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Our Favorite Temecula Valley Grapes for Fall Sipping

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019

Beautiful Fall Vineyards

As summer winds to an end, and pumpkin spice starts creeping into what seems like literally everything, it’s about that time to turn our palates to Fall flavors, especially when it comes to wine. Harvest is under way and this year’s grape crop is getting picked and processed into a new vintage. As we welcome this change in weather and celebrate the next phase in the life cycle of the grape, we thought we would put together a list of some of our favorite wine grapes for fall. Whether you love the classics or are itching to try something new and unique, you’re bound to find something you like in this lineup.

Grape: Chardonnay

What it’s like: If you’re part of the “Anything but Chardonnay” crowd, you need to think again. Chardonnay is a wonderfully versatile grape that comes in so many different styles, from crisp and clean with notes of green apple and citrus, to rich and buttery, dripping with tropical fruit and caramel, and everything in between.

Why we love it: Although classically linked to the Burgundy region of France, Chardonnay is actually the most-planted white grape in the world, growing in every region wine grapes are planted, including Temecula Valley. Chardonnay is the perfect departure from the light and zingy whites of Summer. It’s got a little more body, and takes on a wide range of dishes depending on the style of the wine.

Some to try:

2017 Robert Renzoni “Barile” Chardonnay, $28

A complex and elegant wine, boasting hints of baked apple, buttered toast and hazelnut.  Aged for 10 months in 40% new French Oak.

2018 Oak Mountain Chardonnay, $24

This Chardonnay is only slightly oaked, imparting delicate flavors of vanilla, butterscotch and caramel, mingled with apple, pineapple, honey and vanilla. A dream paired with roast chicken.

2018 South Coast Winery Chardonnay “Sans Chêne,” $16

Translating to “without oak,” this Chardonnay is bright and clean, with notes of Honeycrisp apple, citrus zest, and jasmine blossom and a long, mouth-watering finish.

Grape: Viognier

What it’s like: Viognier is a red-wine drinker’s white. It’s rich, luscious and full-bodied, with powerful and unmistakable floral aromatics.

Why we love it: Viognier originated in Southern France and the Rhône Valley, and thrives equally well in the soils and climate of Temecula Valley. Like Chardonnay, it tends to have more weight than other whites so can stand up to some of the richer flavors of Fall.

Some to try:

2018 Doffo Winery Concrete Fermented Viognier, $32

This vibrant wine’s aromatics explode with bright floral notes on the nose, delighting the senses as it hits the palate. An elegant backbone of acidity balances out the soft tones of honeysuckle and apricot.

2018 Monte de Oro Viognier, $23

Ripe stone fruit meets tropical aromas and notes of apple blossom in this rich bottling. The luscious and layered palate of this wine makes it a great match for exotic cuisines like spicy Thai and Indian dishes.

2018 Europa Village Viognier, $35

While Viognier is sometimes fermented in oak, this bottling was done in stainless steel in order to let the pure, rich fruit character prevail. Aromas of ripe nectarines, orange blossoms and a hint of fresh herbs flow into a soft and balanced palate with long-lasting, tingling acidity. This wine is perfect for sushi night with family and friends.

Grape: Cinsault (also Cinsaut)

What it’s like: If you like lighter bodied wines like Pinot Noir and Gamay, you will love Cinsault. Hailing from Southern France as well, this grape is capable of producing elegant, complex wines with juicy red fruit and unique savory notes when handled well.

Why we love it: It’s not Winter yet, so if you’re not ready to move to the heavy Syrahs and Zinfandels we crave in cold weather, Cinsault is the perfect pick. It’s juicy, it’s easy-drinking and it’s great with all kinds of dishes. If you’re really not ready for Summer to be over, you can even serve it with a slight chill.

Some to try:

2014 Fazeli Cellars “Phel Phel” Cinsault, $38

A true cherry pie of a wine! Bright red stone fruit with subtle hints black pepper, cigar and spice. Medium bodied with soft but ample tannins.

2016 Wilson Creek Winemaker’s Select Cinsault, $60

This Temecula Valley Cinsault displays lively floral and ripe strawberry aromas on the nose, and a lush, warm palate balanced by an elegant structure. A perfect food wine, pair this with pizza, pasta, cheese and charcuterie.

2016 Leoness Cellars Cellar Selection Cinsaut, $28

This bottling is bursting with aromas of cherry and raspberry with hints of black licorice and spice. The wine is soft, elegant and approachable thanks to the addition of a light touch of Syrah & Grenache and 18 months spent in small French Oak barrels.

