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Pop! Goes the Bottle: Your Temecula Valley Sparkling Wine Guide To Ring in the New Year

Thursday, December 23rd, 2021

Cheers to 2022!

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.

Méthode Traditionnelle

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.

Tank Method

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.  

Asti Method

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!

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A Duo of Delicious Spreads

Monday, December 20th, 2021

If you’re entertaining, these simple and delicious spreads might be just what you’re looking for. Serve these wine-friendly spreads individually or as a colorful duo with a basket of flatbread crackers, crostini or pita crisps. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Sparkling Wine or Sparkling Rosé.

A Duo of Delicious Spreads

Ingredients:

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper and Feta 

  • 1 large roasted red bell pepper, skinned and seeded 
  • 6 ounces (scant 1 cup/180 g) feta  
  • 1 large garlic clove 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • Hot red pepper and sea salt to taste 


Spinach, Cilantro and Tahini Spread 

  • 1 cup (1.5 oz/45 g) packed baby spinach leaves (no stems) 
  • ½ cup (65 g) frozen peas (no need to thaw) 
  • 1 green onion, white and pale green part only, sliced 
  • 6 to 8 sprigs cilantro, no thick stems 
  • 1 small garlic clove, sliced 
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) tahini 
  • Sea salt 
  • Lemon juice, as needed 


Directions:

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper and Feta 

In a food processor, puree all ingredients until fully blended. The mixture will be soft. Chill slightly to firm it. 

Spinach, Cilantro and Tahini Spread 

Put the spinach, peas, green onion, cilantro and garlic in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add the tahini and a large pinch of salt and blend until smooth. Taste for salt and add a few drops of lemon juice if needed to brighten the flavor. 

Suggested Pairings:

Callaway Winery ~ NV Sparkling Bella Rosé – Elegant in both color and flavor, this charming wine greets you with juicy peach aromas touched with spicy white pepper. 

South Coast Winery ~ Extra Dry Brut – Delicate apple and berry with toasty yeast notes.

Thornton Winery ~ NV Brut – A blend of primarily Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, giving our wine exciting, crisp fruit characters while taking on a clean and straightforward yeast flavor from the lengthy tirage time. 

Wilson Creek Winery ~ Rosé Sparkling Wine – Crisp, elegant and flavorful.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California.

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Maple Almond Shortbread Cookies

Friday, December 3rd, 2021

Maple Almond Shortbread Cookies

Indulge your sweet tooth with these Canadian-inspired maple almond shortbread cookies. Local maple syrup sweetens these easy and buttery cookies while sliced almonds provide a delicious savory crunch. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Chardonnay or Sparkling Wine.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup room temperature butter
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp Maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1/8 cup slivered or sliced almonds for topping after cookies are rolled and cut
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar or all-purpose flour for rolling

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees

Toss the 1/8 cup of slivered or sliced almonds into a small strainer over your mixing bowl.  Sprinkle the icing sugar over the almonds and mix until almonds are lightly coated, and sugar has fallen into the mixing bowl below. Set aside the sugar-coated almonds

Add butter, flour, maple syrup, and chopped almonds to icing sugar and mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated.

Cover with saran wrap or clean towel and place in refrigerator for 15 to 20 min.

Take the dough out and lightly dust the rolling surface with icing sugar or flour.

Roll dough out to about 2 mm thick and cut into desired shapes.  Transfer to a baking sheet lined with a piece of parchment paper or silicon sheet.

Sprinkle sugared almonds on top of cut cookies and bake for 10 to 15 min or until golden brown.

Suggested Pairings:

Altisima Winery ~ 2019 Chardonnay – Boasting strong oak aromatics, a creamy texture, and a butter finish.

Bottaia Winery ~ 2019 Spumante – This 2019 vintage Spumante was made in the Cremant style lending both bright acidity with a balanced creaminess.

Lorenzi Estate Winery ~ 2019 Chardonnay – This chardonnay offers nuances of slightly toasted oak, meyer lemon, vanilla and pineapple.  

Wilson Creek Winery ~ Brut Sparkling Wine -Light and refreshing, and very fun!

