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Posts Tagged ‘temecula valley winegrowers association’

WINTER BEET AND CITRUS SALAD WITH DATES AND ALMONDS

Wednesday, January 6th, 2021

Winter Beet & Citrus Salad

Sweet, tart, crunchy, tangy—this colorful salad has it all. Its contrasting textures and surprising flavors keep you coming back for another refreshing bite. Serve the salad with store-bought roast chicken or grilled lamb chops. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Chardonnay or Sparkling Wine.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium golden beets, about ¾ pound (325 g), greens removed if attached 
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar 
  • 3 whole allspice berries 
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme 
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
  • Sea salt  
  • 3 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted 
  • 2 large navel oranges or blood oranges 
  • ½ large fennel bulb 
  • 6 Medjool dates, pitted and quartered lengthwise 
  • 2 ounces feta, preferably Greek or French 
  • Fresh mint leaves 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put the beets in a baking dish with the vinegar, allspice, thyme, and ½ inch of water. Cover and bake until the beets are tender when pierced, 45 to 60 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel the beets. Refrigerate, covered, until chilled, then slice thin.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt to taste.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Toast the almonds on a baking sheet until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool.

Cut a slice off both ends of each orange so it will stand upright. Stand each orange on a cutting surface and, using a sharp knife, remove all the peel and white pith by slicing from top to bottom all the way around the orange, following the contour of the fruit. Slice the peeled oranges crosswise ¼ inch thick. Discard the first and last slices if they seem to be mostly membrane. Remove the small bit of white pith at the center of each slice.

Cut the halved fennel bulb in half lengthwise. With a vegetable slicer or by hand, shave or slice very thin. Put the fennel in a small bowl and add just enough of the olive oil-lemon dressing to coat the fennel lightly. Toss gently.

On a serving platter or on individual salad plates, arrange the beets and oranges informally, breaking the orange slices into half-moons or even smaller pieces. Scatter the fennel on top, then top with the dates, almonds, and crumbled feta. Drizzle with the remaining dressing. Scatter a few small mint leaves on top, or tear into smaller pieces if they are large. Serve immediately.

Suggested Pairings:

Callaway Vineyard & Winery ~ 2018 Winemaker’s Reserve Chardonnay – Silky on the pallet with flavors of green apple, tropical fruit and hints of honeysuckle.

Oak Mountain Winery ~ 2018 Chardonnay – This chardonnay is lightly oaked with French oak imparting rich flavors of vanilla, butterscotch, creme brulee and caramel.

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa ~ Brut – Delicate bubbles burst with lively fruit notes that combine with hints of toasted brioche, giving way to a layered, lasting finish.

Thornton Winery ~ NV Blanc De Noir – a rich, complex sparkler made entirely from Pinot Noir grapes. With a hint of color from minimal skin contact, it has a hint of strawberry and toasty yeast, with citrus and apple flavors.

Recipe & photo courtesy of The Wine Institute of California

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And Here’s How It All Began…

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

Brookside Winery 1971

In the 1850s, Temecula became a stop on the stagecoach lines that were becoming the logistical route of choice in California. So popular was this route, a post office was set up in town which was a rare institution in California at the time. Settlement increased during the late 1860s as displaced Confederates moved West in the wake of the Civil War.

Because of the region’s isolation, Temecula retained many of its Native American, Spanish and Mexican customs and culture long after California was ceded to the United States. Throughout time, however, Native American lands were being purchased or seized and in 1875, the final blow was delivered when tribal nations signed a treaty relinquishing the remainder of their land in the Temecula Valley. A decade later, the Native Americans who remained were relocated to the Pechanga Reservation.

The railroad line boosted Temecula’s economy when the route was extended to the region in 1882. Unfortunately, the line was abandoned later that decade due to damage from incessant flooding. The major industries during these years were stone quarries, cattle and shipping. During the American Prohibition of the 20s and 30s, the Temecula Valley operated its share of bootlegging and speakeasies.

In 1904, Walter Vail arrived in Temecula and bought nearly 90,000 acres in the region. His family would do much to influence and shape the town during the first half of the 20th century. The Vail family’s biggest achievement was damming the Temecula River and creating Vail Lake in 1948.

In 1961 Mahlon Vail had been successfully operating the enormous Vail Cattle Ranch for nearly six decades. He was in his seventies and his health was failing. With no immediate heirs Vail began actively seeking a buyer for the ranch. One of those potential buyers contacted Richard Break, an experienced farm manager and broker from Fresno. The buyer wanted his professional opinion on the feasibility of growing citrus on the property. After reviewing temperature records for the Temecula area kept by the University of California at Riverside, Break became convinced that the climate and soil conditions in the valley were better suited for the growing of wine grapes.

In 1964 Vail successfully completed negotiations on the sale of the ranch to Kaiser Industries and Macco Realty, who together formed the Rancho California Development Corporation. Throughout 1965 the development company mapped out its plans for a “Master Planned Community.” The community would include commercial and industrial sites as well as residential and agricultural development. The campaign attracted the attention of a number of notables including then California Governor Ronald Reagan, who purchased a sizable portion of the Santa Rosa Plateau.

Another Hollywood couple who saw an opportunity to pursue a long-held dream of retiring to a sizable estate with a comfortable Mediterranean style adobe was Vincenzo and Audrey Cilurzo. In 1967 they purchased 40 acres of property down a long dirt road known as Long Valley Road (soon to become Rancho California Road). The Cilurzo’s established the first modern commercial vineyard in the Temecula Valley in 1968.

