Check in every month where we feature a new interview with a Temecula Valley winery owner. You’ll learn where they came from, why they chose Temecula – and what keeps them passionate about the sometimes not-so-glamorous life of a winery owner.
Today, we’re sitting down with Jim Carter, owner of South Coast Winery Resort and Spa, at the winery’s restaurant, Vineyard Rose. Never one to sit still for long, the energetic father of 13, grandfather to 27 and great-grandfather to 4 is a man on a mission!
South Coast Winery opened in 2001 and has grown exponentially since then, was that always part of the vision?
I knew what I wanted to build way before I started construction. I’d visited wine regions throughout the state and knew that ultimately I wanted to have a place where people would want to come and stay amongst the vineyards. We built in phases, starting with the production side and the tasting room. Phase 2 was the villas, phase 3 the Vineyard Rose restaurant, phase 4 the conference center and finished off with phase 5, the Grapeseed Spa. I think there was about 10 or 11 wineries when I started. Who knew it was going to develop as quickly as it did?
But that really wasn’t what I had in mind when I bought my first Temecula vineyard property back in 1981. I wanted to grow grapes. And I planted a lot of them beginning back in 1995 on a 400 acre piece of property that I’d purchased years before up along the east side of Mount Palomar. It’s a spectacular vineyard we named Wild Horse Peak and it produces some fabulous grapes. My kids and I would spend weekends and summers up there digging and planting. I just fell in love with the farming side. The winery is the vehicle that allows me to be a grape grower.
The winery has quite an extensive menu of wines, was that also part of the plan?
We just kept planting to see which clonal varietals grew well here and we ended up liking pretty much everything we grew. So we’re in a unique position in that we can now make a wine that suits just about anyone’s palate. There’s a wine for everyone – and I want to make sure that visitors can discover what they love right here in our tasting room.
So what’s next?
Carter Estate Winery and Resort. The first phase of our family’s next adventure is set to open in January. It’s a completely different concept from this winery. Our production will be quite limited. We sourced the fruit for these bottlings from some of our best vineyard blocks and have used the best barrels on the market to hand craft 4-5 different wines that we’ll be releasing under the Carter Estate label. And we’re also really excited to announce that we’ll be showcasing some new “methode champenoise”, traditional style sparkling wines over there too. We’re really anxious to share these small lot wines that we’ve been bottling and cellaring for awhile now.
And we’re also breaking ground on a winery/brew pub in the Texas hill country, just outside of Austin in a town called Johnson City.
Sounds like crazy talk to me! Do you ever sleep? What keeps you awake at night?
I have a good life. About the only think that keeps me awake is praying for rain! We sure need us a good rainy winter.