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Welcoming Guests Back ~ Safely & Responsibly

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020

Temecula Valley Wine Country

The safety of visitors, loyal customers and staff of Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country is our greatest priority. With the sudden global spread of the COVID-19 virus, we are trying our best to keep our guests and employees safe and appreciate your understanding of new policies and processes. We appreciate your patience while we navigate this “new normal.”

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors announced that the Governor’s office approved a variance that would allow “Dine-In-Restaurants” to re-open in our County. The Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) has defined that “dine-in restaurants” includes restaurants and brewpubs, as well as supplier licensees that permit tasting and/or private events (such as wineries, breweries, and craft distillers). While our wineries are still not allowed to offer any sort of wine tasting on property, they will be allowed to sell glasses of wine and bottles of wine, as long as their guests purchase a meal provided by the winery restaurant, a licensed caterer or a food truck. 

While this is much welcome news, many of our wineries will need some time to transition into this new way of doing business and to ensure that they are following the health and safety guidelines set forth by the State of California and Riverside County.  Many of the wineries have reduced their capacity and are requiring reservations. We will be keeping our website current with information that we receive from the wineries as to their operating hours at this time.  However, please contact the winery you wish to visit prior to visiting to ensure you’re aware of their policies and procedures. Please click HERE for a list and information on current winery operating hours and requirements prior to your visit.

Thank you, wine-loving friends, for your continued support of our Temecula Valley wineries and we look forward to welcoming you back!

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ALMOND MERINGUE TORTE WITH STRAWBERRIES AND RICOTTA CREAM

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020

Almond Meringue Torte

Like strawberry shortcake but more elegant, this layered dessert needs to rest for a few hours before slicing to soften the crunchy meringue. It keeps for about a day so you can serve half for dinner and enjoy the other half for a decadent breakfast the next morning. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Muscat/Moscato or Riesling.

Serves 8

Ingredients
Meringue:

  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • Pinch salt
  • ½ cup (100 g) sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 6 tablespoons (45 g) finely ground toasted almonds (see Note)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour


Filling:

  • ¾ pound (350 g) whole-milk ricotta
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon brandy
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy cream, whipped to firm peaks
  • ¾ pound (350 g) strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon brandy
  • 1 tablespoon finely ground raw (unroasted) pistachios, for garnish
  • Mint sprig and sliced strawberry, optional garnish


Directions

Make the meringue: Preheat two ovens to 350°F (180°C) or position two racks in the upper third and bottom third of one oven. Line two heavy rimmed baking sheets with parchment and trace three 7-1/2-inch (19-cm) circles on the paper in pencil, two circles on one sheet and one on the other. Flip the parchment over so the batter will not touch the pencil marks.

In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, whip the egg whites and salt on medium-high speed until foamy. Add the sugar gradually, then the almond extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then raise the speed to high and whip until the sugar has completely dissolved and the meringue stands in firm peaks when the whisk is lifted.

Remove the bowl from the mixer. Gently fold in the almonds, then the butter, then the flour.

Divide the mixture evenly among the traced circles and spread into evenly thick 7-1/2-inch (19-cm) rounds. Bake until golden-brown and no longer sticky to the touch, 18 to 20 minutes. If you are using one oven, shift the position of the baking sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.

Remove the baking sheets from the oven and lift the parchment sheets onto a cooling rack. When the meringue tortes are completely cool, carefully peel away the parchment. Don’t worry if they stick a little bit.

Make the filling: In a food processor, blend the ricotta, sugar, brandy, and vanilla until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and gently fold in the whipped cream.

In a bowl, combine the strawberries, sugar, and brandy. Toss gently and let stand 5 minutes.

Place one meringue on a cake stand or platter that will fit in the refrigerator. Top with one-third of the ricotta filling, spreading it evenly to the edges. Arrange half of the berries in an even layer on top of the ricotta. Top with another and half of the remaining ricotta filling, spreading it to the edges. Top the ricotta with the remaining berries in an even layer, then place the third macaroon on top. Spread the remaining ricotta filling on top of the torte, then cover with a cake dome and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 1 day.

Just before serving, garnish the top with the ground pistachios and, if desired, with a mint sprig and sliced strawberry.

NOTE: Toast whole raw almonds in a 325°F (160°C) oven until golden inside, about 25 minutes. Let cool, then grind fine in a nut grinder or food processor.

Suggested Pairings:

Baily Winery ~ 2017 Riesling – This cool and crisp white wine is perfect on a summer day, enjoy it poolside with friends and family!

Europa Village ~ 2016 Muscat Canelli – Aromas and flavors of peach, apricot and orange blossom with a nicely balanced residual sugar.

Maurice Car’rie Winery ~ 2017 Moscato – 100% Muscat Canelli, shows delicious floral and fruity flavors of mango, peach and apricot.

Somerset Winery ~ 2019 Riesling – This beautifully light and aromatic wine is floral on the nose and offers notes of spicy cinnamon, baked apples, kiwi and pears.


Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California


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A Reflection on The Past Few Months And A Big Thank You to Our Consumers

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020

As Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country begins the slow and careful process of welcoming visitors back to wineries and restaurants safely after this long break, we are all taking a minute to reflect on what the past few months have taught us, and what the future holds for our wine region.