In 1974, the founding of Callaway Winery (by Ely Callaway, of golf fame) marked the beginning of large production winemaking in the Temecula Valley. Callaway, sold the winery in 1981 to Hiram Walker and Sons. John Poole opened Mount Palomar Winery in 1975, and in 1978 the Cilurzos opened another Temecula winery at a new site. Their original vineyard, Temecula’s oldest, is now owned by Maurice Carrie Winery. Today, there are over 40 wineries in the Temecula Valley.

Though Temecula became an incorporated city in 1989, the region officially became an American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 1984. Modern Temecula Wine Country is located east of the Rainbow Gap in Riverside County and the Temecula wine community has grown considerably since its humble beginnings.

Copy courtesy of The City of Temecula and Robert Renzoni Vineyards

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How Our “New Normal” is Actually a Better Normal

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

Cheers to 2021!

Well, the day we never thought would come finally did, and 2021 is officially in full swing. While the world is still a bit topsy turvy, and so much uncertainty remains, the start of a new year seems as good a time as any to look back on lessons learned, and contemplate what comes next.

Temecula Valley Wine Country went through a roller coaster of changes in 2020, as we implemented new policies to keep our customers and staff members safe, and experimented with creative ways to keep you engaged. While some changes we will be happy to say goodbye to when things get back to normal, some new practices we may hang on to just a little bit longer, if not forever, because, well… we kind of like them.

Change can often be uncomfortable, but it isn’t always a bad thing. So, in celebration of flexibility and fresh new starts, we would like to share the top five things that came out of 2020 that we will not be saying goodbye to in 2021.

  1. Reservations and Seated, Guided Tastings

When wineries were asked to implement social distancing protocols by limiting visitor numbers and requiring spacing among tables and tasting areas, reservation systems and more formal seated tastings made it easier to manage customer flow, while still ensuring a pleasant experience for guests.

What many of us realized in the process was that these guided tastings allowed us to get to know our customers better, and gave our guests more opportunities to ask questions, and learn more about our wineries and the wines in their glasses. While we look forward to welcoming guests back to our communal – and convivial! – tasting bars, we don’t anticipate our wineries giving up the more intimate, seated, guided tasting format any time soon. In fact, we look forward to new ways our wineries can use this type of experience to educate and entertain Temecula Valley visitors!

2. Taking Things Virtual

Why just get a bottle of wine when you can get a bottle of wine and meet the winemaker… virtually, from the comfort of your living room couch? 2020 was the year of the Zoom happy hours and virtual experiences and boy did we have fun with these! From virtual winery tours to wine club parties to educational tastings and more, Temecula Valley wineries took to the Internet to meet their fans and share their sips and stories.

Not only has this been a great way for us all to stay in touch with customers, but it has also been a way for us to make new friends across the country. We know wine lovers in other states and cities may not be able to visit us all the time, but Temecula Valley wineries can ship wine to just about any state, and the Internet knows no state lines! We can’t wait to see you on our computer screens over a glass or two of wine soon.

3. Trying New Wines

Nothing makes you crave new things quite like being stuck in your house, not being able to see your loved ones, and having all your favorite activities canceled for months on end. This boredom led many of us to take up new hobbies, learn different languages, and master new skills.

It led us to branch out of our sipping comfort zone to give some of those hard-to-pronounce grapes (hello, Falanghina!) a try. One of the most beautiful things about Temecula Valley is that we grow dozens of different varieties that all thrive here thanks to our Southern Californian Mediterranean climate. We know we won’t be losing that sense of adventure when it comes to wine discoveries in 2021; we hope you will keep up the curiosity as well!

4. Cool New Events

Temecula Valley is known for some pretty amazing events year-round thanks to gorgeous vineyards, stunning properties, and nearly 365 days of sunshine. When social distancing and outdoor tasting and dining requirements were put in place, Temecula Valley wineries had to get really creative when it came to event planning. The result? Fun new outings like drive-in movies, socially distanced yoga, and intimate (but at totally spaced-out tables) wine dinners among the vines.

Temecula Valley wineries have always thought outside the box when it comes to interesting grape blends, planting new varieties, and producing exciting wines. We are excited to see what’s next on the event horizon once things open back up. Hopefully some of these new, creative event concepts stick around, because there are few things better than sipping a bottle of your favorite Temecula Valley wine from the flatbed of your truck while watching “The Sandlot” on the big screen at sunset.

5. Gratitude

We’ve said it once, and we will say it again. We could not have gotten through 2020 without our loyal and supportive customers and visitors. We have also been reminded of the power of a simple thank you; of taking time to acknowledge those around us who keep us smiling – and afloat. Many Temecula Valley wineries have said thank you with special offers, discounts and promotions on wine, dining and shipping. No doubt we will continue to see these in the coming months. But we will never stop feeling grateful for YOU, and all that you as visitors and fans do to make our Wine Country so special.

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WINE MEETS CHEESE

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020

Wine Meets Cheese

This holiday season, up your cheese board game with these expert suggestions for pairings with some of our region’s most popular wines. Not sure what cheeses play well with your favorite Temecula Valley Chardonnay, Zinfandel, or Cabernet Sauvignon? Now you know.