The Grape: Cabernet Franc

What it’s like: Cabernet Franc is actually one of Cabernet Sauvignon’s parents (the other being Sauvignon Blanc), and yet it is often overlooked in favor of its more famous offspring. Known for its role in Bordeaux blends, it stands alone quite well, offering savory notes of bell pepper, green herbs, graphite, berry fruit and cedar

Why we love it: Cabernet Franc has the benefit of being both age-worthy and drinkable now. Its medium-bodied structure makes it a great food wine, but it also holds up to serious oak treatment quite well, giving it a wide range of different possible styles depending on how it is handled. 

Some to try:

2016 Baily Winery Cabernet Franc, $35

Baily Winery is known for their traditional, Old World take on winemaking 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, or put away for several years to let it develop.

2015 Thornton Cabernet Franc, $41

Notes of crushed raspberries, black currants, violet and graphite are prominent on the nose, backed by a pleasant green bell pepper note. This Cabernet Franc is medium-bodied with well-integrated tannins and a smooth mouthfeel.

2016 Hart Winery Cabernet Franc, $28

A balanced wine with crisp acidity and bright fruit reminiscent of Cabernet Franc wines from France’s Loire Valley. Notes of green olive, clove, raspberry and violet on the nose are followed by tart berry fruit and licorice, backed by firm, elegant tannins on the palate.

Share your favorite Temecula Valley wine picks for Fall! Tag us @temeculawines using the hashtag #DrinkTemecula.

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So, You Want to Be A Winemaker?

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

You sit down to dinner and uncork a beautiful bottle of 2014 Syrah. As you swirl and sip, you start to imagine life as a winemaker. The romance of waking up on a cool September morning, opening your blinds and looking out onto your perfectly manicured vineyards. The satisfaction of tending to your vines, watching them flourish, and ultimately fermenting and bottling the grapes for your family dinner table.

Think you’ve got what it takes?

We sat down with some of Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country’s local rockstars – our winemakers – to ask them what really goes into producing the delicious wines that we simply get to open and enjoy. From grueling hours to the infamous “black hands” to strange harvest rituals, they gave us the good, the bad and the ugly on what it takes to be a winemaker during harvest.

Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association: What does a typical day during harvest look like?

Greg Pennyroyal, Vineyard Manager, Wilson Creek Winery: It is Monday at 11: 30 PM. My crew shows up in 30 minutes. We will harvest Viognier until dawn because that is what is best for wine quality. Quality of life can wait until next year when this wine will be on my dinner table and hopefully yours. Some may say this is exceptional effort but for those of us who are possessed by the muse of Vitis Vinifera, it is the best way – no, the only way – to bring in the fruit that I have nurtured since last fall. People ask, “Why are you here in the middle of the night?” To which I quote Thoreau, “Why are you not here?”

Dakota Denton, Winemaker, Gershon Bachus Vintners: I wake up, put my boots on, and walk the vineyards in the cool of the morning. Then, it’s off to the cellar or crush pad for pump-overs and to crush more grapes. By the time this is done it is time to pull samples for the lab, a second set of pump overs and a beer to end the day. Then repeat!

Olivia Bue, Winemaker, Robert Renzoni Vineyards: First and foremost, attire: Jeans (even if it’s 100° F out), old t-shirt (stained with the previous vintage’s wine), steel toe boots (always make sure to shake out dirt and grape skins), big harvest hat…Oh, and of course our purple cracked hands.

Then the day consists of early morning vineyard visits to collect grape samples for analysis; hydrometer 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 (making sure to not get too close, lest we get hit with a CO2 bomb); and, most importantly, tasting each lot daily.

Once reds come in the real harvest bootcamp begins! This means pump-overs 3 times daily with at least 3 hours off in between. This involves sanitizing all hoses and pumps before and after each lot, making any necessary adjustments to the wine, and removing fallout seeds to minimize astringency. As the reds approach the end of alcoholic fermentation, it’s time to drain the tank of all its wine, leaving behind skins to get pressed out. To remove skins from the tank, we jump inside to shovel them out into the bins below the tank door. This is always a good workout!

TVWA: What is the hardest part of harvest?

DD: Waking up early.

OB: When my alarm goes off at 3 AM.