Here are the top three things we have learned:

  1. Temecula Valley is resilient.
    From its humble start as a one-stop-sign town to its current status as one of the world’s top wine destinations, Temecula Valley has come through a lot in its relatively short 52-year history. The region has battled drought years, a near extinction thanks to a nefarious vineyard pest in the 90s, tough competition from other wine regions, and now a major shut-down that has been particularly hard for a place that relies on visitation to stay afloat.

    And yet Temecula Valley always seems to emerge stronger than ever. Much like the Pierce’s Disease situation that nearly wiped us out forced us to invest in the research and tools to transform vine planting, grape growing and winemaking in the region, so has the current situation surrounding the pandemic encouraged us to regroup and find new and creative ways to reach our customers.

    The people of Temecula Valley are light on their feet when it comes to pivoting, and it is one of the biggest keys to our resilience. Many of you have probably taken part in the dozens of virtual wine tastings our wineries have been hosting, or taken advantage of the great packages and partner offers that they have pulled together for customers. Many of you have watched as our winemakers and tasting room staff have taken their cameras and laptops to the vineyards and barrel rooms, offering virtual tours and the chance to get to know them better. This nimbleness is what has allowed us to keep your wine country alive through these challenging times.

    We know we will be faced with other obstacles in our future. And we know we will band together to come through them as we always do – stronger than ever.

  2. Our community is all heart.
    Almost without exception, the moment the stay at home orders were announced, our wineries started to not only figure out ways to support their employees in the face of layoffs and furloughs, but they found ways to give back to the community as well.

    South Coast Winery Resort & Spa and Carter Estate Winery and Resort contributed 50% of online wine sales to provide food and other provisions to furloughed staff members. Fazeli Cellars took 50% of the proceeds from bottles of their 2014 Mehregan and 2018 Norooz sold to go directly back to employees to help with expenses. Leoness Cellars and others created similar programs.

    Mount Palomar Winery not only did a social media promotion for healthcare workers, but they also donated bulk wine to several distilleries to create hand sanitizers.

    Robert Renzoni Vineyards, who had to furlough 40 of their 47 employees as a result of the shelter in place orders, began selling “Employee Support Packs,” with 50% of the proceeds going back to their employees. The Renzoni family also donated 50 generously sized hams for employees to pick up, along with a bottle of wine.

    Doffo Winery organized weekly grocery boxes for their team, while Palumbo Winery donated several cases to the Cocina Urbana group in San Diego and to Goat and Vine in Temecula to give to chefs and wait staff who had been furloughed.

    Wilson Creek Winery donated 50,000 wine tasting tickets (to the tune of $1.25 million) to healthcare workers in Riverside and San Diego for redemption once they are back open.  They also donated 1,000 bottles to Temecula Valley Hospital.

    Peltzer Family Cellars donated 300 bottles to the Temecula Valley hospital healthcare workers.

    This is just a handful of ways our community has stepped up and given back during the COVID-19 pandemic. No matter how tough things get, we always look out for each other, and other communities in need.

  3. Our friends and fans are loyal… and the only reason we are all still here today.
    These past few months have been tough on everyone. But your support – whether it was maintaining your wine club membership, joining us for virtual tastings, ordering wines online or over the phone, engaging with us on social media, or simply reaching out to say hi – has gotten us through this.

We cannot thank you enough for your ongoing loyalty to our wineries and the Temecula Valley region in general, and we cannot wait to see your smiling faces back in our tasting rooms and restaurants hopefully very soon.

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SHRIMP FRIED RICE WITH ASPARAGUS, LEEKS, AND ALMONDS

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

Shrimp Fried Rice

California asparagus make this stir-fry especially colorful, fresh, and fit for spring. For a vegetarian version, substitute firm tofu for the shrimp. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio.

Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 for a side dish

Ingredients

1 dozen medium to large shrimp, about ½ pound (225 g), peeled and deveined
Kosher or sea salt
1/2 pound (225 g) medium asparagus
4 tablespoons (60 ml) peanut oil
4 large eggs, lightly beaten with ¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups (200 g) thinly sliced leeks, white and pale green parts only
4 cups (1 l) cold cooked medium-grain rice
1/3 cup (35 g) toasted slivered almonds
1 tablespoon Chinese sesame oil with red chili
1 cup (15 g) whole cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish

Directions

Season the shrimp with ½ teaspoon salt and set aside.

To trim the asparagus, hold each spear horizontally between both hands and bend it. It will snap naturally at the point at which the spear becomes tough. Discard the tough ends. Slice the spears on the diagonal about ½-inch (1 cm) wide, leaving the tips whole.

Heat a wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates on contact. Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil and swirl to coat the wok. Add the shrimp and stir-fry until they just turn pink; leave them slightly underdone as they will cook further when stir-fried with the rice. Transfer the shrimp to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium and add 1 tablespoon peanut oil. When the oil is hot, add the beaten eggs. They should sizzle and puff without browning. Let them set for about 10 seconds, then push any cooked egg to one side of the wok and let the uncooked egg pool in the center of the wok. Continue cooking, adjusting the heat to prevent browning and pushing cooked egg to one side until all of the egg has just barely set. The eggs should be moist and slightly runny as they will cook more when stir-fried with the rice. Scrape them onto a plate, chop very coarsely with a spatula, and wipe the wok clean.