CHARDONNAY

  • Triple-cream cheese: These cream-enriched, high-fat cow’s milk cheeses have a texture like whipped frosting and a luxurious richness that work well with Chardonnay’s plush, rounded mouthfeel.
  • Brie: This semisoft cow’s milk cheese has a buttery, spreadable texture and mushroom scent. A velvety Chardonnay complements that supple, spreadable interior and the Brie doesn’t overwhelm the wine.
  • Monterey Jack: California’s iconic table cheese is mild, mellow, and a great melter. Try it on a grilled cheese sandwich with a glass of Chardonnay. The wine’s acidity and minerality help balance the buttery sandwich.


Suggested Pairings:

Callaway Vineyard & Winery – 2018 Winemaker Reserve Chardonnay ~ The 2018 Winemaker’s Reserve Chardonnay is silky on the pallet with flavors of green apple, tropical fruit and hints of honeysuckle. Floral scents and an oaky finish will leave you longing for more. 

Oak Mountain Winery – 2019 Chardonnay ~ You can pick up apple, pineapple, honey, vanilla, and roasted flavors that really fill the mouth. This chardonnay is lightly oaked with French oak imparting rich flavors of vanilla, butterscotch, crème brulee and caramel. Pairs with roast chicken.

Ponte Winery – 2018 Chardonnay ~ A lively, fresh white wine with delicious Fuji apple and allspice notes. Let the lush mouthfeel & minerality on the finish whisk you away sip after sip.

ZINFANDEL

  • Hot pepper jack: An everyday cheese with some sass and spice makes a fun pairing for a peppery Zinfandel. Make quesadillas or mac-and-cheese with hot pepper jack, and Zinfandel will be just the right lively match.
  • Aged Gouda: Matured for six months or more, cow’s milk Gouda develops butterscotch aromas and a salted-caramel flavor (although the cheese doesn’t have a speck of sugar). A powerful Zinfandel with its ripe blackberry jam scent has the strength for that seeming sweetness.
  • Smoked Cheddar: Put a lightly smoked Cheddar on a charcuterie or antipasto platter and open a fruity, medium-weight Zinfandel. Give the wine a quick chill—maybe 15 minutes in the fridge—to brighten its fruity notes and make it a refreshing counterpoint to the smoky Cheddar.

    Suggested Pairings:

    Doffo Winery – 2017 Zinfandel ~ This Zinfandel is sure to delight the senses with aromas of plum, raspberry, figs, and cherries. The balanced acidity and voluminous mouthfeel leave a long lasting finish.

    Hart Winery – 2017 Zinfandel ~ This deliciously complex wine is illustrative of the quality attainable from a well-farmed young vineyard. Less spicy, jammy and lower in alcohol than a Northern California Zin, this wine is remini-cent of its first cousin Primitivo and is a fine complement a variety of dishes. 

    Lorenzi Estate Vineyards & Winery – 2015 Zinfandel ~  There is a seamless transition from the front to mid to finish on this wine. The finish is so clean, holding on to the dried fruit elements to the end and nothing is out of balance. It’s pure joy to drink this wine.


CABERNET SAUVIGNON

  • Camembert: Similar to Brie but smaller, Camembert is the perfect size for four people to share with a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. A ripe Camembert has a big beefy aroma, with notes of mushroom and garlic. It can stand up to the deep flavor and tannic strength of Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Cheddar: An aged Cheddar has a creamy-yet-crumbly texture, layers of flavor that unfold slowly, and a vivid tang. Seek out a clothbound (also known as bandage-wrapped) Cheddar for maximum complexity and compatibility with a fine California Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Dry jack: The extra-aged version of a Monterey jack is firm, complex, and deeply nutty. It needs a concentrated red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon to match it in strength.


Suggested Pairings:

Baily Winery – 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon ~  This Cabernet offers warm, rich tones with subtle, herbaceous qualities and a hint of mint. 

Leoness Cellars – 2017 Cellar Selection Cabernet Sauvignon ~ Inviting aromas of black currant and boysenberry fruit layered with subtle notes of vanilla, black licorice, olive and sweet oak leading into a lingering finish.

Masia de la Vinya – 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon ~ Rose petals, baked cherry pie, slight bite of white pepper.

Content and photo courtesy of The Wine Institute of California.

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Your 2020 (and beyond) Temecula Valley Holiday Wine Guide

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020

Holiday Wines to Pair or Share

If there has ever been a year that has called for wine, 2020 is that year. And, since the holidays may look a little bit different to many of us this season, we’re all probably going to need a tad more adult grape juice over the next month or so.

In Temecula Valley, we enjoy a warm, Mediterranean climate that offers long, sunny days followed by afternoon breezes and cool, crisp nights; these conditions are ideal for ripening grapes while retaining balance and acidity. As a result, we are able to produce a wide range of wines from dozens of different grape varieties – plenty of which are absolutely perfect for holiday sipping and gift-giving (if you can part with your bottles). Here are a few of our favorites this season.

When the situation calls for bubbles:

As far as we’re concerned, bubbles are always in order. This year, toast the little things in life that we all seem to have come to appreciate so much more in 2020, like finally getting around to cleaning out that hall closet; or your third-grader nailing their virtual book report; or whipping up your very first homemade loaf of bread. Who needs a wedding or a birth announcement when we’ve got these everyday triumphs all around us?