Gus Vizgirda, Winemaker, Wilson Creek Winery: The harvest has its many expected effects, such as exhaustion. But one that is seldom talked about is what I like to call the “Black Hand.” This happens when calloused hands come in contact with red grape juice. It is the natural condition of a winemaker during harvest. As much as “Black Hand“ is an honorable winemaking badge, it has disadvantages. My wife thinks it’s disgusting and makes me look dirty; and my grandchildren think that I have some sort of disease, avoiding my hugs. So, if you see me around during this time of the year with my hands in my pockets, understand this: I have “Black Hand.” I’m polite not to show it in public, but – believe me – in the privacy of my home late at night I look at my hands in wonderment and passionate pride, remembering the good times I had this Harvest… and longing for grandchildren’s hugs.

TVWA: What is your favorite part of harvest?

GV: Getting to the winery at 3 AM. I love to work in the morning and see the sunrise as we are pressing the grapes. I enjoy completing most of the work before the heat of the day.

OB: Processing grapes as the sun rises. And, when the last lot is pressed out; not because harvest is over but because I can finally look back and feel proud of all the blood, sweat and tears put into the vintage.

DD: The nonstop craziness from start to finish.

Joseph Wiens, Winemaker, Wiens Family Cellars: The change of pace is welcoming. We are busy bottling non-stop before crush to free up our tank space, so we look forward to getting back into the harvest season. This is also our first look at the new vintage. We’re excited to see the fruit that we’ve been watching mature on the vines finally come in for processing into wine.

TVWA: Do you have any harvest rituals – before, during or after?

DD: Every harvest I stop shaving (not saying I ever started).

OB: Happy hour at 9am.

JW: We have a rule that after our first 8 hours of work for the day, we can start cracking brews to get us through the remainder of the day.

Javier Flores, Winemaker, South Coast Winery & Carter Estate Winery: The Sunday before Harvest, I pray for a good crop and that no one gets hurt. A safe harvest is a good harvest. Then the very first day of Harvest we buy breakfast burritos for all the winemaking team members to celebrate the beginning. The very last day of Harvest we hang a plastic Skeleton with dates marking the start and finish of the harvest. Then the following Friday we have a super lunch at our winery, prepared by winemakers.

GV: I play my bugle at passing hot air balloons and play “Reveille” at sunrise for [Wilson Creek owners] Rosie and Gerry. The balloon passengers are always surprised.

TVWA: What is the craziest/scariest/funniest thing that has happened to you during harvest?

DD: Not knowing that a keg that it was still fermenting, I started to open it. After the second turn of the clamp, there was a loud bang (as if a shotgun had gone off right in front of me), and wine shot up to the ceiling, covering me from head to toe.

JW: A couple of years ago, we got a new press. We overloaded it with Zinfandel that had fallen apart (the skins didn’t hold up, and the whole lot looked more like a grape smoothie than wine). The Zin smoothie clogged up the drain holes in the press, and once the press started pressurizing, the wine had nowhere to go. The seals on the press broke open, and about 4 tons of purple slop poured out onto the crush pad. We frantically started trying to shovel it up, and soon decided it was a lost cause. We were up to our ankles with slop, and one of our workers made a snide remark. I flung a shovel full of slop at them, which devolved into a full-fledged Zin slop fight. It was a huge mess, and a bummer to lose some wine, but we laughed about it in the end, and learned the limitations of our new press!

TVWA: What is the timeline of a bottle of wine, from planting to uncorking it for dinner?

JW: It really depends on the wine. We will actually start bottling our 2018 white wines in early October. These early bottlings (like our dry rosés, Albariño and Pinot Grigio) have light, volatile aromatics that tend to flash off if we wait too long to bottle, so we try to capture that freshness as early as possible. We could be enjoying a nice, crisp rosé of Pinot Noir for dinner while we are still processing reds! Our red wines take anywhere from 1 to 4 years to make it onto our lists, as their aromas and flavors develop slowly with barrel ageing. Typically with newly planted vines, it is the “third leaf,” or third growing season, before we harvest any fruit. So, planting-to-uncorking could be as short as 4 years for our whites, to more than 40 for some of our old vine reds.

DD: Anywhere from 5 to 10 years depending on what kind of wine, and how long you are aging the wine in barrels and bottles.

Special thanks to the Temecula Valley winemakers who shared their harvest stories with us for this article.

Next time you uncork, take a moment to reflect on just what went into making that magical juice in your bottle, and give a toast to your local winemakers.

Happy harvest to winemakers all over the world, and happy California Wine Month to all.

