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VALLEY GIRLS: THE WOMEN OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WINE COUNTRY

Friday, March 1st, 2019

Since our last winemaker Q&A was so popular, we thought it might be time to do another one. For this issue, we caught up with a dynamic group of Temecula Valley rockstars – the women of wine country – to ask them about their inspirations, their aspirations, how they feel about being a woman in a male-dominated industry, and what their day-to-day looks like working in one of the most idyllic places on earth – Southern California.

They are at once businesswomen, multi-taskers, leaders, mothers, daughters, entrepreneurs, creatives, winemakers, farmers, and everything in between, and it’s clear they are ambitious as hell, and very passionate about Temecula Valley.

Here’s what they had to say.

Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association (TVWA): What or who inspires you on a day to day basis in your job?

Cindy Palumbo, Palumbo Vineyards & Winery

Cindy Palumbo, Owner, Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery: I am inspired daily by my husband [Winemaker, Nick Palumbo]. I rely on his focus to produce the top quality wine that we have. He makes me think about small details, and it has definitely helped our business.

Patricia O’Brien, VP of Sales & Operations, Danza del Sol Winery and Masia de la Vinya Winery: My staff inspires me on a daily basis. Being surrounded by creative people who share your goals and passion for wine is amazing.

Olivia Bue, Winemaker,Robert Renzoni Vineyards: The energy from other Temecula Valley winemakers gives me inspiration and motivation to keep making the best wine possible. We all have a synergy that allows us to be supporters of each others’ successes rather than competitors.

Krista Chaich, Executive Director, TVWA: Since the day I arrived in Temecula Valley Wine Country almost 15 years ago, I’ve been inspired by the people whose passion led to where our wine country is today. But these days, I’m inspired by a wine country pioneer, Phil Baily who continues to produce beautifully crafted wines (with a bit of help from his winery cats); Joe Hart, whose passion for winemaking has extended to his sons, Jim and Mike; and a multitude of “newcomers” who’ve been drawn to our region because of the foundation that has been laid by the generations before them.

Cori DeHore, TVWA

Cori DeHore, Operations Manager, TVWA: Our guests and their enthusiasm in planning their visit with us for the first time.


TVWA: Have you had any mentors in your career?

Cindy: I always looked up to Joe Hart when I was at Hart Winery. I admired his style of winemaking and he made me feel like part of the family. When I was at Callaway I looked up to John Moramarco. He was so patient with me and taught me a lot about farming and the vineyards. John and Joe played an instrumental role in helping to preserve the region’s agricultural roots. They helped me realize that we really want to help maintain integrity in the Valley by farming and producing high quality wines.

Valerie Andrews, Owner & Vice President, Oak Mountain Winery: My Dad was my mentor in the wine business. Growing up he was so enthusiastic about fine wines and always talked about them at the dinner table. During one visit to our house (which is now the Temecula Hills Winery and production facility), he jokingly said, “You have 10 acres. Why don’t you terrace the hills and plant grapes?” Well that year we did. Once the grapes grew, we had wine barrels everywhere – even our bathroom – and decided to start our wine career. We opened Temecula Hills Winery in 2001. I am very proud we were able to make a great Syrah blend which we named after dad – “Ed’s Red” – which got a silver medal. The best part was that dad was still alive to enjoy the notoriety and did a bottle signing for our customers. Of course I still have mine.

Cori: During my teens, my mentor was my high school Home Economics teacher. I was her teacher’s aide and it was the first time I felt someone genuinely have confidence in me. She made me feel like I could do anything for a career.

Oliva Bue, Robert Renzoni Vineyards & Winery

Olivia: I have worked alongside some incredible winemakers in different regions throughout my young career, but my first mentor in Temecula, Gus Vizgirda, stands out as my foremost influencer.


TVWA: What is the hardest part of your job?

Cindy: The hardest part has been trying to raise our 4 children while building a business. In the early years, the kids were small and didn’t understand that we had to work every weekend. I also had our 4th child after the winery opened. He spent his first few years in a playpen behind the bar.

Patricia O’Brien, Danza del Sol Winery & Masia de la Vinya Winery


Patricia: I’m not going to lie! The hardest part of my job is learning how to take criticism and learn from it. Getting it right is important when you are the one in charge, but listening and learning from your mistakes is just as important.

Krista: My job is to promote the whole region as opposed to wineries individually. It isn’t lost on me that many of them have put everything that they have into their businesses. But representing so many people, with differing business models….that’s pretty tough.

Olivia: The hardest part of being a winemaker is continuing to improve each wine, vintage after vintage. After releasing a wine that our wine club members and customers love, it’s my priority to make that next vintage even better. This can sometimes be challenging when weather causes stress on the vines and fruit quality is impacted, but the challenge of constantly improving is what makes this industry most gratifying.


TVWA: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Cindy: Tasting the final product, and when I hear people in the tasting room enjoying the wines. I also find great satisfaction in raising our own food. Being a totally sustainable vineyard, winery and household, gives me great pride. I love providing food for my family.