Temecula Valley produces some truly wonderful sparkling wines in a range of styles from sweet to bone dry. Many Temecula Valley sparklers are even made in the “méthode traditionnelle” or Champagne method, where the wine undergoes secondary fermentation (the one that gives the wine its bubbles) in the bottle, and spends a long time on its “lees” – the little yeasty cells that give traditional method sparkling wines those unmistakable and delicious toasty, brioche-like aromas.

A few to try:

Carter Estate Winery Blanc de Noir, $35

South Coast Winery Vineyard Rose Sparkling Rosé NV, $20

Oak Mountain Winery Sparkling Pinotage NV, $34

Thornton Winery Cuvée de Frontignan NV, $39

Rosé ALWAYS

Rosé isn’t just a summer sipper! It’s a wonderfully versatile wine that pairs well with a variety of different foods, like colorful charcuterie platters, savory salads, fish and light meats. Temecula Valley is home to a growing number of delicious rosé wines in a whole spectrum of hues from pale salmon to bright magenta, and flavors from dry and crisp to sweet and cheerful. Rosé is also a great in-between wine when you can’t agree on whether to drink white or red (Let’s face it. Who hasn’t had that argument with their spouse or significant other?).

A few to try:

Akash Winery 2019 Parlez-Vous Rosé, $35

Hart Winery 2019 Grenache Rosé, $22

Robert Renzoni Vineyards 2019 Lyric Rose, $29

Avensole 2018 Brooke Rosé of Merlot, $26

Food Friendly Favorites

One thing is for certain over the holidays, regardless of whether or not you are traveling or getting together with friends and family: there will be lots of eating. Consider December your last hurrah before those New Year’s resolutions rear their ugly heads and you feel compelled to cut carbs, hit the gym or – gasp! – embrace the whole “Dry January” movement. In the spirit of indulgence, make sure you have a selection of wines on hand that pair with a wide variety of holiday dishes. Choose a quaffable white and a juicy, versatile red that will complement rather than overpower the inevitable smorgasbord that lies ahead this month. Save the heady stuff for sipping solo after the last dish has been washed and put away, and you finally have a few minutes to yourself to lounge by the fire.

A few to try:

Danza del Sol Winery 2019 Albariño, $32

Wiens Family Cellars 2019 Chardonnay, $34

Miramonte 2017 Tempranillo, $50

Wilson Creek 2019 Variant Series Cabernet Sauvignon/Zinfandel Blend, $21

When it’s time to open something special

If there is one thing that 2020 has taught us, it’s that nothing is for certain. If you have been sitting on those special bottles of wine you have collected over the years, and are waiting for the right occasion to open them, now is the time. Few things scream “self-care” like curling up on the couch by the fire with your partner or a great new TV series and a bottle of something totally over the top. You deserve it after everything 2020 has thrown at you.  

A few to try:

Ponte 2018 Chardonnay Reserve, $50

Doffo Winery 2017 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, $89

Lorenzi Estate 2014 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, $225

Leoness Cellars 2017 Signature Series Meritage, $100

When you’ve got a sweet tooth

Why just have dessert when you can have dessert paired with a small glass of dessert wine? There are many wineries in Temecula Valley that are producing some interesting and truly impressive sweet tipples. Sip these alongside something decadent like a chocolate tarte or a winter cheese course with all the fixings, like nuts, candied fruits, preserves, and sweet breads. Or just pour a taste of the luscious nectar, retire to the living room, and see above regarding self-care.

A few to try

Callaway Winery 2017 Late Harvest Chardonnay, $35

Europa Village Bolero Cellars 2004 Tesoro del Sol, $40

Fazeli Cellars 2013 “Rumi” 100% Cinsault Dessert Wine, $95

Monte de Oro 2008 Forty85 Dessert Wine, $65

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Winter in Wine Country

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020

Winter in the Vines

So, what exactly goes on in the vineyards when it’s winter time?  The annual growth cycle of Temecula Valley’s grapevines consummates in autumn with leaf fall followed by vine dormancy. After harvest, typically August-October in Temecula, the vine’s roots and trunk are busy storing carbohydrate reserves produced by photosynthesis in their leaves. Once the level of carbohydrates needed by the vine is reached, the leaves change from green to yellow and start to fall off the vines. Usually after the first frost, the vine enters its winter dormancy period. During this time, winemakers get a break from the bulk of their farm work as the vines sleep and start to prepare for the next wine season.

During this dormant period, according to Wiens Family Cellars winemaker Joe Wiens, the vines don’t need a lot of attention. Wiens puts on a little water to keep the roots moist and let them sleep. “We get to breathe a sigh of relief after the long hours of crush but have plenty of other things to keep us busy” says Wiens. Blending, barrel work, and bottling, in addition to brushing up on wine knowledge, new techniques, and attending winemaking seminars to continually improve are some of the things that keep him busy.

Nick Palumbo, winemaker and owner of Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery shares: “Winter time is busy! The good news is it gets cold here in Temecula, so the vines go into dormancy and that gives us a chance to get caught up in the cellar after a long harvest season. That means topping barrels, assessing previous vintages and getting ready for bottling as well as general maintenance. Mulching is done if needed and pruning all needs to be done just after the holidays. Weed and pest control (gophers etc) as well as going through the irrigation system and getting that dialed in for the spring are all on the to do list. We also don’t forget to prep for much needed rain events. We need to make sure if and when we do get rain, it doesn’t erode our soils and farm roads. Winter is a good time for winemakers to take off the cellar boots, put on the farm boots, and get out in the quiet cold mornings alone and start making next years wine which will be hanging on the vines sooner than we think.”