Return the wok to high heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons peanut oil. When the oil is hot, add the asparagus and leeks. Season with salt. Stir-fry until the asparagus is almost tender, about 1-1/2 minutes. Return the shrimp to the skillet and give everything a toss, then add the rice. Season with more salt and stir-fry until the rice is hot throughout, about 1 minute. Add the cooked eggs, ¼ cup (30 g) almonds and the spicy sesame oil and toss briskly once or twice, then remove from the heat. Taste for salt. Add the cilantro and toss to distribute it, then transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish the top with more cilantro leaves and the remaining toasted almonds. Serve immediately.

Suggested Pairings:

Callaway Vineyard & Winery ~ 2016 Special Selection Chardonnay – This light, crisp Chardonnay opens with aromas of leafy pineapple and citrus fruits. The palate is lush with fresh tropical fruits, golden delicious apple with a tangy pineapple finish. 

Carter Estate Winery & Resort ~ 2017 Pinot Gris – Citrus notes are round and tropical, with delicate floral scents and ripe pear flavors: a wine of distinction.

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, creme brulee and caramel.

Robert Renzoni Vineyards ~ 2019 Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Grigio – Flavors of ripened pear, Granny Smith Apple and lemon zest along with a crisp, rich lingering finish.  

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Mother’s Day Specials in Wine Country

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

Happy Mother’s Day!

Although the wineries and winery restaurants are only open for wine pick-ups and food take out, there are still plenty of wine country ways to show your Mom just how much she means to you! Here are just a few special offers!

Akash Winery
Mother’s Day Special Offer: Includes one bottle each, Riesling, Parlez-Vouz Rose, Akash blanket, two small wine glasses, and Pretty Paints virtual succulent workshop.
Price: $140 + Club discount. Please visit us online www.akashwinery.com or call 951.888.1393 to order in advance!

Avensole Winery

AVENSOLE WINERY
Mother’s Day Special Offer: Because She’s Mom! Where family begins, and love never ends… Celebrate Mom and show your love and appreciation this Mother’s Day with the perfect relaxing warm weather sip – our beautiful 2016 Cinsault Blush! (100% Cinsault: rose-water, jasmine, lemon zest, brilliant cherries, cranberries.)
Price: Enjoy a 10% discount on three bottles of Avensole 2016 Cinsault Blush! Discounted price is $25.16 per bottle and available through Mother’s Day weekend. (Wine Club Member enjoy a 30% discount.)
How to order: We are offering complimentary Home Delivery within Temecula for orders of 3-bottles or more – please call us at 951-252-2003 x312 to place an order for Home Delivery or for Curbside Pick-up at the Tasting Room.
We are also offering complimentary Shipping for orders of 3-bottles or more delivering in California. Please email wineclub@avensolewinery.com to place an order to be shipped.

Bel Vino Winery
Mother’s Day Special Offer: “For Mom Duo” – one bottle of our Brut Bubbly and one bottle of our Peach Mango Bubbly
Price: $29.94 plus free shipping.
How to order: Please visit us at https://www.belvinowinery.com/ecommerce/package-deals.html

Callaway Vineyard & Winery
Mother’s Day program offer: Case Sale: 40% Off Wine Club | 30% Off Non-Club on these select wines.
2016 Winemaker’s Reserve Calliope Red2016 Winemaker’s Reserve Roussanne, 2016 Special Selection Rose of Sangiovese, 2017 Late Harvest Cabernet Sauvignon.
Bottle Sale: 30% Off Wine Club | 20% Off Non-Club must purchase 6+ bottles.
UPS Ground Shipping included on all orders of 3+ bottles.
30% Off all Mother’s Day Merchandise (available at the winery only)
How to order: callawaywinery.com/shop or purchase at the winery or call 951.676.4001 for curbside pick-up.

Cougar Vineyard and Winery
Mother’s Day Mimosas: Choice between Cougar Bubbly or Dolce Bubbly bottle, fixings for a Charcuterie board for two, fresh organic estate oranges you can juice at home or garnish the sparkling bubbly with.
Special Price: Wine club $40, Non-Wine Club $45.
How to Order: Call 951.767.8595 or come in, we are closed Mother’s Day so pre-order and pick-up Saturday the latest.

Doffo Winery
Date: Saturday 5/9/2020 ~ Mother’s Day Dinner and Show for locals!
Wines included: 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon and Paulina Sparkling
Take and bake dinner to include (feeds up to 4 people): Chef’s Traditional Caesar Salad, Choice of Homemade Vegetarian Lasagna OR Homemade Meat Lasagna and Italian Lemon Cream Cake for dessert.
Show Time: 7:00p.m. Zoomlink will be provided for flamenco guitarist Nocy nocymusic.com
Sale Price: $99.00 per person (Regular Price $175.00) – Must pre-order by Wednesday 5/6/20 by 2:00p.m. Be sure to ask us about our Mother’s Day Wine Bundles too!
How to order: Please call 951.676.6989 or visit www.doffowines.com. Dinner pick up between 11:30-4:30 on 5/9/2020.

Falkner Winery
Mother’s Day Special Wine Offer: 3 bottles of our red Luscious Lips wine for the price of 2.
Sale Price: Normal price is $53.85; special price $35.90.
How to order: Purchase on our website of www.falknerwinery.com or email wineclub@falknerwinery.com. Offer good May 7-11. We provide curbside pickup on Wednesdays between 11-3pm. Normal shipping in CA would be $9 but free shipping is available on any orders of 6 bottles or more.

