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Mother’s Day in Wine Country

Tuesday, May 4th, 2021

Akash Winery & Vineyards
VIP Experience with the team from Pretty Paints, Bottle of wine, charcuterie board, and experience by Pretty paints. Must be 21+ to attend.
Saturday, April 8th. Various sessions throughout the day. $125pp. www.akashwinery.com to purchase tickets.

Avensole Winery            
Mother’s Day weekend specials at the Restaurant Saturday & Sunday. Reservations recommended at www.avensolewinery.com/restaurant

Bel Vino Winery
VIP tables available at $150 per table. Seating is for 6 people per table.  Includes VIP seating, 1 bottle of Brut, orange juice to make Mimosas and a flower arrangement to take home.  There is an option to pre-order Grazing Theory Charcuterie Boards. Contact Macey at macey@belvinowinery.com  to reserve a table.  Available tables are limited.

Bella Vista Winery
Guests are welcome to bring food and purchase a glass of wine or a bottle to enjoy in our picnic area.  Free glass of champagne for moms who purchase a tasting.  No reservations required unless party is more than 15 people.  (951) 676-5250. Open from 10 am until 5 pm. 

Callaway Vineyard & Winery
Treat Mom to the very best this Mother’s Day with a gourmet dining experience curated by Chef Anthony at Meritage from 10 am to 6 pm. Reservations are required. To make a reservation: www.callawaywinery.com/meritage-restaurant/make-a-reservation/  Wine tasting is available from 11 am to 6 pm. Live music on the Courtyard performed by Jerry Costanzo from 12 to 4.

Cougar Vineyard and Winery
Mother’s Day Brunch, 11-2p 45/40 WC, day of 50/45 WC. Includes Sangria Float, Frittata, Fruit Salad, Coffee and a long stem Pink rose for pre-paid attendees that are Moms.  Call 951.767.8398 or email events@cougarvineyards.com

Europa Village Wineries & Resort
Mother’s Day Gourmet lunch & bubbles. Sunday, May 9 from 12 pm – 3 pm
This Mother’s Day, treat Mom to an exquisite lunch at il Piazza from 12 pm to 3 pm, featuring crave-worthy dishes, unlimited sparkling wine, and live music from Jimmy Patton.
$80-85 per person | $72-76.50 for Société Members (Includes bottomless sparkling wine from 12-2 pm) Kids (10 & under): $30 | $27 Société. Reservations www.europavillage.com
              
Falkner Winery
Mother’s Day Brunch Sunday May 9th from 10 am – 3 pm. Join us for a plated Brunch to celebrate MOM, featuring Prime Rib, Raw Oysters, Crab Benedicts, & many more! Complimentary glass of champagne to guests 21+. www.falknerwinery.com

Longshadow Ranch Winery       
Mother’s Day Music & Brunch. Brunch at 11:00 am by Great Scot BBQ on the Longshadow patio. Reserve your brunch table at www.longshadowranchwinery.com  Music at 1:40 pm by Carlos Reynosa (Native American flutes and guitars)

Lorimar Winery
Mother’s Day Brunch. May 9.  $75/$67.50 WC, Bottomless mimosas, served buffet style to include seafood station, breakfast favorites, rib-eye, salmon and more. For ticket’s, please visit www.lorimarwinery.com

Masia de la Vinya Winery
Brushes & Brut  May 8 at 2:30 – 5PM.  Treat Mom to a relaxing afternoon as she sips on a glass of our NV Brut and creates a Starry Night Sunflower bottle masterpiece. $40 members/$46 Guests. Art supplies and ONE complimentary glass of NV Brut included. https://www.masiadelavinya.com/res-391238/Brushes-Brut-Starry-Night-Sunflower.html

Peltzer Family Cellars
Mother’s Day Brunch under the Mulberry trees on the Farmstead – two seating; 10-12 and 1-3pm. The Crush House will have 50 cent mimosas for the first 50 minutes and $12 mimosas the remainder of the day, photo ops, sweet treats, and live acoustic music. Please visit www.peltzerwinery.com