Additionally, our winemakers stay stay busy during winter processing wines from the recent harvest. This includes filtration, cold stabilizing, racking, and placing wine into barrels. In essence, there is no downtime in winemaking. The winemakers are always processing wine from the previous harvest and preparing for the upcoming bottling season. As far as vineyard maintenance goes, many of our winemakers agree that patience is key; waiting for the vines to go dormant and then pruning them back. Temecula’s winter keeps the vines asleep only as long as necessary and ensures a longer period of time to mature the clusters during the growing season.

With all the activity in the valley during the winter, a visit to Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country is an entertaining winter option. Some wineries offer behind the scenes tours where guests can see some of the winter viticulture and winemaking processes happen in person. While visiting, guests can stay at one of the many local inns, hotels, or resorts.

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RIGATONI WITH PORK RIB SUGO

Friday, October 30th, 2020

Rigatoni with Pork Rib Sugo

The baby back ribs that most people throw on the barbecue make a succulent, rustic pasta sauce. You’ll need a friendly butcher to saw across the ribs for you, but the rest of the method is easy. The sauce (sugo in Italian) reheats well so you can make it a day ahead. Set your formal manners aside here. The best way to enjoy this dish is to nibble the meat off the riblets between bites of pasta. Cutting the meat off would spoil the fun! Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds baby back ribs, in 1 slab 
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 yellow onion, minced (about 2 cups) 
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 can (28-oz/800 g) tomatoes, pureed in a blender 
  • ¾ teaspoon ground fennel or finely crumbled dried oregano 
  • 2 sprigs fresh basil 
  • Pinch baking soda, optional 
  • 1 pound (450 g) rigatoni or penne  
  • ½ cup (35 g) freshly grated pecorino romano or Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for topping

Directions:

Ask the butcher to saw the slab of ribs lengthwise into 1-inch wide (25-mm) strips. With a chef’s knife, cut between the ribs to make individual riblets. Season all over with salt and pepper. 

In a large, heavy pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pot, brown the riblets all over, adjusting the heat to prevent burning. Transfer the riblets to a plate as they are browned. 

Pour off and discard any fat in the bottom of the pot. Return the pot to medium-low heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the onion and sauté, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the onion is soft and golden brown and the meaty residue on the bottom of the pot has dissolved, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute to release its fragrance.  

Add the tomato puree, fennel, and basil and bring to a simmer. Return the riblets to the pot along with any juices on the plate. Cover partially and adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the riblets are tender and the sauce is thick and tasty, about 1-1/2 hours, adding a splash of water occasionally if the sauce gets too thick. Season with salt and more fennel or oregano if desired. Remove the basil sprigs. If the sauce tastes tart, add a pinch of baking soda and cook for 1 minute. The baking soda will neutralize the acidity and make the sauce taste more mellow. Keep the sauce warm over low heat while you cook the pasta. 

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside 1 cup of the hot pasta water, then drain the pasta in a sieve. Return the pasta to the hot pot over medium-low heat. Add the sauce and stir to coat the pasta with the sauce. Remove from the heat, add the cheese, and stir to combine, adding reserved pasta water if needed to moisten. Divide among 6 bowls, top each portion with another sprinkle of cheese, then serve.

Suggested pairings:

Baily Winery ~ 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon –  This Cabernet offers warm, rich tones with subtle, herbaceous qualities and a hint of mint. 

Briar Rose Winery ~ 2013 Estate Zinfandel –  A smooth, medium-bodied wine with red fruit characters of blackberry, boysenberry, and black cherry

Doffo Winery ~ 2017 Zinfandel – This Zinfandel is sure to delight the senses with aromas of plum, raspberry, figs, and cherries. 

Monte de Oro Winery ~ 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – Offers youthful and pronounced aromas of ripe to jammy red fruits along with vanilla, cocoa powder, baking spices, red bellpepper, dark flowers, and hints of stone and earth. online casino

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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What’s Better Than Delicious Wine? Delicious Wine With A Side Of Adorable Wine Country Pets!

Friday, October 30th, 2020

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:

Wilson Creek Goldens

Wilson Creek Winery

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.

Reddog

Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery

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!

Little Richard

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.

Bordeaux

Baily Winery

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.

Duke

Peltzer Family Cellars

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.  

Buddy & Bandit

Oak Mountain Winery

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.

Brodie

Akash Winery

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.

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HEIRLOOM TOMATO AND BLACK OLIVE TART

Thursday, October 1st, 2020

Heirloom Tomato & Black Olive Tart

Make this colorful savory tart in late summer when tomatoes are at their flavor peak. Serve in thin slices as an appetizer or in bigger portions with a side salad for lunch. The tart also works nicely as a side dish for a roast leg of lamb or roast chicken. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Zinfandel.

Makes one 9-inch tart to serve 6 to 8 

Ingredients

Tart dough 

  • 1 cup (125 g) unbleached all-purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon sugar 
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt 
  • ½ cup (115 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, in 16 pieces
  • 1-1/2 pounds (680 g) heirloom tomatoes, cored and sliced ¼ inch (6 mm) thick, ends discarded 
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt 
  • 1 dozen kalamata or black olives, pitted and halved 
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled fine 
  • 2 tablespoons (28 g) goat cheese, at room temperature 
  • 2 tablespoon plain yogurt, or as needed 
  • 1 small clove garlic, very finely minced 
  • Basil leaves for garnish 

Directions

In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt and pulse to blend. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon water over the mixture and pulse until it begins to come together into a dough.