Recipe and photo courtesy of The Wine Institute of California

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December Winery Events

Friday, December 3rd, 2021

Cheers to the New Year!

Danza del Sol Winery
Wine & Waffles Brunch Buffet | December 4, 11:00am-1:00pm | Join us at the Club House where we will have a Waffle Bar, and Mimosa bar. Bottomless mimosas add-on available. General Admission $22 | Wine Club $18. Reservations Required www.danzadelsolwinery.com      

A California Holiday Feast | December 5, 11:00am-2:00pm | Celebrate the holiday with our Ugly Sweater Event & Contest! Southfork Catering will be serving a winter BBQ feast. Live music by The Frank Guy. Wine Club Members: $20 | General Admission: $25. Reservations required www.danzadelsolwinery.com    

Foot Path Winery
Tamale Making Class
| December 11th & 18th, 10am-3pm | Cost $50 | Learn the art of the Tamale. Instructions, participation, and taste testing. You will take home a dozen tamales and written instructions.     

Filo/Phyllo Dough Class | December 12, 10am-3pm | $50. Learning how to handle the filo, how to create Baklava and a savory filo Spanakopita. You will take home recipes, instructions and 1/8 sheet of Baklava.

For more info on both these events and to make reservations, please call 951-764-1849 Chris or Email deanefoote@verizon.net.

Lorimar Vineyards & Winery
Tribute Thursday- Stevie Nicks Illusion | December 2, doors open at 6pm, show starts at 7pm |To make reservations please call 951-694-6699 x109 or visit: https://shop.lorimarwinery.com/res-414053/Stevie-Nicks-Illusion.html  

Annual Santa Dinner | December 5, 5:00pm-8:00pm | Santa will read “Twas the night before Christmas”, cookie decorating kits for kids, tickets include admission and dinner- Adults $35/31.50WC, Children $20/18WCC https://shop.lorimarwinery.com/res-414251/Santa-Dinner.html

We Belong- Pat Benatar Tribute Night | December 16, Doors open at 6pm, show starts at 7pm | To make reservations please call 951-694-6699 x109 or visit: https://shop.lorimarwinery.com/res-414168/We-Belong-Tribute-To-Pat-Benatar-And-Neil-Giraldo.html

Smoke & Vine- An evening of Cigars and Wine | December 17, 7:00pm-9:00pm | $125/$110WC  https://shop.lorimarwinery.com/res-414246/Rhapsody-Of-Reds-Appreciation-Dinner-Nov-17th.html

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa
Winemaker’s Dinner
| December 9, 5:00pm | Guests are in for a delicious treat that has been skillfully crafted by our culinary team and carefully paired with wines. For additional information and to purchase your tickets please use this link: https://store.wineresort.com/winemaker-s-dinner-thursday-december-9th-wd1209?returnurl=%2fevents%2f

Christmas at The Vineyard Rose Restaurant | We will be offering a limited menu featuring both regular menu items as well as Traditional Holiday cuisine. Reservations are recommended: https://www.southcoastwinery.com/dining/christmas
Christmas Eve | Friday, December 24th
Regular Breakfast Menu | 8am – 11:00am
Regular Lunch Menu | 11:30am – 3:00pm
Christmas Dinner Menu | 5:30 – 9:00pm

Christmas Day | Saturday, December 25th
Regular Brunch Menu | 8am – 3:00pm
Christmas Dinner Menu | 5:30 – 9:00pm

New Year’s Eve Concert & Party | December 31, Doors open at 8:00pm | Live concert by Sebastian Sidi 9:00pm-11:00pm, DJ & Dancing 11pm-12:30pam | Starting at $85 per person, VIP Seating available for $125 per person |Includes sparkling wine toast & late-night lite bites | Tickets required and must be purchase in advance on our online store. Information including menu is available online: www.southcoastwinery.com/nye

New Year’s Eve Dinner at The Vineyard Rose Restaurant | December 31, 5:30pm-9:00pm | Special Prix Fixe Menu, $85 per person exclusive of drinks, taxes & gratuity | Reservations required via Open Table | Dinner Menu Available Online: www.southcoastwinery.com/dining/nye

Wilson Creek Winery
New Year’s Eve Party | December 31 7:30pm-12:30am | Let’s ring in 2022 together! Join us for an elegant night as you dance the night away complete with three-course handcrafted plated dinner, open bar, dessert bar and more! Make a reservation at www.WilsonCreekWinery.com 

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time – and Wine – of the Year

Friday, December 3rd, 2021

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.