Vitagliano Vineyards and Winery
Live music from George and Grace from 2-5pm located at the Brook House

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Move Over, Chardonnay. Sauvignon Blanc is Here and it is a Must-Sip From Temecula Valley

Tuesday, May 4th, 2021

National Sauvignon Blanc Day is officially May 7. While we find ourselves asking, “Who creates these ‘days’ anyway?” we love any opportunity to celebrate the grapes that thrive in Temecula Valley’s warm, Mediterranean climate. So, in honor of this deeply important holiday, we sipped through a whole lot of Sauvignon Blanc in order to come up with a round-up of some of our favorites from Southern California’s Wine Country. We also chatted with some Temecula Valley winemakers who shared their thoughts on what makes Sauvignon Blanc so special in the region.

Akash Winery 2020 Sauvignon Blanc, Temecula Valley, $36

Akash Winery 2020 Sauvignon Blanc

This lush yet refreshing Sauvignon Blanc, produced from 100% estate-grown Akash Vineyards fruit, is sure to win you over with its juicy pineapple, peach nectar, and orange blossom aromas. Warm days and cool nights allow the grape to ripen slowly and evenly, offering crisp natural acidity to perfectly balance the ripe guava and grapefruit flavors. An incredibly versatile white that’s a treat for any occasion.

Europa Village Winery 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, $27

Flintiness and bright acidity balance a lovely richness of body highlighted by yellow apple and white peach. Pairing with grilled fennel crusted oysters or a Wine Country Salad topped with a dollop of creamy Chevre serves to even further enhance the sensory experience this wine delivers.

“Sauvignon Blanc shows its beauty in its diversity,” explains Matt Rice, Director of Tasting Rooms at Europa Village. “A top example from the Loire Valley might show a bracing acidity and flint character where a compatriot from Bordeaux might show creamy pear and a silky soft texture. It is always an excellent choice for Temecula Valley, as the warm days allow the variety to deliver a unique ripeness and rich body. This intertwines perfectly with the bright acidity the grapes attain due to the cool nights made possible by the Rainbow Gap letting in cooling afternoon and evening winds.”

Oak Mountain Winery 2020 Sauvignon Blanc, Temecula Valley, $26

Only 85 cases were produced of this Sauvignon Blanc, which opens with complex aromas of lime leaf, pink grapefruit, green apple, lemon grass, honey-suckle, and wet stone. Refreshing, forward, zesty flavors of lime, lemon, grapefruit, white peach, and passion fruit follow with bright acidity.

South Coast Winery 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, Temecula Valley, $18

South Coast Winery 2018 Sauvignon Blanc

Produced from the Musque clone – a hybrid cross of sauvignon blanc and muscat that offers the best characteristics of both varieties – this wine has the floral, spicy nature of Muscat tempered by the grassy, citrus character of Sauvignon Blanc, resulting in a wine that is a cornucopia of flavors and aromas: sweet kiwi and lime, gooseberries, pears, passion fruit and wildflowers. A crisp acidity is delicately laced throughout the wine, giving a zesty, clean finish. Harvested from Carter Estate Vineyards, this wine emulates the Sauvignon Blancs of Sancerre and the Menetou-Salon regions of France. 92% is fermented in stainless steel, resulting in a fruit character that is very upfront and clean. The balance was fermented in two-use French oak and that portion was blended back prior to bottling.

“Utilizing a split harvest, where parts of the vineyard block are harvested at different levels of ripeness yields flavors that range from grassy green to tropical ripe,” explains South Coast and Carter Estate Winemaker Jon McPherson. “Also, using different yeast selections and fermentation regimes, we build layers of complexity into the wine which all add up to a Sauvignon Blanc with rich character, depth and dimension.”