Turn the dough out onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and, using the plastic wrap as a barrier to avoid touching the dough, shape the dough into a ball. Wrap in the plastic, then flatten into a thick round disk. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Unwrap the dough and place it in the center of a 9-inch (23-cm) tart pan with a removeable bottom. (Do not use a black metal tart pan or the dough will likely overbrown.) Again, using the plastic wrap as a barrier to avoid touching the dough, press the dough with your hand to flatten it until it covers the bottom and sides of the tart tin. You should have just enough dough to make a thin crust with no trim. Take care to make the dough evenly thick or it may burn in spots. Prick the tart shell with a fork in several places. Lightly cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day.

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Place a sheet of aluminum foil in the tart shell to cover the bottom and top with pie weights or dried beans in an even layer. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the pie weights and the foil. Return the tart pan to the oven and continue baking until the crust is lightly browned all over, about 15 minutes longer. Set on a rack; leave the oven on.

While the tart crust bakes, place the tomato slices on a double thickness of paper towels. Sprinkle evenly with the salt. Let stand for 30 minutes. Pat the surface with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Transfer the slices to a cutting board and cut them in half, taking care to preserve their shape.

Arrange the tomato slices in the baked tart crust in concentric circles, working from the outside in and overlapping the slices. You should be able to fit all or most of the slices but reserve any extra for a salad. Tuck the olive halves into any crevices. Brush the surface with olive oil and scatter the oregano over the top. Return the tart to the oven and bake until the tomatoes are soft and sizzling, about 30 minutes. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. The tart is best when warm, not hot.

In a small bowl, blend the goat cheese and yogurt until very smooth. Add more yogurt if needed to create a sauce you can drizzle. Add the garlic (use less, if you prefer) and salt to taste.

Remove the tart from the tin and place on a serving platter. Drizzle with the goat cheese mixture and top with a few torn leaves of basil. Serve warm.

Suggested Pairings:

Doffo Winery ~ 2017 Zinfandel – This Zinfandel is sure to delight the senses with aromas of plum, raspberry, figs, and cherries. 

Hart Winery ~ Huis Vineyard Zinfandel – This fruity, classic Zin has been aged 12 months in premium American oak and blend with a kiss of Petite Sirah. 

Leoness Cellars ~ 2017 Cellar Series Zinfandel – This wine offers rich aromas and flavors of blackberry and blueberry with hints of vanilla and lavender framed by soft tannins and a long, silky finish.

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa ~ 2014 Wild Horse Peak Zinfandel – Rich berry fruit and peppery notes with delicate caramel and chocolate.

Recipe & photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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A Celebration of Temecula Valley Harvest… and of All Those Who Make our Wines Possible

Thursday, October 1st, 2020

When we pop the cork on one of our favorite bottles and pour ourselves a glass of a delicious wine, we are often thinking mostly about how it is going to make us feel, what we are going to pair it with, who else wants a glass, and if we will stop at just one. This harvest, we invite you to think of all the work that went into producing that bottle. From grape to glass, there are countless passionate people who work tirelessly to craft something that will not only delight your palate, but that will help you make lasting memories of both simple and important moments in life.

As a tribute to these folks, we are highlighting a few of the best and brightest from Temecula Valley’s vineyards and cellars. These men and women are rarely in the spotlight, but their talents shine in every bottle of Temecula Valley Southern California Wine that graces your table.

Ryan Hart

Ryan Hart, Assistant Enologist, Thornton Winery

Originally from Carlsbad, Ryan has been in Temecula Valley for four years now. And, if the name sounds familiar, it should. Yes, he is that Hart – Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country pioneer Joe Hart’s grandson – so you can say winemaking is definitely in his blood.  

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

RH: There really isn’t much of a typical day! That’s what makes this job so exciting, but in general I spend mornings tracking current ferments or making sure all the chemistry checks out with wines being held in a tank or barrel. I usually spend the later half of the day assisting Nick, our cellar lead, outside.

TVWA: What is your favorite thing about harvest?

RH: My favorite thing about harvest is the spontaneity. Every day is different. Situations arise and your skills at problem solving and risk management are often put to the test. 

TVWA: What makes Temecula Valley special to you?

RH: Temecula Valley has such a deep place in my heart. My earliest memories are of my climbing in fermentation tanks at my Grandfather’s winery, late night drives with my dad and brother to find grape boxes to pick grapes in (behind what seemed like every grocery store within 50 miles) and talking to my uncle Bill from behind the tasting room bar, the winery behind it a mystery.

TVWA: Can you share any funny or memorable moments or anecdotes from a past harvest (or this one)?

RH: Last year I was in the midst of harvest at South Coast Winery. I couldn’t remember a weekend, let alone what day of the week it was and I was discussing this and the rigors of harvest with their enologist Emily and she told me she always liked harvest because it always felt so much like Summer camp. The more I thought of it, the more it really struck home. We see our coworkers often more than our families. We spend so much time together and the days can oftentimes seem endless but the memories we hold with us will last a lifetime. 