Fazeli Cellars
Mother’s Day Special Wine Offer: 3 Pack Special: 2 Norooz & a bottle of Bubbly
Price: $60 Non-Members, $48 Members
How to order: Visit us online https://shop.fazelicellars.com/prod-391581/Mothers-Day-Special.html or via phone 951-303-3366 for curbside pick-up.

Leoness Cellars
Mother’s Day Special Wine Offer: Includes 12 bottles of 2019 White Merlot plus FREE shipping! You may also utilize our curbside pickup service at our production facility at Temecula Valley Winery Management: 27495 Diaz Rd. Temecula, 92590 {ARV: $288 + shipping, for a limited time}
Price: Members: $209 – Non-members: $239
How to order: Our call center and pickup location is open Wednesday-Saturday from 11-4pm. Call (951) 302.7601 ex 1 with your order or use the link: http://www.leonesscellars.com/mobile/dept-411056/White-Merlot-Case-Special.html
Enter promo code: MOMSMERLOT at checkout

Masia de la Vinya Winery
Mother’s Day Special Offer: Bubbles & Brie – Join Grazing Theory and Masia Sunday, May 10th at 11 am for a virtual workshop and pairing.
Price: $55 + tax Bubble Trio (Masia NV Brut & NV Magrana, Danza’s NV Espumosa). Brie Tier Kit: $65
How to order: Bubble Tier: https://www.grazingtheory.com/events
Bubble Trio: https://www.masiadelavinya.com/dept-389751/Wine-Specials.html

Mount Palomar Winery
Mother’s Day Special Offer: “Give Momma some sugar” & “Thank you is best said with a bottle of red”
$25 for 2014 Castelletto Sangiovese / $15 for 2016 Cinsaut Blush, Riesling, Mont Noir Red Dessert Wine
Order online at www.mountpalomarwinery.com or at Mount Palomar Winery 11 AM to 5 PM daily for curbside pickup.

Peltzer Farm & Winery
Mother’s Day Special Offer: Bubbles & Blooms, a locally grown mason jar bouquet from Kendall Farms, 1 bottle of DOCG Prosecco, and 1 bottle of 2019 Syrah Rosé. Plus we’re offering to schedule facetime shopping sprees in our Farmer’s Market. Items can be reserved for 24 hours and picked up in the Crush House.
Price: $85.95 ($66.85 for Crush Club members)
How to order: Pre-order on peltzerwinery.com by Wednesday 5/6 – For local delivery, email tastings@peltzers.com

Ponte Winery
Mother’s Day Special Offer: Ponte’s Mother’s Day Gift Guide takes the guess work out of buying something special for the Mom in your life. Our gift sets include a little bit of everything – from our estate grown wine to dips, seasonings, oils and more!
Price: $48-$300 – There’s something for everyone!
How to order: Visit shop.pontewinery.com and view our Mother’s Day Gift Guide, or visit our Tasting Room during regular business hours (Direct URL to our gift sets: https://shop.pontewinery.com/Shop-Wines/Wine-Flights)

Oak Mountain Winery – Cave Cafe
Mother’s Day Special Menu Offer: 24 Hour Slow Cooked Prime Rib with choice of sides, spinach salad with cherries, candied almonds, Merlot vinaigrette and Strawberry cheesecake cinnamon rolls for dessert.
Price: $89 for 4 people: 2 sides / 4lbs and $169 for 8 people: 4 sides / 8lbs
OR
Shrimp Alfredo: Sautéed Shrimp & Fettuccine inhouse made sauce, spinach salad with cherries, candied almonds,
Merlot vinaigrette.
Price: $59.95 for 4 ppl. and $119.95 for 8 ppl.
How to order: Call the winery to order in advance for pick-up 951 699-9102
We are also offering Mother’s Day bundle of 1 bottle of Red or White Wine (from select menu) 1 bag popcornopolis popcorn, 6 chocolate covered strawberries and 1 finch berry soap for $47.

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa
Mother’s Day Special Offer: Mother’s Day Rosé Wine Bouquet – Includes 1 Bottle each of 2017 Grenache Noir Rosé, 2016 Tempranillo Rosé, 2017 Muscat Canelli Rosé, 2018 Merlot Rosé.
Price: $60, $45 for wine club
How to order: This package can be ordered at: http://store.wineresort.com/cart/prod/Mothers-Day-Ros%c3%a9-Bouquet__20MDROSEBOUQUET.aspx
Mother’s Day Pamper Pack: Includes Grapeseed Spa Robe, one bottle of Pinot Grigio Sparkling, Vineyard Rose Sparkling, South Coast Wine Glass, 1 pack of 3 Green Tea Under Eye Treatments, 1 10 fl. oz. Jar of Kopari Coconut Brown Sugar Scrub, 1 Kopari Lip Gloss.
Price: $175, $150 for club
How to order: This package can be ordered at: http://store.wineresort.com/cart/prod/Mothers-Day-Pamper-Pack__20MDPAMPERPACK.aspx
We also have various Mother’s Day merchandise that can be found here: http://store.wineresort.com/cart/cat/Home/Merchandise.aspx

Thornton Winery
Mother’s Day Special Menu offer: Thornton Winery is cooking for you with our curbside take-out. Moms show their love all year long so be sure to show your love on her special day! You can still treat mom and make sure she does not do the cooking.
Menu: Slow Braised Short Rib, choice of two sides and Meyer’s lemon cheesecake for dessert!
Price: $35.00 plus tax
How to order: Pre order by Friday May 8th (951) 699-0099.