Falkner Winery 2020 Sauvignon Blanc, Temecula Valley, $35

This delicious straw-colored wine has wonderful favors of white peach, ripe lime, and floral notes of almond blossom with a nice, lingering finish.  This wine is great for just sipping or enjoying with food, especially as the weather warms.  The wine pairs well with seafood (shellfish in particular), chicken, and cheeses.

“Here at Falkner Winery, we pride ourselves in producing high quality wines from whites to reds. Our Estate Sauvignon Blanc is a premier wine that our wine club members have enjoyed for many years,” says Raymond Murgo, Falker Winery’s Tasting Room Manager. “We feel that Temecula Sauvignon Blanc presents a fresh, aromatic bouquet, with wonderful fruit-forward flavors and a strong, lingering finish.”

Hart Winery 2020 Sauvignon Blanc, Temecula Valley, $28

This 100% Sauvignon Blanc is all estate grown using 65% Musque clone and 35% traditional California clone. Produced using all stainless and no oak, it shows crisp acidity, intense aromatics, citrus, tropical notes, and hints of grass.

Fazeli Cellars 2019 Boland Rooz, Temecula Valley, $30

Fazeli Cellars 2019 Boland Rooz

The Summer Solstice heralds the beginning of the season and the longest day of the year. To commemorate the occasion, Fazeli Cellars has chosen Sauvignon Blanc, harvested from owner BJ Fazeli’s estate vineyards, for its dry, crisp, and refreshing taste to celebrate the hot summer days. This 100% Sauvignon Blanc is mouthwateringly fresh, with a nose that is sweetly grassy with a hint of citrus.

“The diurnal temperature swings of hot days and cool nights epitomize what is great about Temecula vineyards,” explains Fazeli Cellars Winemaker Allen Kim. “Often times in the morning when you visit the vineyard, located at an elevation of 1800 feet, the grapes are sitting in a cloud of fog or even above the fog layer. The cold air that comes from the Pacific Ocean just miles away from us allows the grapes to retain important natural acidity as well as cooling down the temperature of the vines. Acid is so important in our Sauvignon Blanc because it gives the vibrancy and life to the wines. We are lucky that following this period of cooling, our days are characterized by great sun exposure that allows the vines to completely dry out and achieve ripeness.”

Wiens Family Cellars 2019 Sauvignon Blanc, Riverside County, $26

Wiens Family Cellars 2019 Sauvignon Blanc

This Sauvignon Blanc has aromas of Tropical Fruit, and Fresh Herbs, with Kiwi and Green Melon on the palate, and a refreshingly crisp finish. Additionally, this wine has been aged on the lees (sur lie), giving the finished wine a creamy custard note to help balance the crisp acidity. 

“Depending on when its harvested, Sauvignon Blanc can either be light, with grassy, boxwood, and gooseberry notes, meaning it’s less ripe, or have luscious honey and tropical fruit notes in a riper style,” says Wiens Winemaker, Joe Wiens. “We appreciate both styles of Sauvignon Blanc, so we harvest in two stages.  This allows us to meld the crisp, light character of less ripe fruit, with the tropical guava notes of more ripe fruit, giving us a perfectly balanced, complex Sauvignon Blanc.

Danza del Sol 2018 Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Temecula Valley, $34

This fierce white wine is playful and full of zest, bursting with notes of kiwi, green pineapple, and a lingering finish of apple skin shavings and key-lime zest.

“Sauvignon Blanc is my favorite estate varietal we produce for both Danza Del Sol Winery and Masia De la Vinya Winery. At nearly 50 years old, our five acres of vines are still producing very high-quality fruit, and are extremely resilient, surviving the pierce disease outbreak of the 90s, and never succumbing to pests or diseases,” says Justin Knight, Winemaker for Danza Del Sol and Masia de la Vinya Winery. “With great natural acidity and early ripening time in the season, the options are endless. I’ve made several different styles including a grassy yet elegant New Zealand style; a tropical, more robust new-world style; and even late harvest dessert wines utilizing our Sauvignon Blanc. The versatility speaks to the Temecula Valley as a whole and the great environment we are lucky to have.”