Nick Marsolino

Nicholas Marsolino, Production Lead, Thornton Winery

Nick is originally from neighboring Murrieta, and has been in Temecula Valley for 13 years. He works closely alongside Ryan Hart at Thornton.

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

NM: A typical day for me is when I first come in Ryan and I do morning pump overs and punch downs. We are a sparkling house at Thornton Winery, if we have wine on our riddling racks Ryan and I riddle. After our morning work we meet with Tom [Thornton Winery winemaker] and we go over what need to be done which varies each day. After we finish our tasks Ryan and I finish the day with afternoon pump overs and punch downs.

TVWA: What is your favorite thing about harvest?

NM: One of my favorite things about Harvest is watching the evolution from grape to wine. Being a part of that process is special.

TVWA: What makes Temecula Valley special to you?

NM: Temecula is special to me because my family is here. I also see a lot of potential in Temecula valley as an AVA.

TVWA: Any standout harvest memories?

NM: This my second harvest so last year’s harvest is very memorable. This one incident happened where I was mixing one of our wines with a machine called a Guth, where you put its propeller through the racking valve and it mixes the wine. Well, when it was finish mixing, when I took off the Guth, I forgot to close the valve and got baptized with wine. Tom told me that I’m officially in the wine making business.

Reed Brady

Reed Brady, Vineyard/Winemaker Assistant, Palumbo Family Vineyard and Winery

Reed is born and bred Temecula Valley, and has lived here for all 25 years of his young life.

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

RB: This can vary quite a bit, but on an average harvest day I will drive the tractor at night and pick leaves from the bins. Then I will rush home and try and get a few hours of sleep. The next morning, I will destem all of the fruit picked that evening and do my punch downs or help out in the tasting room… whatever is needed for the day 

TVWA: What is your favorite thing about harvest?

RB: The work. I love how challenging and how much work is required. I believe there are two types of fun: There’s the roller coaster ride that is fun for the moment but is always a fleeting type of fun. Then there is the long, hard days that really make you work for it. That’s the type of fun that lasts a life time, and you can look back at and talk about with a sense of pride and accomplishment.

What makes Temecula Valley special to you?

RB: Being raised here in the Temecula wine country I have seen this valley grow a lot since we moved here in ‘95. It may have grown a lot, but it still maintains such a small-town feel. 

TVWA: Can you share any funny or memorable moments or anecdotes from a past harvest (or this one)?

RB: Sitting in a 55-gallon trash can filled with water while pressing merlot in 100 degree heat. Everyone else thought it was very funny; I thought it was cool.

Billy Bower

Billy Bower, Director of Agriculture, Stage Ranch Farm Management

Originally from Kirkland, Washington, Billy has spent the past 33 years in Temecula and is a celebrated fixture in Wine Country. Billy was, sadly, recently diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. As with all things that he does, he is facing it with as much strength, perseverance, and humor as he can. Billy’s family has created a Go Fund Me account to help raise money to put toward treatment and non-covered care. Please donate here if you are able.

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

BB: Overseeing 450 acres of wine grapes and, at times, up to 35 employees makes for a busy day. I oversee all the new development, daily farming, along with any problems, diseases, and any other issues that might develop in the vineyards. August through October is harvest time, therefore we work 6, sometimes 7 days a week to get the harvest in. Harvest time is both rewarding and challenging. As of late, more challenging due to labor issues and changes in our weather pattern. Lately it’s been getting hotter and hotter which speeds up the harvest, which can affect the quality of our wine. 

TVWA: What is your favorite thing about harvest?

BB: My favorite thing about harvest is seeing all the hard work during the growing season finally coming to an end – the end being a beautiful, bountiful harvest. I also have the opportunity and privilege of working with 8 different wineries in Temecula, and to see them produce great quality wines from our Temecula Valley, and knowing that it’s coming not only from myself, but also our hardworking team. 

TVWA: What makes Temecula Valley special to you?

BB: I moved to the Murrieta/ Temecula Valley area in 1987 as a teenager and fell in love with the slower paced family atmosphere, along with its great location being so close to the ocean and the mountains. I knew I wanted to make this my home. 

TVWA: Why did you decide to make Temecula Valley home?

BB: Agriculture was really secondary. I moved here to be in construction as a general contractor. But the recession in the late 80’s early 90’s caused me to get involved with agriculture. My family ended up moving back to Washington State for work, but I fell in love and didn’t want to leave. So I married my beautiful wife Kaijah and had two wonderful children, Jevon and Kelsey. After a couple of classes at UC Davis and lots of hands-on experience in the field I was happy to make agriculture my vocation in the Temecula Valley. 

TVWA: Can you share any funny or memorable moments or anecdotes from a past harvest (or this one)?

BB: Harvest of ‘94 was very memorable because our first-born son was born September 8th, right in the middle of harvest. At those times husbands or men did not get to stay home and bond with their baby –haha! I had to sleep in the walk-in closet where it was cool and dark and I wouldn’t be disturbed by our newborn baby because I was working at night and sleeping during the day, opposite of my wife and baby’s routine. Needless to say, that was a difficult harvest.

Joe Vera

Joe Vera, Cellar Master (AKA “Cellar King Rat”), Wilson Creek Winery Years in Temecula

Despite hailing from Arandas, Jalisco, Mexico, Joe has been in the Temecula Valley for a whopping 54 years! And, more importantly, 2020 marks Joe’s 50th harvest in Temecula Valley!