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November Winery Events

Friday, November 5th, 2021

Fun Fall Events!

There’s a chill in the air now and suddenly we’re planning holiday meals! Whether your holiday plans keep you close to home or off visiting relatives, plan to sneak in a trip to Temecula Valley Wine Country to stock up on your favorite wine, or attend one of the great events going on in wine country!

De Portola Wine Trail
The DWT “Harvest Celebration” | November 7th from 10:00am to 5:00pm | Featuring noshes from 10 local artisan chefs, each offering their specialty. Every sample is expertly paired with three wines from each of the following wineries: Cougar Vineyard & Winery, Danza del Sol Winery, Fazeli Cellars, Frangipani Winery, Gershon Bachus Vintners, Leoness Cellars, Masia de la Vinya Winery, Oak Mountain Winery, Robert Renzoni Vineyards & Somerset Winery. For a carefree day without driving, hop on the special Harvest Shuttle provided by Grapeline Wine Tours, with pickups at hotels and many vacation rentals. Or charter a private vehicle for parties of 2 to 40, including Grapeline’s unique 18-passenger convertible Mercedes Sprinter. For more information and to purchase your tickets please visit https://www.deportolawinetrail.com/festivals-and-events

Europa Village Winery & Resorts
Salsa Nights at Bolero | November 2; 7pm-10p | Tickets: $15 Gen Admission; Members $12 | Includes one glass of wine, beer, or Sangria | Calling all hombres and mujeres! Dust off your dancing shoes and join us on La Plaza at Bolero for an exhilarating night of Salsa dancing. Featuring live music by Kimba Light, Salsa lessons, Spanish wines, and tasty tapas | RSVP today – limited tickets available! Guest must be at least 21 years of age and present a valid government issued photo ID at the door. Purchase tickets at https://shop.europavillage.com/Shop/Events/Salsa-Nights

Thanksgiving Brunch Buffet | November 25th | 11am – 4pm | Adults: $79; Members: $71.10, Children: $39; Members: $35.10 |Europa Village’s culinary brigade is bringing the heat this Thanksgiving with a fantastic brunch buffet featuring traditional holiday flare and other Spanish favorites at Bolero Restaurante. Don’t miss out on this incredible feast that will leave no one hungry | For reservations please call us at 951.414.3802. Reservations required | **All guests will be required to provide a credit card to make a reservation. Reservations that are canceled within 24hrs will incur a $25 per cancellation fee**

Foot Path Winery
Sweet & Savory Phyllo Dough Classes
| November 20th 10:00am-3:00pm | $50pp | For those of you who wish to know the art of the Phyllo come join us in one of the instruction classes held at Foot Path Winery. Just in time for holiday parties. What you will learn: Phyllo dough do’s and don’ts, the art of Baklava and Spanakopita making. Recipes and instruction information will be handed out at each class. Along with where to purchase the phyllo dough you require for your project. Two classes will be held one in November and one in December and limited to 16 ppl. You will work with a team and each member will help with the preparation of the baklava. There will be sampling of the items made that day | Included with your fee will be an eight sheet of Baklava prepared the day of the class to take home, along with information and butter brush | You can secure your spot, online or by sending in the class fee by November 13, 2021 to Foot Path Winery, 36650 Glenoaks Rd., Temecula, CA 92592 or if you are in Wine Country, you can come by the winery and make payment via Credit Card. Call Chris at 951-764-1849 or Email – deanefoote@verizon.net for additional questions or reservation | Call and reserve your spot on the assembly line….dancing is not required!