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Soft-Centered Chocolate Babycakes with Red Wine Raspberry Sauce

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

Chocolate Babycakes with Red Wine Raspberry Sauce

Served warm with red wine raspberry sauce, they are almost molten inside, with crunchy edges. The recipe makes four, so you can have one cake apiece with your sweetie and save the other pair for lunch the next day. When cool, they taste like a super-rich brownie. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley dessert or sparkling wine.

Ingredients:

Sauce 

  • ½ cup dry red wine 
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar 
  • ½ pint (6 ounces) raspberries 

Cakes 

  • 5 ounces (155 g) unsalted butter 
  • 5 ounces (155 g) bittersweet chocolate (65% to 75% cacao), chopped 
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso or coffee powder 
  • 2 large whole eggs plus 1 egg white 
  • ¾ cup (185 g) granulated sugar 
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • Pinch sea salt 
  • ½ cup (60 g) sifted all-purpose flour 
  • Confectioner’s sugar for serving 

Whipped cream or ice cream, optional 

Directions:

Prepare the sauce: Put the wine and sugar in a small saucepan and warm over medium-low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced to 1/3 cup. Transfer to a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate several hours until cold. Set aside 1 dozen raspberries for garnish, then put the remainder in a small food processor or blender. Puree until smooth, then add the chilled red wine syrup and puree again. Pass the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the seeds, pressing firmly with a spatula.  

Prepare the cakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter and flour the insides of four 1-cup (250-ml) ramekins, shaking out excess flour.  

 Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate and espresso powder. Let stand until the chocolate melts, then whisk to blend. 

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg white. Add the sugar gradually, whisking well. Add the vanilla and salt. Whisk until the sugar is no longer grainy. Add the chocolate mixture and whisk to blend. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the flour. 

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared ramekins. They will be about two-thirds full. Set them on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake until the cakes are well risen and mounded on top, with many surface cracks, 30 to 32 minutes. 

Protecting your hands with oven mitts, immediately invert a cake onto an individual dessert plate, then quickly invert onto another dessert plate so that the cake is right side up. Repeat with the remaining cakes. Let cool for 5 minutes. 

Spoon the red wine raspberry sauce around the warm cakes, dividing it evenly. Scatter the reserved raspberries on top of the sauce. Dust the surface of the cakes with confectioner’s sugar.  Serve immediately, with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired. 

Suggested Pairings:

Bel Vino Winery ~ Prima Vintners Select -Aged in French oak barrels for 10 years, Prima is incredibly silky, smooth and caramel like, with a great balance of flavor and sweetness.

Chapin Winery ~ Chapin Allure Bubbly Sweet Moscato – Flavors of honeysuckle, apricots and pears.

Lorimar Winery ~ NV Dolce Vita – A blend of several years Zinfandel harvests that date back 15 plus years. With luscious chocolate, caramel, brown sugar on the nose with a rich, sweet finish. Smooth, seductive and sultry; a true treasure.

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa ~ Sparkling Gewurztraminer – Finished with a delicate sweetness that enhances the overall fruity character.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California


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Bruschetta with Warm Goat Cheese, Roasted Asparagus, and Pistachio Pesto

Friday, March 5th, 2021

Wine Paired Bruschetta

California’s asparagus season is short so it’s a good idea to get your fill while you can. When you crave a change-up from plain steamed or roasted asparagus, try them this way: on top of crunchy toast with warm, creamy goat cheese and a dollop of fragrant pesto. Serve as a hearty appetizer at a dinner party or enjoy for lunch with a green salad. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Riesling or Rosé.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Pesto:

  • ¼ cup (35 g) raw pistachios
  • 16 large basil leaves
  • 1 small clove garlic, sliced
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • 2 dozen very slender asparagus, tough ends removed
  • 4 slices sourdough bread, each about 4 by 3 inches (10 by 7.5 cm) and ½ inch (12 mm) thick
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 to 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • Sea salt
  • ¼ pound (110 g) fresh goat cheese with no rind

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). 

