie night – or the big game on TV night, make sure the snacks belong on the highlight reel. With this trio of wine-friendly flavored popcorns, the treats may steal the show. Make one, two or all three if you’re feeling ambitious. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon.
Stovetop Popcorn from ¼ cup popcorn kernels
1-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika), hot or mild, or paprika
½ teaspoon sea salt
Put the hot popcorn in a serving bowl. Add the butter, pimentón and salt and toss well.
Porcini Butter Popcorn
Stovetop Popcorn from ¼ cup (55 g) popcorn kernels
1-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1-1/2 teaspoons porcini powder or mushroom powder (see Note)
½ teaspoon sea salt
Put the hot popcorn in a serving bowl. Add the butter, porcini powder and salt and toss well. NOTE: You can find porcini powder at spice shops and well-stocked supermarkets, or you can make your own by grinding dried porcini to a powder in a spice mill.
Brown Butter and Parmesan Popcorn
4 tablespoons (60 g) unsalted butter
Stovetop Popcorn from ½ cup (110 g) popcorn kernels
1/2 cup (30 g) finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
¾ teaspoon sea salt
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Continue cooking, swirling the pan often, until the butter stops foaming and hissing, a sign that most of the moisture has evaporated. At that point, the melted butter will begin to turn golden-brown and smell nutty. Remove from the heat. Put the hot popcorn in a serving bowl and pour the warm brown butter over the popcorn, leaving any dark solids at the bottom of the pan. Add the cheese and salt and toss well.
General stovetop popcorn preparation: Put 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 3 to 4 popcorn kernels in a heavy saucepan. Cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and place over medium heat. When the kernels pop, add ¼ cup (55 g) popcorn kernels and recover, leaving the lid slightly ajar so steam can escape. Cook over medium heat, shaking the saucepan occasionally, until you no longer hear kernels popping. Makes about 7-1/2 cups (1.75 liters).
Altisima Winery ~ 2019 Chardonnay – Aged in half stainless steel and half new French oak barrels, this full-bodied Chardonnay is the perfect white wine for the red wine drinker, boasting strong oak aromatics, a creamy texture, and a butter finish.
Is there anything better than the sound of a bottle of sparkling wine popping during the holidays? Or any time, really? While we’re big believers in popping a bottle of bubbly any time that feels right, whether ‘tis the season’ or not, there is something particularly special about uncorking some fizz as we get ready to close out 2021… and fully prepare ourselves for what 2022 holds. Gulp.
Fortunately, Temecula Valley is home to some truly exceptional sparkling wines made from traditional sparkling wine grapes like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, as well as some totally unique varieties like Shiraz and Pinotage. Before we dig into some of our favorite selections for the holidays and ringing in the new year, we thought it might be helpful to review some of the most common types of sparkling wines and how those delicate bubbles make it into our glass.
Also known as traditional method, or “Méthode Champenoise” – named for the region for this type of wine – this is the most painstaking, time-consuming way to produce bubbles.
The winemaker produces a still, dry wine with high acidity, bottles it, and then adds a mixture of more yeast and sugar to each bottle, sealing it up with a crown cap. The yeast begins to ferment the sugar again, increasing the alcohol level slightly and releasing carbon dioxide. Since the CO2 has nowhere to go, it goes back into the wine in what is called the “secondary fermentation,” giving the wine its sparkles.
What makes wines produced in this way so special is the time it spends on its “lees” – the little yeast cells that die and float to the bottom during the secondary fermentation. Some wines spend a small amount of time on them, while others age for years, giving traditional method sparkling wines greater complexity, as well as those unmistakable and delicious toasty, brioche-like aromas, and allowing the wine to age for a long time.
After the specified aging period, the neck of the bottle is submerged in an ice bath which freezes the lees sediments in the neck of the bottle. When the crown cap is removed, the frozen sediment then pops out. Finally, the dosage – the winery’s signature mix of wine and, in some cases, sugar – is added to top the bottles up and determine their sweetness level, and the bottles are corked and caged and ready for our New Year’s celebrations.