Wiens Family Cellars
Mother Day Wine Specials: Special packages are available from Tuesday 5th through Monday 11th
Rose Package $51 member – $63.75 non-member
1 bottle each 2018 Rose of Pinot Noir, 018 Pink Crowded and Brut Rose
White Wine Package $54 member – $67.50 non-member
1 bottle each 2018 Albarino, 2018 Fume Blanc and 2019 White Crowded
Red Wine Package $87 member – $108.75 non-member
1 bottle each 2018 Red Crowded, 2017 Dos Melodias and 2017 Domestique
Shipping included for orders over $50. Flat Fee $10 for orders under $50.
How to order: Visit us online www.wienscellars.com or call the winery at 951.694.9892 for curbside pick-up.

Wilson Creek Winery
Mother’s Day Dinner Offer: Mother’s Day Dinner Packages – complete meal – serves 8
Price: Prime Rib – $295. | Glazed Ham – $250. | Citrus/Herb Roasted Chicken – $275
How to order: https://shop.wilsoncreekwinery.com/dept-417070/Creekside-Grille-Preorders.html
Mother’s Day Wine Package: Nero d’Avola, Blanc De Blanc, Cellar Select Chardonnay
Price: $109.97
How to order: https://shop.wilsoncreekwinery.com/prod-417072/Mothers-Day-Wine-Package.html
Special Celebration Label Sparkling Wine 30% off. Price $15
How to order: https://shop.wilsoncreekwinery.com/prod-417072/Mothers-Day-Wine-Package.html

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How to Host a Virtual Wine Tasting

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

Virtual Wine Tasting

Article courtesy of Decanter.com
Sylvia Wu

What should you think about and prepare before hosting an online tasting? We get advice from China’s first Master Sommelier, Lu Yang MS…

Staying home under lockdown doesn’t mean you can’t keep up your wine tasting practice. And it can still be a social event with friends, thanks to the selection of video calling options that are now available. Here are some top tips to get the most from your virtual wine tasting…

Getting prepared
Lu Yang MS, founder of Grapea Wine Education and regarded as one of the finest wine educators in China, has been holding weekly online wine tastings while the country has been in quarantine. He said wine lovers have three things to think about before organising a virtual tasting.

First is to find the right time; ‘after dinner is a good time, the end of the day, when people can sit down and taste’.

Next is to choose the appropriate software. ‘In China we use WeChat more often, but Zoom, WhatsApp, Skype or Microsoft Teams are all available and easy to use. The key is to choose one that all of your group can access and use with ease.’

Finding the right crowd is equally important, said Lu. ‘Even for professionals, we feel awkward sitting next to people we barely know at a wine tasting event. With virtual tasting, that awkwardness could be enhanced. So choose your crowd carefully, if this is the first virtual tasting you host – maybe start with friends that you know well and are relaxed around.’

Choose a theme
Lu’s advice on picking some wines to taste: ‘It always helps if you have a theme in mind – you can make it a vertical tasting from the same producer, or a horizontal (same vintage) range from a certain region.’

A theme is also important to keep people focused, ‘by the end of the tasting, your guests are more likely to have a sense of accomplishment if you’ve had thorough discussions around one topic.’

Get creative
Simply lecturing your guests on your wine knowledge across the screen can be rather dry. It’s time to get creative, said Lu, who suggests two ways to play blind tasting games online.

Game A
‘If you and your guests can get hold of the same range of wines, either from shops or from online stores, ask the shop keeper or a family member to put the wines into individual blind bags, and get them numbered before the tasting.

‘Now you are ready for a ‘cloud’-based blind tasting. You can decide either to keep scores and make it a competition, or ask your guests to take turns and guess about each wine.’

Game B
Another approach, which skips the hassle of bagging and numbering the bottles, is to simply ask everyone to pour the same selection of wines into their glasses.

‘Invite one guest to randomly choose a wine, taste and describe it to the others, and see if people can spot the exact same wine from their glasses.’

But for either game you choose, ‘make sure you have a range of bottles to try, so you have plenty to talk about.’

Three to four bottles are a good starting point, if it gets to more than five bottles, how to finish them afterwards could be a problem – something to keep in mind when planning the tasting.

‘It won’t be sensible to drink too much when you are on your own,’ Lu warned.

Advantages?
‘Frankly, there’s no advantage in virtual tastings compared to a real one. When sharing wine, you’d want to physically meet people, feel their passion and see the smiles on their face.

‘But in these difficult times, virtual tastings are a viable option for us to stay connected and share a passion.’

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Running Low on Wine? Consider Shopping Online

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

Wine at home

With most of us spending a LOT of time at home these days, it may come as no surprise that our wine intake has increased. According to a recent Forbes article, national online sales increased by almost 250% in the month of March, while Drizly, an alcohol-delivery app active in 26 states, reported a 300% increase in sales over last year.

Typically, the United States alcohol industry is governed by what is known as the “three tier system.” Wines must pass through a wholesaler or distributor before they are sold through a retailer to the customer. And, as one would imagine, a layer of pricing is added with each tier – winery, distributor, retailer – ultimately reaching the consumer and the final price that they pay for the product.