Tamale Making Classes – Pork Tamales with Red Chile | November 27th 10:00am-3:00pm | $50pp | For those of you who wish to know the art of the Tamale come join us in one of the instruction classes held at Foot Path Winery. Fee includes a dozen take home tamales prepared at class with written information. Learn masa, sauce, meat, and corn husk preparation and most of all, where to purchase your ingredients for the Tamales. Three classes will be held one in November and two in December | Class size is limited to 20 people. Based on the quantity of people we will either have teams of 4 or 5. Tamale making is an assembly process…did anyone say TEQUILLA! | You can secure your spot, online or by sending in the class fee by November 20, 2021 to Foot Path Winery, 36650 Glenoaks Rd., Temecula, CA 92592 or if you are in Wine Country, you can come by the winery and make payment via Credit Card. Call Chris at 951-764-1849 or Email – deanefoote@verizon.net for additional questions or reservation | Call and reserve your spot on the assembly line….dancing is not required! 

Peltzer Family Cellars
Peltzer Ice Rink Opening Day on November 15
| The rink will be open from 11-15-21 through 1-30-2022 | Please visit www.peltzerwinery.com for reservations!

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa
Winemakers Dinner
| November 18 starts at 5:00pm | Guests are in for a delicious treat that has been skillfully crafted by our culinary team and carefully paired with wines. https://store.wineresort.com/winemaker-s-dinner-thursday-november-18th-wd1118?returnurl=%2fevents%2f

Thanksgiving at The Vineyard Rose Restaurant | Restaurant will be offering a limited menu featuring both regular menu items as well traditional Thanksgiving cuisine starting at 11:30AM. Please visit this link for more reservation and additional information https://www.southcoastwinery.com/dining/thanksgiving

Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Festival | November 28th | 5:00pm – 8:00pm | Adults $50, Children $25 (4-10yrs) Children under 3 & under are free | This event is full of activities for the entire family to enjoy. Tickets include buffet dinner, Christmas Carolers, Horse Drawn Trolley & Tractor Rides, Face Painting & Crafts, Photos with Santa, and of course Tree Lighting!  For tickets, please visit https://www.southcoastwinery.com/tree-lighting

Wilson Creek Winery
Mixology Wine Experience | November 4th | 11:00am-1:00pm | Plan a visit to Wilson Creek Winery to join us for an hour of interactive session of learning and sampling some of our most popular wine cocktails. Tickets from $25.00-$35.00. For tickets, please visit www.wilsoncreekwinery.com

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Four Must-Have Temecula Valley Wines for Your Thanksgiving Dinner Table

Friday, November 5th, 2021

Thanksgiving Cheer

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.

BUBBLES

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.

A few to try:

Oak Mountain Winery Sparkling Pinotage, Temecula Valley, $34

Bottaia Rosé Spumante, Temecula Valley, $45

Carter Estate Blanc de Blanc, Temecula Valley, $41

VIOGNIER

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.

A few to try:

Leoness Cellars Cellar Series Viognier, Temecula Valley, $29

Falkner Winery Viognier, Temecula Valley, $40

Monte de Oro Viognier, Temecula Valley, $23

MONTEPULCIANO

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.

A few to try:

Robert Renzoni Vineyards Montepulciano, Temecula Valley, $49

Fazeli Cellars Montepulciano, Temecula Valley, $50

Cougar Estate Cask Montepulciano, Temecula Valley, $50

SHERRY-STYLE WINES

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 few to try:

Raúl Ramirez Bodegas y Viñedos Bandido, $45

Mount Palomar Winery Solera Cream Sherry, Temecula Valley, $29

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Mushroom, Kale & Butternut Squash Pasta

Friday, October 1st, 2021

Mushroom, Kale & Butternut Squash Pasta

As the weather turns chilly and the crisp autumn air has us gathering around a warm fire at night, this comfort food dish will be a sure hit that it will have you making it again and again. This Autumn-inspired pasta showcases the best of the harvest season and pairs perfectly with a loaf of fresh crusty bread. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped oyster mushrooms or shitake
  • 1/2 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup diced white onion
  • 2 cups shredded kale
  • 1 cup small of diced butternut squash
  • 2 oz white wine
  • 2 cups 35% cream
  • 1 cup shredded smoked gouda cheese
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 6 cups cooked bowtie pasta
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds

Directions:

  1. In a large frying pan (big enough for all ingredients) heat butter.
  2. Cook onions, garlic, and diced squash on medium heat until onions are soft and starting to brown.
  3. Add mushrooms and cook on medium for about 5 min.
  4. Add white wine and stir. The wine should clean the bottom of the pan up and incorporate all that goodness.
  5. Add kale, cream, cheese salt, and pepper. Cook till cheese is melted and kale is wilted slightly. (Approx 3 min)
  6. Add pre-cooked noodles and toss together. Cook for another 3 min on medium to re-heat noodles.
  7. Serve and top with toasted almonds and chopped green onions.

Suggested Pairings:

Bel Vino Winery ~ 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon – Bold & smooth. This elegant wine has aromas & flavors of blackberry, blueberry & Dried cherry.

Foot Path Winery ~ 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon – This wine’s delicious full-body gives it the qualities that makes it so beloved worldwide. This wine can be enjoyed in its youthful stage or when it is aged to perfection.

Lorimar Winery ~ 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon – Truly the holy grail of wine, with complexity to spare; perfumes of black plums, medjool dates, root beer leaf and cedar mingled with black peppercorn and the weathered leather of a whip.

Ponte Winery ~ 2017 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – Red berry mix aromas and a touch of roasted red pepper, black pepper and a touch of cedar at the finish with graphite.

Recipe & photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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October Winery Events

Friday, October 1st, 2021

Grab your friends for a fun fall event!

Akash Winery
Comedy Night | October 8 |$25 per person | Food Tuck onsite. Member discounts apply | Purchase online at www.akashwinery.com/events 

Mystery Kitchen | October 15 | $150 + tax per person| Join Chef Daniel from Naughty Pig and Chef Dylan from Soros Mediterranean Grill & Savage Chef Kitchens | Purchase online at www.akashwinery.com/events

Danza del Sol Winery
Harvest Dinner
| October 17 | 5:00pm start, sparkling reception begins at 4:30pm | Members $90; Guests $105 | Chef Jillian Fae has designed a delicious four coursed meal paired with some of your best loved Danza wines. This dinner is to be set as a semi-formal event and will have vegetarian options upon request.

Movie Night in the Vines | October 23 | 5:30pm – 9:00pm | Members $10; General $12; Kids Under 12 are free. Wine Club Comps Not Applicable During Event. All ages welcome!

Europa Village Winery & Resorts
CarnEvil Halloween Ball | October 28  7:00pm-10:00pm | Tickets: $89 / Members $80.10. Includes admission, food stations, and one glass of wine. Costumes required for entry. Must be 21 and older |Transport yourself into the eerie streets of Venice with our twisted take on Carnival. Join us for Europa’s 1st Annual Halloween event, CarnEvil Ball, where you’ll enjoy a curated selection of craft cocktails in our Spookeasy, ghoulish delights, DJ, a costume contest, and much more! Don’t miss out on this spine-chilling event. Purchase your advance tickets at https://bit.ly/2XK7izw

Salsa Nights at Bolero |Tuesday Nights October 5 & 19; 7pm-10p | Tickets: $15 Reg.; Members $12. Includes one glass of wine, beer, or Sangria | Calling all hombres and mujeres! Dust off your dancing shoes and join us on La Plaza at Bolero for an exhilarating night of Salsa dancing. Featuring live music by Kimba Light, Salsa lessons, Spanish wines, and tasty tapas | RSVP today – limited tickets available! Guest must be at least 21 years of age and present a valid government issued photo ID at the door. Purchase tickets at https://shop.europavillage.com/Shop/Events/Salsa-Nights

Falkner Winery
Wicked Wine Bash
| October 22 | 7:00p-10:00p | $20 per person/ $10 for Falkner Wine Club Members and Industry | Come dressed in your Halloween costume for our costume contest where the winner will receive $250 in prizes! Live Music by Lifetime Rocker will be rockin’ the house with some spooky classic rock music! Entry fee includes a glass of Spiked Sangria or cup of our Hot Lips mulled wine. Wine by the bottle or glass, and beer will be available for purchase. Tables will be first come, first served. This event is 21+ only. Physical tickets will not be needed as we will have your names on a list at the door. Tickets are pre-sale only. Link for tickets https://store.falknerwinery.com/events–classes-c19.aspx . Purchase your tickets today!