Also known as Charmat method or Cuvée Close, these wines go through a similar, but far simpler process than the traditional method of production. Essentially the base wine stays in a large tank, to which a mix of sugar and yeast is added. The tank is sealed so that the secondary fermentation occurs on a much larger scale rather than in individual bottles. The wines are then filtered, the dosage is added, and they are bottled for consumption.
Generally speaking, these wines are intended for more immediate consumption. They are simple and fruit-driven, and absolutely perfect for an everyday sipper or an apéritif before the big holiday meal.
This method is used to produce the sweet, low alcohol sparkling wines like Moscato d’Asti found in Northern Italy. The aromatic Moscato grapes are pressed and the unfermented juice is chilled until the winemaker is ready to make the batch so the wine is as fresh as possible when it is released.
When it’s time, the must is warmed so that fermentation can begin. At first, the tank isn’t sealed, so the CO2 can escape. Partway through this alcoholic fermentation, the tank is sealed up to trap the carbonation. This whole process is cut short by chilling the wine once again so that some of the sugars remain in the wine, leaving it sweet and slightly sparkling. The wine is then filtered and bottled and ready for consumption.
There are of course other ways of producing sparkling wines, such as the transfer method (similar to the traditional method, but taking place on a large scale in tank), the “Ancestral Method” (used to make the funky, all-natural “pet-nat” that is the darling of many somms and wine geeks), and the simple method of just injecting carbonation to a still wine (new use for your SodaStream, anyone?). However, the methods we have outlined are the most common, and the ones you are most likely to find on your table this season.
A Few of Our favorite Temecula Valley Sparklers:
Here are a few to try as you close out this year and toast new beginnings and the promise of a fresh new year in Temecula Valley and beyond.
Carter Estate Winery 2015 Cuvée Prestige, $75 – Gorgeously complex with layers of baked apple, pear, and lemon curd, rounded out with rich notes of brioche and toasted hazelnut, and lifted by bright acidity. This is definitely a special occasion sparkler, produced in the traditional method with nearly six years on the lees.
Thornton Winery Brut NV, $54 – Produced in the traditional method from a blend of classic Champagne grapes Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this is a crisp, clean sparkler with juicy apple, pear, and tropical aromas, and a toasty, creamy finish.
Bottaia 2020 Rosé Spumante, $45 – Strawberry, crushed raspberry, melon, and lime zest burst from the glass with this baby-pink-hued sparkling rosé. Produced from a mind-bending blend of Italian grapes Fiano, Pecorino, and Montepulciano, this is not only a fantastic, party-pleasing holiday party bubbly, but also a delicious sipper year-round.
South Coast Winery Ruby Cuvée Sparkling Syrah NV, $24 – Few wines are more festive than this crimson-colored red sparkling wine, bursting with juicy, red berry fruit. Break into that box of holiday chocolates that your neighbor dropped off, and sip this alongside them for the perfect, indulgent treat.
Oak Mountain Winery Brut Sparkling, Temecula Valley, $27 – This is such a fun sparkling wine to sip with a spread of New Year’s Eve appetizers, and while getting ready to count down to midnight. Made from the offbeat Rhône Valley grape Roussanne, it’s got plenty of fresh fruit on the palate, with bright, mouthwatering acidity, and a clean, easy-drinking finish.
Happy New Year from Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country! See you in 2022!
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.
Holiday meals are so full of different, often competing, flavors that it can be tough to find just the right wines to pair. So why not select a few unique options and let your guests mix and match with each course? To that end, we have compiled a quick guide to four foolproof wines from Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country to sip alongside your Thanksgiving spread this season.
No party is complete without some festive sparkling wine! And, it’s actually one of the easiest wine to pair with food because it goes with just about everything. From your welcome toast over hors d’oeuvres, to a spread of appetizers, to a versatile pairing for your main course, sparkling wines cleanse the palate, and compliment a wide range of flavors, so they are a must-pour for any occasion.
Temecula Valley also makes a ton of really great sparkling wines! From light and easy sweeter styles, to offbeat fizz made from non-traditional grapes, to complex vintage classic method sparklers, there is something to suit ever palate. You could even pair each course with a totally different style of sparkling wine for a unique food and wine experience.