Make the pesto: In a food processor, combine the pistachios, basil, garlic, and olive oil and pulse until the basil and nuts are finely chopped but do not grind to a paste. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in the lemon zest and salt to taste. Add a few drops of lemon juice to balance the flavor.  

If necessary, trim the asparagus spears so they are no longer than the bread. Place them on a baking sheet and toss with enough olive oil to coat them lightly, about 2 to 3 teaspoons. Sprinkle with salt and roast until they are tender and starting to char, about 8 minutes.   

If the goat cheese is firm enough to slice, cut into three or four evenly thick slices and place them in a lightly oiled baking dish just large enough to hold them. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. If the goat cheese is too soft to slice, spoon it into a lightly oiled baking dish, flattening it slightly with the back of a spoon, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake until the goat cheese quivers when touched, like a soft custard, about 5 minutes. 

Toast the bread. Brush one side of each toast with olive oil. Divide the warm cheese among the toasts, spreading it evenly. Top each toast with asparagus and a dollop of pesto, dividing evenly. Serve immediately. 

Suggested Pairing:

Akash Winery ~ 2020 Parlez-Vous Rosé – A bright and intriguing French-style rosé as lovely as its name.

Baily Winery ~ 2019 Riesling – Delicate, dry and fruity white.

Miramonte Winery ~ 2018 Riesling – Spicy citrus, lemongrass, orange blossom, honeyed lemon, butterscotch, zen stone finish.

Robert Renzoni Vineyards – 2019 Lyric Rose – Dry Rosé made of Syrah grape, pale salmon hue, delicate bouquet of rose petals with peach skin exuding with flavors of guava and ripe peach.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California.

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And Here’s How It All Began…

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

Brookside Winery 1971

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copy courtesy of The City of Temecula and Robert Renzoni Vineyards

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WINE MEETS CHEESE

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020

Wine Meets Cheese

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

CHARDONNAY

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


Suggested Pairings:

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

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

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

ZINFANDEL

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

    Suggested Pairings:

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

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

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


CABERNET SAUVIGNON

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


Suggested Pairings:

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

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

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

Content and photo courtesy of The Wine Institute of California.

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Your 2020 (and beyond) Temecula Valley Holiday Wine Guide

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020

Holiday Wines to Pair or Share

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

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

When the situation calls for bubbles:

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

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

A few to try:

Carter Estate Winery Blanc de Noir, $35

South Coast Winery Vineyard Rose Sparkling Rosé NV, $20

Oak Mountain Winery Sparkling Pinotage NV, $34

Thornton Winery Cuvée de Frontignan NV, $39

Rosé ALWAYS

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

A few to try:

Akash Winery 2019 Parlez-Vous Rosé, $35

Hart Winery 2019 Grenache Rosé, $22

Robert Renzoni Vineyards 2019 Lyric Rose, $29

Avensole 2018 Brooke Rosé of Merlot, $26

Food Friendly Favorites

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

A few to try:

Danza del Sol Winery 2019 Albariño, $32

Wiens Family Cellars 2019 Chardonnay, $34

Miramonte 2017 Tempranillo, $50

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

When it’s time to open something special

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

A few to try:

Ponte 2018 Chardonnay Reserve, $50

Doffo Winery 2017 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, $89

Lorenzi Estate 2014 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, $225

Leoness Cellars 2017 Signature Series Meritage, $100

When you’ve got a sweet tooth

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

A few to try

Callaway Winery 2017 Late Harvest Chardonnay, $35

Europa Village Bolero Cellars 2004 Tesoro del Sol, $40

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

Monte de Oro 2008 Forty85 Dessert Wine, $65

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Winter in Wine Country

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020

Winter in the Vines

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

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

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

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

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

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RIGATONI WITH PORK RIB SUGO

Friday, October 30th, 2020

Rigatoni with Pork Rib Sugo

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

Serves 6

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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