Photo courtesy of Burlile Photography

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Thank a Winemaker Day!

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Thank a Winemaker Day!

Anatomy of Winemaker

Gus Viszgirda, Wilson Creek winemaker

A recent photo shared by Wilson Creek Winery, “The Anatomy of a Winemaker”, created by winemaker, Gus Viszgirda, certainly gave us all a laugh. But it also made us think…

Clearly, making great wine is a hands-on profession. And the picture truly illustrates what our winemakers look like to us on any given work day. Gone is the clean clothed, shiny shoe’d, wine sipping winemakers most of our visitors are accustomed to seeing. Most of the time, they’re rubber boot wearing, wine stained cellar dwellars who are dragging hoses, cleaning tanks and topping barrels – all which are part of a days work. Truth be told, most days you couldn’t slap the smile off their faces.  Winemaking truly is a labor of love!

So, in their honor, we’ve decided to declare today, “Thank A Winemaker” day! Let your favorite winemaker know how much you appreciate all the effort that goes into each bottle. Without their dedication, what would we be drinking???

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Last Day for Grape Day, April 21

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Keyways Vineyard & Winery; Thursday, April 21, 7:30am- 6pm

Grape Day is a one day conference featuring in-depth seminars on the latest advances and developments in viticulture and vineyard management. Winemakers, winery owners, vineyard managers, and anyone who is interested in the business of wine can attend this great event!

Purchase TICKETS here

See agenda below…

 

 

 

 

Agenda

7:30 – 8am  Vendor Exhibits, Registration, Continental Breakfast- Sponsored by Riverside Agricultural Supplies

8 – 8:15am  WelcomeJeff Wiens; Wiens Family Cellars, TVWA President, Ben Drake; Drake Enterprise, TVWA Viticulture Chair

8:15 – 8:30am  Temecula Area-Wide GWSS ProjectDr. Nick Toscano; Extension Specialist, Emeritus, College of Natural and Agricultural  Sciences, University of Riverside

8:30 – 9am  The Effectiveness of Within-Vineyard Sharpshooter Control for Limiting PD Spread Dr. Matthew Daugherty; Assistant Extension Specialist, UC Riverside

9 – 9:45am  Preventing Establishment of European Grapevine Moth Through Early Detection Dr. Walt Bentley; UC IPM Entomologist, UC Kearney Agricultural Center, Fresno County

9:45 – 10:30am  Designing a Cover Crop System for your Vineyard:  A Landscape Approach Dr. Glenn McGourty; Viticulture and Plant Science Advisor, UC Cooperative; Extension, Mendocino and Lake Counties

10:30 – 10:45am  Break, Vendor Exhibits

10:45 – 11:30am  Hang Time and Crop Forcing- Dr. Sanliang Gu; Professor of Viticulture and Ricchiuti Chair of Viticulture Research Fresno State University

11:30am – 12:15pm  State of the Wine IndustryPatrick Comiskey; Senior Correspondent, Wine & Spirits Magazine

12:15pm – 1pm  Lunch, Vendor ExhibitsSponsored by Labeltronix

1 – 1:45pm  Update on Powdery Mildew- Dr. Doug Gubler; Plant Pathology Department, UC Davis

1:45 – 2:30pm  Marketing and Social MediaPaul Mabray; Founder, VinTank – A Wine Industry Think Tank

2:30 – 2:45pm  Break, Vendor Exhibits

2:45 – 4:15pm  Finishing TanninsJose Santos; Business Director, Enartis Vinquiry

4:15 – 6pm Wine & Cheese Reception- Sponsored by Crop Production Services

Participating Vendors

AWC Packaging, American AgCredit, California Glass, Chart/Cryotech Intl., Duarte Nursery, Electrostatic Spraying Systems, Enartis Vinquiry, Guillaume Grapevine NurseryMicroworks Wine Software, NuEarth, PBM Supply & Mfg., Precision Agri-Lab, Pro Refrigeration, Inc. Riverside Agricultural Supplies, Soil Topography Information, Sunridge Nurseries, SunWize Technologies,Tonnellerie Radoux USA, Inc., Vineyard Industry Products, Vyant/Marfred Industries, WineWare Software Corp.

Thank you to the following sponsors:
Crop Production Services, Riverside, CA, Labeltronix, Orange, CA, Riverside Agricultural Supplies, Ontario, CA, My VIP Events, Canyon Lake, CA.



 

Dr. Doug Gubler
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