Viognier is a white grape known primarily for its role in white wines from the Rhône Valley, in particular the appellation of Condrieu on the right bank of the Northern Rhône. It has been said to be “the hedonist’s white grape variety,” because of its exceptional body, perfume, and richness, making it perfect for a late Fall or early Winter dinner.
Temecula Valley viognier presents all of the classic markers of the grape – a heady aroma of stone fruit like apricot and peach, floral notes of honeysuckle and apple blossom, and a touch of amber musk. It’s also got a rich, slightly oily texture that coats the palate, and makes it an ideal pairing for some of the more complex flavors of the holiday table.
Not to be confused with the region of Montepulciano in Tuscany, the Montepulciano grape is one of Italy’s most widely planted. Primarily associated with the region of Abruzzo in Central Italy, wines made from the Montepulciano grape can be medium-bodied and food-friendly – a style largely intended for wines meant to be enjoyed regularly at the family dinner table.
However, in Temecula Valley – as with some producers in Italy – winemakers are experimenting with a much more serious style of Montepulciano. These wines are full bodied with dark, ripe fruit, notes of forest floor, chocolate, and spice, a medium tannin structure, and a refreshing backbone of acidity to balance the richness of the fruit. Pair these wines with the full spectrum of Thanksgiving flavors, from turkey, to duck, to roast beef, to earthy vegetarian dishes, and everything in between.
It wouldn’t be a holiday meal without a little something sweet to end with. Sherry – the famous Spanish fortified wine – is produced in a number of styles, from the light and dry fino and manzanilla sherries to the nutty and oxidized amontillado and oloroso sherries, to the sweet and popular cream sherries, to the rich, luscious PX sherries. The sweeter styles are a perfect after-dinner drink, sipped on their own, or with a helping of holiday dessert or a cheese course.
True Sherry wines must come from grapes grown and produced exclusively in the Jerez region of Spain. However the term “Sherry-style” may refer to wines made using similar production methods. Temecula Valley makes wines in this same way. These wines are fortified with a neutral spirit and typically aged oxidatively – that is, with exposure to oxygen – resulting in a browning of the wine, and nutty, toasted aromas.
One such Sherry-style wine is made with Pedro Ximénez grapes which are dried like raisins, fortified, and aged completely oxidatively, yielding a wine that is as dark as coffee, with rich caramel and dried fruit notes. In Spain, these are known as PX Sherries, and they are among the sweetest wines in the world. Pour this over vanilla ice cream or sip it alongside your holiday pecan pie for a totally decadent treat.
A Behind-the-Scenes Look at What Goes on in the Vineyard and Winery Before, During, and After Harvest in Temecula Valley
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.
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.”
“[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!”
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
FALKNER WINERY – EASTER SPECIAL CHAMPAGNE BRUNCH MENU – Because of Covid-19 concerns, this year’s Brunch will be plated dishes rather than buffet. This year the menu will be à la carte and include many Mediterranean style food offerings. The brunch will consist of both breakfast and dinner. All guests over 21 will receive a complimentary glass of Champagne. As the name implies, Champagne will be part of the meal along with other beverage options including discounted wine by the glass and several specialty cocktails. Live entertainment will also be provided. Special Easter gifts will be given to all children upon arrival.
When: Sunday, April 4, 2021
Duration: 10:00am -3:00pm
Price: A la carte menu. For full menu visit www.falknerwinery.com
Reservation info: Reservations should be made by calling 951-676-8231 ext. 4 or online at their website of www.falknerwinery.com. Reservations are available from 10 am–3:00pm.
CALLAWAY VINEYARD & WINERY – Meritage Restaurant at Callaway will be offering their new Spring menu along with special menu items for Easter such as a braised lamb shank with rosemary honey, mashed potatoes, baby carrots, and smoked salmon deviled eggs plus a whole lot more!