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

JV: It’s a juggling act.  My regular day consists of compliance, cellar management and maintenance, training, weighing and harvesting… and a lot of head shaking.

TVWA: What is your favorite thing about harvest?

JV: I love watching the grapes come in and weighing and crushing them. 

TVWA: What makes Temecula Valley special to you?

JV: The valley is special to me because I came here as a teenager when Temecula had a population of 42. I’ve loved watching the growth (to whatever population it is now).  But the most special is the people I have met along the way.  My dad brought me here and put me to work.  As an adult, I had a great job at Callaway (I was there for 32 years) and never wanted to leave. [I ultimately] married and raised kids here in the valley.

TVWA: Can you share any funny or memorable moments or anecdotes from a past harvest (or this one)?

 JV: This is serious stuff!  Probably the most memorable was two years ago when we broke a record here at Wilson Creek of harvesting 474 TONS!  It was crazy! There used to be a time where harvest was just a small group of us in the valley. We had lots of fun, we all worked close together and enjoyed the camaraderie.  Everyone knew everyone.  This valley is so big now and there are so many people I don’t know!  It’s become some serious business!  There is a small group of us that still get together every Friday and share our stories over a beer or two. This valley is very special.

Brian Marquez

Brian Marquez, Assistant Winemaker, Wiens Family Cellars

Even though he has been there since 2007, Brian is one of the few at Wiens Family Cellars who isn’t actually related to the Wiens family. But that hasn’t stopped him from being treated like a blood relative… for better or for worse!

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

BM: I start my morning flying hot air balloons Over Temecula. Then I get to the winery, and manage all of the fermenting lots. I also organize pressing and racking and bottling, because we bottle through harvest. I then question [winemaker] Joe [Wiens] on everything because that’s how we push each other. 

TVWA: What’s your favorite thing about harvest?

BM: That it’s acceptable to drink Pabst Blue Ribbon at 9 am! One of the things I look forward to is when all the white wines are done fermenting and we have new wines in the tanks to finally taste. Also, I get to bring my kids with me and they love helping with punch downs 

TVWA: What makes Temecula Valley special to you?

BM: I grew up in Temecula and had the opportunity to help build up this region. I have been making wine here for 13 years, and have been getting attention from all the older guys that have been doing it for years before us, and being told I’ve got what it takes to help put Temecula on the map mean a lot. This is my home, where I was raised and where I raise my kids. 

TVWA: Got any funny or memorable moments or anecdotes from a past harvest (or this one)?

BM: Joe and I constantly saying, “Theoretically it should work.” We are professionals…but we never went to school for this.

Kaitlin Murray

Kaitlin Murray, Wine and Viticulture Intern/Server, Peltzer Winery

A SoCal native from Mission Viejo, Kaitlin has only been in Temecula for two months, but already feels right at home.

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

KM: When I started at Peltzer I was an intern. We were about six weeks away from harvest. I would get to the vineyard early to collect berry samples for brix testing. During this time, I really got to know the vineyard and it became one of my favorite parts of the day. A lot of time is dedicated throughout the day planning for things needed for harvest like bottles, storage and cleaning supplies. Once harvest started it was over in the blink of an eye. This was my first harvest so everything was very exciting and new. It definitely was a lot of work, but I’m really glad I was able to be a part of such an important time in the wine’s life.

TVWA: What is your favorite aspect of harvest?

KM: My favorite thing about harvest is just how fast-paced the whole process is. It’s definitely a thrill and you always have to be on your toes. 

TVWA: What makes Temecula Valley special to you?

KM: I’ve only been in Temecula for 2 months now, but I’m already in love. The location is absolutely beautiful, but it is really the amazing people that have made this place so special to me. I love the passion and commitment that the people have for creating delicious wines!

TVWA: Can you share any memorable moments in your winemaking journey so far?

KM: This is a tough question for me because this was my first harvest and the whole process will forever be cherished. But one thing that I will think about and look forward to for next year are the early mornings in the vineyard. Standing in the middle of the vineyard I am surrounded by the plants that give our wines life. I can only see the vines and the sky which is usually filled with hot air balloons amidst the rising sun. There is a crispness in the air that jumpstarts me for the day. Everything is so peaceful and calm.  It is pure tranquility.

Gregorio Retana

Gregorio Retana, Cellar Master, Robert Renzoni Vineyards

Originally from Mexico, Gregorio has been in Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country for 21 years.

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

GR: My day to day is always different depending on the season; harvest, bottling, cellar, or vineyard practices to name a few. From barrel work and racking a tank in the cellar, to discing the vineyard or bottling our wine, my typical day ranges.

TVWA: What is your favorite thing about harvest?

GR: My favorite thing about harvest is experiencing the whole process of grapes being turned into wine and enjoying it with my family and friends.

TVWA: What makes Temecula Valley special to you?

GR: From working with Stage Ranch for years planting vineyards across Temecula Valley, and now becoming the cellar master at Robert Renzoni Vineyards, I have met a  lot of people through the Valley who I’ve become close friends with. I’m so happy to have made Temecula Valley my home and feel lucky to have played a part in almost every vineyard in this region.

TVWA: Can you share a memorable moment during your time in Wine Country?

GR: A memorable moment here at Robert Renzoni Vineyards is simply how we all treat each other like we are family. I’m glad to call this place my second home.

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