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

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

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

Suggested pairings:

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

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

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

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

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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

Friday, October 30th, 2020

Meet Some of Temecula Valley’s Favorite Furry (and Feathery!) Friends

Let’s face it. We could all use a bit of levity right now. Since everyone loves animals, we decided to shine the spotlight on some of Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country’s real celebrities – the furry friends that capture the hearts of our guests with their wet noses, wagging tails, and big hearts. Here are a few of our favorites:

Wilson Creek Goldens

Wilson Creek Winery

Visitors to Wilson Creek Winery may have met the many resident Golden Retrievers, including ten-year-old Tipsy, who loves to chase stray cats and hunt for other winery creatures. While Tipsy considers herself brave, she still heads to the closet to hide behind clothes if the smoke alarm goes off. We don’t blame her – those things are loud! Tipsy grew up around the winery and absolutely loves people. She often comes down to the winery to visit with staff, many of whom she knows have hidden treats. Smart girl.

Reddog

Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery

There are lots of animals to visit over at Palumbo at any given time, from chickens to pigs to dogs. However, the most notorious of the bunch is probably their seven-year-old Australian Red Heeler-Pit Bull mix rescue, Reddog. Anyone who follows the Palumbos on social media will no doubt have seen a picture of Reddog in his favorite state: chasing rabbits. He jumps the fence and catches at least one rabbit a day. Lucky tasters on the patio are occasionally gifted with one of Reddog’s bunny conquests, and the tasting room has, on occasion, been evacuated on account of the gas Reddog gets from eating too many rabbits. When Reddog isn’t chasing poor bunnies, he’s either sleeping or thinking about harvest, his favorite time of year. In fact, every year when harvest is over, he goes into a bit of a depression. Who can blame him? It’s the most exciting time of the year in Wine Country!

Little Richard

Let’s not forget about Palumbo’s star rooster, Little Richard. This one-year-old spitfire loves to cock-a-doodle-doo all day long, while walking the winery fence and hitting up the tasting patio to visit with guests. When we asked if he had any weird habits, owner Cindy Palumbo told us, “He is a rooster, so everything he does is pretty weird.” We’ll drink to that.

Bordeaux

Baily Winery

Fans of Baily Winery will likely have met their resident rodent control officer, Bordeaux. This eight-year-old Tiger Cat loves people, greeting visitors and looking for attention from everyone who comes into the winery. Bordeaux is such a famous fixture at Baily that he was
featured on the label of their 2017 Sangiovese.

Duke

Peltzer Family Cellars

If you haven’t yet played a game of soccer, wine glass in hand, with Peltzer’s black and white Border Collie, Duke, you are missing out. This five-year-old pup loves to challenge guests to a match in front of the Crush House. In fact, he is such a natural at footie, that instead of retrieving balls with his mouth during a game of fetch, he rolls them back with his nose, Pelé-style. Duke sits outside of the Crush House all day greeting and visiting with guests, just waiting for someone to challenge him to a Wine Country World Cup.  

Buddy & Bandit

Oak Mountain Winery

Brothers Buddy and Bandit are the inseparable sibling duo over at Oak Mountain. These ten-year-old Queensland Heelers also love to chase rabbits (no word on any tummy troubles though) and sniff the grapes to see if they are ripe, no doubt a useful skill at a winery. While they make great watch dogs, they’re not so great with other animals. That doesn’t stop them from hanging out over at the Oak Mountain production facility, keeping everyone company and playing in the water when the team is washing out tanks.

Brodie

Akash Winery

Visitors to Akash love their one-and-a-half-year-old Goldendoodle, Brodi. This big, happy fluffball loves to chase the lizards that sunbathe on warm Southern California days, and is guilty of occasionally breaking guests’ wine glasses with his enormous, constantly wagging tail. Because he spends so much time hanging out with Akash’s Aussie Director of Operations, Sharon Cannon, some say Brodi is starting to bark with an Australian accent.

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