When: Sunday, April 4th
Duration: 11am to 5pm
Price: A la carte
Reservation info: (951) 587-8889 or visit callawaywinery.com
When: Saturday, April 3rd and Sunday, April 4, 2021
Duration: 11:00am – 5:00pm
Price: Individually priced brunch menu items.
Reservation info: Reservations highly recommended by calling 951.699.9102
EUROPA VILLAGE– Celebrate Easter Sunday with exclusive Spanish-style three-course Easter Brunch. Tempt your tastebuds at Bolero Restaurante with a delicious Roasted Carrot and Coriander Bisque, a Honey Glazed Ham or Slow-Roasted Prime Rib and a decadent Carrot Swirl Cheesecake or Chocolate & Hazelnut Torta.
February is full of wine-drinking occasions, from marking the end of Dry January (you know, if you’re into that sort of thing), to Valentine’s Day, to the Super Bowl, and everything in between. Whether you are planning a romantic night in with your honey, a night of yelling at your TV screen and high-fiving your family over touchdowns, or just stocking up after a month of nothing but diet soda and sparkling water, we’ve got your guide for what to drink for all occasions this month.
It doesn’t matter if you’re toasting your love or the winning team, sparkling wine is a great option for a celebration or for sipping with just about anything you’re eating, from game day food to fancy dishes to an entire box of Valentine’s Day chocolates (no judgement).
Everyone loves to pair chocolate with wine, but the two often go together like a Taurus and a Leo – in other words, not so well. We have, however, found an exception. Pop a bottle of this crimson-colored red sparkling wine, bursting with juicy, red berry fruit, and dip into that box of Valentine’s Day chocolate for the perfect, indulgent treat.
This crisp, clean, bone-dry bubbly is made in the méthode Champenoise, AKA how they do it in the most famous sparkling wine region of the world, Champagne. It’s light and complex, with tiny bubbles that will totally upstage any frosty game day lager.
We know sports spectating usually calls for frosty beers, but why not opt for a cold, crisp glass of white wine instead? These selections are refreshing and equally at home with a spicy plate of nachos as they are with that house-made Fettuccine Alfredo from your favorite Italian take-out spot.
Valentine’s Day Dinners are often decadent affairs – lobster tails dipped in butter, juicy roast chicken with creamy mashed potatoes, bacon-wrapped scallops (is your mouth watering yet?)… This lightly oaked Chardonnay is rich yet balanced, with bright green apple, lemon curd, and crème brulée, and will be the perfect accompaniment to your romantic dinner for two.
This fresh, juicy Vermentino, a grape that is equally at home in Temecula as it is in Sardinia, Liguria and Tuscany, will have you feeling like you’re watching the game from Italy. Notes of ripe, fleshy stone fruit, lime zest and white flowers give way to a clean, oyster shell finish. The very definition of “quaffable.”
Real sports fans drink pink. And, nothing says romance like a glass of ballet-slipper-hued nectar. If you are someone who loves the cool, crispness of a great glass of white wine, but are also looking for something with a bit more oomph, rosé is the perfect option.
“Pas Doux” translates to “not sweet,” a descriptor that lets the drinker know this wine, made from Sangiovese, was intentionally made in a classic, dry, Provençal style. This juicy rosé is bursting with strawberries and rose petals – in other words, all the ingredients of a romantic encounter.
This is a wine we refer to as “crushable,” meaning that you could drink it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So, if you’ve got a long day of watching sports ahead of you, snag a bottle of this baby pink, dry rosé, with notes of white peach, guava, lime zest, and melon. It will pair nicely with that killer seven-layer dip you make.
Given the cold, wet weather over the past few weeks, we’ve found ourselves wondering if we really do live in Southern California! Fortunately, we’ve found solace in the plush, full-bodied red wines that our Temecula Valley wineries are known for to keep us warm. Snuggle up with your significant other or curl up on the couch to watch the Big Game with one of these hearty selections.
You can close your eyes and pretend you’re having date night in Bordeaux… or better yet, among the gorgeous rolling hills of Temecula Valley. Baily Winery is known for their traditional, Old World take on winemaking – in particular Bordeaux-style blends – and this Cabernet Franc is no exception. Ripe berry and plum mingle with exotic spice and black pepper and a touch of forest floor. This is a wine to linger over now with your partner, or put away for several years until your next big anniversary.