Lorimar Vineyards & Winery
Killer Dueling Pianos
| October 21 | 6:00p-9:00p | Tickets are $30; Wine Club $27 | www.Lorimarwinery.com

Halloween Party | October 29 | 7:00-11:00p | Tickets are $25; Wine Club $20 | www.Lorimarwinery.com

Masia de la Vinya Winery
Pumpkin Succulent Craft Event
| October 3 | 11:00am-1:30pm |$55 includes instruction by Pinot’s Palette, materials, & complimentary glass of wine or fall sangria. Please visit www.masiadelavinya.com  to reserve your spot.

Peltzer Family Cellars
HalloWine Party
| October 30 | 7pm-10pm, 21+ only | $25 per ticket inlcudes a glass of Witch’s Brew Sangria, DJ, food truck eats, costume contest with prizes. Reserve at Peltzerwinery.com

Pumpkin Painting for the kiddos every Tuesday/Thursday of October | $20 per ticket, includes pumpkin, all materials to paint, and entry to farm |Reserve at peltzerwinery.com.

Peltzer Pumpkin Farm open daily | Mon-Friday $2 entry, Sat-Sunday $3 entry. Attractions vary in cost Pumpkin Picking, train rides, gem panning, petting zoo, carnival games, pony rides, mini–John Deere carts.

Raul Ramirez Bodegas y Vinedos
Hispanic Heritage Event | October 14 | 1:00pm to 4:00pm | $75.00 ticket |Dancing Andalusian Horse Show – Pairing Argentinian Empanadas – Live Latin music | to reserve pleas click HERE for more information

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Move Over Pumpkin Spice; We’ve Got Delicious Fall Wines

Friday, October 1st, 2021

While we realize seasonal transitions in Southern California aren’t always so obvious – sunny and 85 degrees to sunny and 79 degrees, for example – we still don’t like to miss out on the festive changes we associate with the weather getting crisper and the days getting shorter.

Beautiful Fall Vineyard

One of these changes is, of course, reaching for those fantastic in-between wines that mark the Fall season. You know the ones – the rich, nutty Chardonnay instead of the bright and fresh Pinot Grigio; the light-bodied red packed with juicy red fruit instead of the salmon-colored rosé.

It’s not holiday season yet, and we’re still not ready to move into cold weather wines, but pumpkin spice has started creeping into everything, and we find ourselves eyeing those cozy sweaters in the back of the closet. In celebration, we have compiled a guide to some of our favorite wine for transitioning into cooler Fall weather.

BOLD WHITES

Peltzer Family Cellars Chardonnay

Says Pelzer Tasting Room Manager Danae Wager, “The transition from summer to Fall is not always smooth (like we insist our wines to be). As the weather cools off, we love to feature our Chardonnay with any dish that would typically be paired with a lighter bodied red wine to ease the transition in temperature.”

This robust Chardonnay boasts notes of yellow apple, apricot, and lemon meringue pie and is perfect for homemade Fall soups. Think: roasted butternut squash or loaded baked potato soup to warm the palate. 

Fazeli Cellars Oaked Chardonnay

This luscious white is aged on the lees in French and Hungarian oak barrels for eight months. It exudes all that one expects from a classic California Chardonnay, with notes of Fuji apples, pear, pineapple, and prominent warm, toasty oak notes on the finish.

Leoness Cellars Viognier

“Fall in Temecula seems to be staying warmer and warmer!” Says Leoness Cellars Executive Director, Spencer Szczygiel. “Around this time of year, I’ll often reach for a white wine with a little more weight to it – our Leoness Viognier being a favorite.”