However, in most states, it is legal for a wine consumer to purchase wine directly from the winery. This “Direct to Consumer” or DTC model cuts out the additional layers of pricing that the wine would go through to reach the retail or restaurant market. Further, as a result of the COVID-19 situation, wine businesses have fought to get the normally strict interstate shipping laws to open up, allowing wineries to ship their products directly to consumers across the country – in many cases, to states they were previously prohibited from shipping to.

This DTC model is what Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country is founded on. Nearly all of the wines produced in Temecula Valley are not available at wine shops, in restaurants, or on the shelves of large grocery chains. They are available at the winery and through the wine club, for purchase, consumption, and online orders. And, thanks to these relaxed interstate shipping laws, more consumers than ever have access to wines they previously did not – including Temecula Valley wines.

In celebration of our wine consumers – and the potential growth of the DTC model – we have compiled 5 of the best reasons to join a Temecula Valley wine club right now.

1) You are supporting a local business.

This is perhaps the most important reason of all to sign up for a wine club at your favorite winery right now, or simply order a few bottles online. Most Temecula Valley wineries are family owned and operated and have been forced to lay off or furlough large numbers of employees as a result of the pandemic. We want there to be a wide range of wineries still open for us when this is all over. By purchasing directly from the winery, you are helping them stay in business and foster greater diversity and quality in the wines available to consumers. Large wine brands that are in national distribution are far more likely to weather this storm than small, family-run operations. Let’s make sure it’s not just grocery store wine that’s available to us when the world gets back to normal.

2) Temecula Valley wines cannot be found anywhere else.

Don’t you love being the person who shows up to the dinner party with a bottle of wine no one has ever heard of or tasted before? Everyone has a little bit of a desire to be an early adopter or the first to discover a best-kept secret. With few exceptions, Temecula Valley wines cannot be found at your local grocery store. This is your chance to pop and sip some truly unique bottles of wine that are representative of a time and a place, and reflect an unmarred journey from grape to your glass, straight from the winery itself.

3) Your wines are carefully curated by the pros.

When you sign up for a wine club, the selections you receive each month or quarter, depending on your club’s set up, are hand-selected by knowledgeable staff who are closely connected to their consumers and hoping to surprise and delight them with each shipment. They thoughtfully choose their featured wines according to what they believe is showing well and ready to be enjoyed. You can rest assured that you are in good hands when the winemakers and winery staff, who have intimate knowledge of each product and vintage, are picking your next sips.

4) It’s something to look forward to

Everyone loves to get mail. And this is the best kind of mail ever! How much better to know that you are scheduled to receive a delightful wine surprise every few weeks than simply realizing you are low on wine and buying whatever the grocery store has stocked right now.

5) Wine club memberships come with a lot of perks

A typical wine club membership doesn’t just include wine shipments. Memberships often come with a host of other great benefits, from substantial discounts on other wines, free shipping perks, free tastings, and access to exclusive events like library tastings and winemaker dinners, to name a few. Many wineries also offer different wine club tiers to suit different preferences and budgets – for example, all whites, all reds, mixed selections, or “reserve”-style memberships that offer access to past vintages and other small-production bottlings.

Plus, rumor has it, the wine club pick-up parties are pretty legendary… once we are able to have them again!

Bottom line: The next time you find yourself running low on your favorite juice, think about exploring some of the different wine clubs out there in Temecula Valley. Shop around – there are plenty to choose from. Or, simply place an order online for a few bottles to be sent directly to you. There are so many great discounts on wine and shipping right now, so there has never been a better, more consumer-friendly time to stock up on wine. For more information on wine club memberships and other “Sip From Home” promotions, visit www.temeculawines.org.

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PAPPARDELLE WITH ARTICHOKES, PEAS, AND PROSCIUTTO

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

Pappardelle with Artichokes, Peas & Prosciutto

It’s long past time to bust the myth that artichokes don’t go with wine. This pasta dish is perfectly wine friendly thanks to an assist from pasta, sweet peas, and meaty prosciutto. Chill a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and prove it to yourself. If you can’t find fresh baby artichokes, substitute frozen artichoke hearts rather than marinated hearts.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • ¾ pound (340 g) fresh pappardelle or fresh egg pasta sheets or ½ pound (225 g) dried pappardelle
  • 14 to 16 fresh baby artichokes, about 1-1/2 ounces (40 g) each, or 1 package (9 oz/ 250 g) frozen artichoke hearts (see Note)
  • 1 lemon
  • 6 tablespoons (90 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • Pinch hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 sprig fresh mint
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 1 cup (150 g) shelled English peas or frozen petite peas, thawed enough to separate
  • 2 ounces (55 g) thinly sliced prosciutto di Parma, shredded by hand
  • Freshly grated pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Directions

If using fresh egg pasta sheets, start at one of the sheet’s narrow ends and loosely roll the sheet like a jelly roll, leaving a 1-inch (2.5-cm) tail. With a sharp chef’s knife, cut ribbons about 5/8-inch (15-mm) wide. Grab the noodles by the exposed ends, lift them up, and they will unfurl. Repeat with the remaining sheets.