We love this bright, fresh Barbera, produced from vine cuttings that trace their heritage all the way back to Italy’s Piedmont region, from which the Barbera grape hails. It’s juicy and packed with tart cherry and berry fruit, and just a touch of spice, making it a heavenly match for a big pot of spicy game day chili.
Meet Some of Temecula Valley’s Favorite Furry (and Feathery!) Friends
Let’s face it. We could all use a bit of levity right now. Since everyone loves animals, we decided to shine the spotlight on some of Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country’s real celebrities – the furry friends that capture the hearts of our guests with their wet noses, wagging tails, and big hearts. Here are a few of our favorites:
Visitors to Wilson Creek Winery may have met the many resident Golden Retrievers, including ten-year-old Tipsy, who loves to chase stray cats and hunt for other winery creatures. While Tipsy considers herself brave, she still heads to the closet to hide behind clothes if the smoke alarm goes off. We don’t blame her – those things are loud! Tipsy grew up around the winery and absolutely loves people. She often comes down to the winery to visit with staff, many of whom she knows have hidden treats. Smart girl.
There are lots of animals to visit over at Palumbo at any given time, from chickens to pigs to dogs. However, the most notorious of the bunch is probably their seven-year-old Australian Red Heeler-Pit Bull mix rescue, Reddog. Anyone who follows the Palumbos on social media will no doubt have seen a picture of Reddog in his favorite state: chasing rabbits. He jumps the fence and catches at least one rabbit a day. Lucky tasters on the patio are occasionally gifted with one of Reddog’s bunny conquests, and the tasting room has, on occasion, been evacuated on account of the gas Reddog gets from eating too many rabbits. When Reddog isn’t chasing poor bunnies, he’s either sleeping or thinking about harvest, his favorite time of year. In fact, every year when harvest is over, he goes into a bit of a depression. Who can blame him? It’s the most exciting time of the year in Wine Country!
Let’s not forget about Palumbo’s star rooster, Little Richard. This one-year-old spitfire loves to cock-a-doodle-doo all day long, while walking the winery fence and hitting up the tasting patio to visit with guests. When we asked if he had any weird habits, owner Cindy Palumbo told us, “He is a rooster, so everything he does is pretty weird.” We’ll drink to that.
Fans of Baily Winery will likely have met their resident rodent control officer, Bordeaux. This eight-year-old Tiger Cat loves people, greeting visitors and looking for attention from everyone who comes into the winery. Bordeaux is such a famous fixture at Baily that he was featured on the label of their 2017 Sangiovese.
If you haven’t yet played a game of soccer, wine glass in hand, with Peltzer’s black and white Border Collie, Duke, you are missing out. This five-year-old pup loves to challenge guests to a match in front of the Crush House. In fact, he is such a natural at footie, that instead of retrieving balls with his mouth during a game of fetch, he rolls them back with his nose, Pelé-style. Duke sits outside of the Crush House all day greeting and visiting with guests, just waiting for someone to challenge him to a Wine Country World Cup.
Brothers Buddy and Bandit are the inseparable sibling duo over at Oak Mountain. These ten-year-old Queensland Heelers also love to chase rabbits (no word on any tummy troubles though) and sniff the grapes to see if they are ripe, no doubt a useful skill at a winery. While they make great watch dogs, they’re not so great with other animals. That doesn’t stop them from hanging out over at the Oak Mountain production facility, keeping everyone company and playing in the water when the team is washing out tanks.
Visitors to Akash love their one-and-a-half-year-old Goldendoodle, Brodi. This big, happy fluffball loves to chase the lizards that sunbathe on warm Southern California days, and is guilty of occasionally breaking guests’ wine glasses with his enormous, constantly wagging tail. Because he spends so much time hanging out with Akash’s Aussie Director of Operations, Sharon Cannon, some say Brodi is starting to bark with an Australian accent.