He explains that the Viognier’s stone fruit and spice notes pair exceptionally well with heartier fall salads like peppery greens with apple, blue cheese, nuts and grilled chicken – which are great if you want to avoid turning on the oven during the lingering Southern California Fall heat.

 Europa Village Estate Arneis

Showing complex yet light and airy aromas of honey, wild herbs, water chestnut, and pear skin, this golden-colored wine immediately draws the attention of the taster. This is a rich and very full-bodied wine, with flavors of apricot, pear, and a slight nuttiness like honey-dipped cashews, that carry this wine through a long and harmonious finish – just like the slow transition from Summer to Fall in the beautiful Temecula Valley.

HEARTY REDS:

Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery Monastrell

This is a lighter red wine with hints of cherry and cedar, making it perfect for a sunset charcuterie board or even a fish dish, as well as classic options like chicken and pasta. This is the ideal red on a warm day when something rich and velvety doesn’t feel quite right.

Peltzer Family Cellars Estate Sangiovese

This medium-bodied Sangiovese is packed with maraschino cherries, pomegranate, allspice, and violet. It’s a great wine for Thanksgiving, with the red fruit notes enhancing the traditional turkey dinner flavors. “You may need more than one bottle to satisfy the in-laws!” jokes Tasting Room Manager Danae.

Chapin Family Vineyards Montepulciano  

This wine is the perfect choice if you’re looking for an elegant, light-bodied red, packed with an abundance of aromas and flavors of cherry, blackberry, currant, and fresh herbs, with soft, round tannins, and a smooth, dry finish. Pair this with a backyard sunset as the cool evening breezes set in.

Fazeli Cellars Megregan

“Mehregan” is the Persian harvest festival celebrating the Autumn solstice. This earthy Grenache (with a touch of Shiraz) lovely to sip as we prepare for winter and toast to the close of our long summer days. It’s got bright Bing cherry cola and anise notes and a medium body, with soft supple tannins on the finish.  

Lorimar Winery Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre

This quintessential Rhône Valley-style blend is the perfect wine for the cooler fall months, boasting aromas of red currant, ripe plum, cocoa and a pleasant touch of Red Vines.

Wilson Creek Winery Cinsault

This bright, vibrant sipper is the ultimate light red wine for this time of year. When grown and harvested in Temecula Valley, Cinsault features all the fall fruit flavors from cherries to berries to complement the comfort foods of the season.

Leoness Cellars Grenache

A blend of 78% Grenache, 14% Syrah, 8% mourvedre, and aged in French and American oak barrels for 18 months, this wine is medium-bodied with aromas and flavors of raspberries and cherries complemented by hints of tobacco, earth, and spice leading into a soft, lengthy finish.

“During this unique transition between seasons, my favorite wine is our 2017 Grenache,” says Leoness Director of Hospitality Leonard Grose. “With its lighter body and vibrant rhubarb and clove hints on the nose and palate, this wine is perfect for a hearty fall chicken soup with lentils, carrots, and celery.”

Europa Village Primitivo

This jewel-toned Primitivo dazzles with aromas of raspberry crème, cherry liqueur, and autumn leaves. On the palate it stays true to the Puglian style, balancing fresh acidity and a pleasant jamminess, with flavors of black cherry, and smooth, well-integrated tannins. This is the perfect wine to enjoy as the sun sets a bit earlier and the twilight beckons us to enjoy the lovely fall weather.

A LITTLE SOMETHING SWEET

Bel Vino Winery Late Harvest Blanc

Grapes harvested later in the season have a chance to develop rich, ripe aromas and accumulate high sugar levels. When pressed and vinified the resulting wines are lusciously sweet and make a stellar pairing for salty cheeses and dessert courses – or can serve as dessert course themselves!

“What better way to experience fall, than with a late-harvested, intensely flavorful and aromatic Late Harvest Blanc,” says Mike Janko from Bel Vino Winery. “The relatively high sugar levels balanced by bright acidity make it great for sipping or to be enjoyed as a dessert wine.”

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