If using fresh baby artichokes: Fill a large bowl with water and add the juice of the lemon. To trim the artichokes, peel back the outer leaves until they break off at the base. Keep removing leaves until you reach the pale green heart. Cut across the top of the heart to remove the pointed leaf tips. If the stem is still attached, cut it down to ½ inch (1.25-cm), then trim the stem and base to remove any dark green or brown parts. Cut each heart in half and cut each half into 2 to 3 wedges, depending on size. Immediately place in the lemon water to prevent browning.

If using frozen artichoke hearts, thaw, cut each heart in half, then cut each half into 2 to 3 wedges, depending on size.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and hot pepper flakes and sauté until the onion is soft and sweet, about 10 minutes. Lower the heat if needed to keep the onion from browning. Add artichokes to the skillet (drained first, if fresh) along with the mint sprig, 1 cup (250 ml) water, and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer, cover, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the artichokes are almost tender, 10 to 15 minutes. There should still be several spoonsful of flavorful juices in the skillet. Remove the mint sprig.

Cook fresh or frozen peas in the boiling water until tender, then lift them out with a sieve and add them to the artichokes along with the prosciutto. (Do not discard the boiling water; you will need it to cook the pasta.) The sauce should be juicy; if it seems too dry, add a splash of boiling water from the pot. Taste for salt and keep warm.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and boil until al dente. Fresh pasta will take only 1 to 2 minutes, depending on freshness. For dried pasta, consult cooking time on the package. Just before draining, set aside 1 cup of the hot pasta water. Drain the pasta and return it to the warm pot. Add the contents of the skillet and toss gently with tongs, adding a little of the reserved pasta water if the sauce seems dry. Add 1/3 cup (25 g) of grated cheese, toss gently, and immediately divide the pasta among 4 bowls. Pass additional cheese at the table for those who want it.

Suggested Pairings:

Hart Winery ~ 2018 Sauvignon Blanc – Citrus notes of guava and tangerine, a subtle herbal undertone and a clean peach finish.

Masia de la Vinya Winery ~ 2016 Sauvignon Blanc – Lemon zest, guava, passion fruit & pineapple.

Oak Mountain Winery ~ 2018 Chardonnay – Lightly oaked with French oak imparting rich flavors of vanilla, butterscotch, creme brulee and caramel

Ponte Winery ~ 2018 Reserve Chardonnay – Barrel aged for 10 months in new French oak barrels, this limited-production, subtly buttery reserve is well-balanced with a slight minerality on the finish.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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Your Toughest Wine Questions Answered!

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country Rockstars Weigh in on Common Questions about Wine

Wine is supposed to help us relax, connect with others, and provide a feast for all the senses. But then why does it sometimes seem so complicated? From indecipherable tasting notes to words like “dry,” “tannic,” “aromatic,” and “sulfites” that leave us scratching our heads, it’s a wonder we don’t need a PhD to drink the stuff!

Fortunately, the experienced and deeply knowledgeable rockstars of Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country are here to help! We tapped a few of our best and brightest to answer some of your most frequently-asked wine questions.

Q: What are “tannins”?

Renato Sais

A. Renato Saís, Winemaker, Akash Winery

Wine aficionados talk a lot about tannins, but what are they? Tannin basically refers to the dryness, bitterness, and astringency of a wine (typically red wine). It is a naturally occurring polyphenol found in plants, seeds, bark, wood, leaves, and the fruit skins of grapes used to produce the wine. Tannins can also come from the barrels that are used when aging many wines. These wood tannins are absorbed into the wine where various flavors become apparent.

Tannins start out tasting really dry, and it is through aging and manipulation, that we are able to transform a harsh “tannic” wine into a smooth, elegant, developed red wine. Tannins can be manipulated in different ways in the different steps of winemaking: Crushing and destemming, fermentation, aging and fining of the wine prior to bottling.

Because tannins are found in the skins of grapes, they are more present in red wines than they are in rosé or white wines. This is because red wines are fermented with skins, whereas whites and rosés typically aren’t.

Q. Speaking of dryness… What does it mean when we say a wine is “dry”?

Gus Vizgirda

A. Gus Vizgirda, Winemaker, Wilson Creek Winery:

It means the wine has a bad sense of humor.

Kidding… Simply put – “dry” is the opposite of “sweet.”

All wines start out as sweet juice made from the particular grape varietal; for example, Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon. During the fermentation process, yeast consumes the sugar producing alcohol. So initially, the winemaker starts with a tank that’s 100% Chardonnay grape juice, and 0% wine. As fermentation progresses: Day 3 of fermentation 83% juice and 17% wine, Day 5 of fermentation 53% juice and 47% wine, so-on and so-on. As fermentation continues more sweet grape juice is fermented and converted into wine until the desired “Dryness” level is obtained. In general a “Dry” wine will have a grape sugar level at 0.4 – 0.6% (99.6 – 99.4% of the grape juice has been fermented by the yeast).

An interesting note is that the fruitiness of the grape remains with the dry fermented wine. In some cases, this fruitiness is intense and is often confused with sweetness.

Sweet wines are wines where not all of the sweet grape juice is fermented in the wine.

Q. Ok… Dry is the opposite of sweet, which can be confused with fruitiness. Can you explain what the difference is between a sweet and a fruity wine?

Danaé Wegner

A. Danaé Wegner, Tasting Room Manager, Peltzer Winery

A balanced wine encompasses a few elements that need to be cohesive: tannin, acid, sugar, and alcohol. Sugar is the most recognizable to our palates naturally, which is why us wine nerds often call sweet wines the “gateway wines.”

The difference between sweet wine and fruity wine is simple: we can measure sugar, but fruit is perceived. For example, there are grapes that are wildly aromatic and exude sweet floral notes like lilac and orange blossom, or ripe fruits like strawberry and white peach such as Viognier, Gewürztraminer, and Muscat. These wines may have a perceived sweetness due to the recognition of sweeter fruit notes but could technically be dry.

A term y’all may have heard thrown around your local tasting room is “residual sugar” or R.S. This is the sugar content in the wine after the winemaker stops the fermentation process. A sweet wine ranges from 3% R.S. to upwards of 15%. This resulting percentage goes all the way back to farming!

In the vineyard, we measure sugar level in Brix, which is sugar by weight. As the berries ripen on the grapevine, their sugar level rises, which signals to the farmer that the fruit is ready to be harvested. A higher Brix level means a higher potential alcohol content because during fermentation, the natural and added yeast consume the sugar and produce alcohol, along with carbon dioxide and heat. 

How do we enjoy both fruity and sweet wines? With sweeter wines, try an opposing, spicy food pairing like pepper jack cheese. With a fruity wine, try something that is also fruity to create a congruent pairing. Everyone’s palate is different, but we should all strive to find a purpose for every style of wine we encounter. Cheers! cialis

Q. Why do some wines give me headaches?

Michelle Vener

A. Michelle Vener, Tasting Room & Wine Club General Manager, Fazeli Cellars

Okay…stating the obvious first – drinking too much and not hydrating will give you headaches.  To avoid this, consume responsibly and hydrate. Let’s assume that this is not the problem. Next…

The common misconception is that wine headaches are caused by sulfites in wine. This is false. Sulfites do cause a few people sensitivity/allergy (1%) but they are found in so. many. things. From dried fruit, to deli meat, to tomato paste and even cereal- and the symptom would be more asthma-like, not a headache. If you aren’t having reactions from dried apricots and salami, you are likely not allergic to sulfites.

Tannin and histamines – ding ding ding…we have a winner! This is where it’s at folks. Some people have the misfortune of having a sensitivity/allergy to tannins, and histamines. This is caused by two different substances found in the skin and stem of the grapes.  Without getting super geeky and going on about Phenolic flavonoids, biogenic amines and enzymatic reactions, suffice it to say that this is a real thing and there is a solution!  If you suffer from this allergy you can take a histamine blocker (like Claritin) before enjoying a glass of wine and your problems will fade away (in more ways than one!).

Q. So how DO I know if I am allergic to sulfites?

Jennifer Buffington

A. Jennifer Buffington, Owner, Cougar Vineyard and Winery

Like many other allergens, the symptoms of an allergy to sulfites include: hives and itchiness, flushing, itchy throat, dizziness, trouble breathing and in some cases upset stomach, diarrhea and vomiting. People who suffer from asthma, are much more likely to have an allergy to sulfites.

A sulfite allergy is an adverse immune response. It is when the immune system reacts negatively to sulfites. It can be treated with antihistamines or oral steroids. In rare cases, it may cause anaphylaxis and an epinephrine auto injector will be necessary to treat the person.

Sulfites are a natural by-product of yeast metabolism in the wine making process, so all wine contains small amounts of sulfites. Some wine makers add sulfites which can cause allergic symptoms to be more intensified.

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How to Still Experience Wine Country During Uncertain Times

Thursday, March 26th, 2020


And provide much-needed support to local businesses in the process

While you may not be able to visit your favorite wineries right now because either they are closed or you are practicing social distancing, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy Wine Country! Here are a few ways to stay connected:

  1. Order some of your favorite sips. And be sure to try some new ones! Most wineries ship direct, so now’s the time to build that wine cellar you’ve always dreamed of. Not only will this give you a steady supply of wine while you are laying low at home, but it also helps these small business – many of which rely on visitation to survive – stay afloat during this tough time. We still want there to be wineries to visit when this is all over, right? The time is now to support local businesses in the ways that we can. Many wineries are offering great specials on individual bottles, gift packs, and shipping rates at the moment, so take advantage.
  2. Get creative with wine tasting! We are seeing some of our favorite media platforms and social media influencers hosting live virtual wine tastings. Stock up on a few bottles and join in the conversation. This will help you feel connected AND teach you the art of wine tasting. Host your own with your friends online if you’re up for it!
  3. SHARE…virtually. Again, small businesses need your help right now more than ever. With all of the at-home wine tasting you are doing, post your thoughts online! Share your tasting notes and impressions on social media, being sure to tag wineries and regions. These businesses will appreciate it.
  4. Review. Finally get around to doing all those Yelp, Facebook, and Google reviews you swore you were going to do after all of those positive customer service experiences you had not too long ago.
  5. Brush up on your wine studies. Taking a wine class or working toward a certification right now? Use this time to work through some of the material, take practices tests, or do timed “exam conditions” tastings. You will regret not taking advantage of the time you may find yourself with right now when life picks back up – hopefully sooner than later.
  6. Reach out. Send a message of support to your favorite winery, tasting room staff, or winemaker letting them know you appreciate them, and asking how you can help. This is a small gesture that goes a long way right now.

We will get through this. Let’s all stay positive, be kind, and do our part to make sure we come out the other side of this stronger than ever. Don’t forget to wash your hands!

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