Jana Prais, Sales Director, Maurice Car’rie Winery: The satisfaction of introducing Temecula wine to people who had never heard of it, and having them learn that it’s an exceptional product. Most people are unaware of the high quality wines coming out of this part of California. It feels good to witness their surprise.

Krista: Can I say the wine?! I mean, it’s not only the wine, but it’s also that I’ve met so many wonderful people in this business over the years. The wine business is big, yet so small at the same time.

Valerie: The best part of the job is the great people I meet on a daily basis. When customers enjoy the hard work Steve has put into making the wine, the training I have put into our staff and the dream of building the first and only mined wine cave in Southern California, it puts a smile on my face. I see people walking on the grounds, hand in hand for their vacation… They chose to come to us.

Carrie Peltzer, Peltzer Family Cellars

Carrie Peltzer, Owner, Peltzer Family Cellars: I love watching people’s faces when they visit us. Their faces tell the story of how much they love the space and enjoy the wine!

Olivia: By far the most rewarding part of my job is the journey from vine to bottle to table. To be able to capture years of hard work in one single bottle is undeniably the most fulfilling part of my job.


TVWA: Do you feel being a woman has made it harder to be successful in any way? Has it made it easier in any way?

Cindy: It has not made it easier. I wear many hats, being a woman. I am required to run a business, run a household, raise children, raise animals, volunteer in my community, volunteer at the school. I am a chauffeur, a personal shopper and confidant, a tutor and a wife.

Patricia: To be honest, I feel that being a woman in a management position at a winery has made it easier because I’m able to tap into my natural abilities as a mother of three busy children (between the ages of 23 and 7), so I know how to multi-task, while meeting deadlines, collaborate and have fun doing it.

Jana Prais, Maurice Carr’ie Winery

Jana: I’ve observed that women are often great at multi-tasking and can be adaptable to different personalities and situations. I feel these qualities in myself have enabled me to be successful in the job.

Krista: I’ve never measured my successes or failures by my gender. Even though I work in a male dominated field, I’ve never felt challenged by that.

Valerie: When I was 36, after a 19-year marriage my husband died unexpectedly in his sleep. I was left with 2 teenagers, a mortgage, and no real job. I had helped my husband in his painting and home repair business, so I decided to go for a paint contractor’s license and got started on my own business within 6 months. Back then, there were no woman painting contractors. I got involved in a National Women in Construction group, who helped me whenever I got in over my head. For 20 years, I painted schools, restaurants, homes and even a prison. I occasionally butted heads with the good old boys, and had my share of tears on my drive home, but it made me the confident woman I am today.


TVWA: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What about Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country?

Cindy: I see myself continuing my work for the State of California Agricultural Association. I would like to finish my children’s book series. I would like to continue to teach our children how farm and run a profitable winery.

Patricia: I see myself running a third winery in Temecula Valley, while working to open my own winery consulting firm. In five years, Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country will be the “it” wine region to travel to.

Krista Chaich, TVWA

Krista: The future is so bright for Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country. I’ve seen it change so much in 15 years. We’ve come from a small, gem of a wine region, to a burgeoning wine destination in a short amount of time. We’ve dealt with many challenges, but I believe that if we are all unified in our vision of becoming a well-known and widely respected wine region, that’s exactly what will happen. And where do I see myself in five years?? Hopefully, leading the charge.

Carrie: In 5 years I hope to be knee deep in our next phase of Peltzer, continuing to tell our story. I have been filing away in my mind all the things that I want to design and share with our Peltzer family customer base. My role at Peltzer will be to communicate the importance of a well-thought-out space, where our customers can come to experience wine country to its fullest, while enjoying the story, the space, the wine, meeting new friends and relaxing with old ones.


TVWA: Tell us one small anecdote that has had an impact on your career – whether important, meaningful, challenging, funny, memorable… something that stands out:

Cindy: The most challenging thing I did in my career was probably while raising 3 small children. I worked the tasting room all day, and then we had a winemaker dinner that night that I was the server for…while 9 months pregnant. Raising children while running a business has always been challenging, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Running a business with my husband out of our home has had challenges. Our kids have learned that the combination of hard work and respect for each other pays off and is the greatest reward.

Krista: I could probably write a book about my experiences in wine country (although I’d have to change some names to protect the “innocent!”), but one experience stands out. I was attending my first Unified Wine and Grape Symposium in Sacramento, CA, and we were pouring wine at the regional tasting. I felt so proud and excited to be there, and the next thing I knew, Jerry Lohr, (the J. Lohr) came up to me and said, “Hmmm, Temecula Valley, huh?” I poured him a taste of wine, he sipped it, asked for another pour, and then got a huge smile on his face. He said, “You know…. that’s really good. That’s when I knew that I was part of something very special. It was only my second week on the job at the Association.

Valerie Andrews, Oak Mountain Winery

Valerie: In the early years, we bought a giant fermenting bag for our Merlot grapes. You pump your must into the bag and, as it ferments and heats, up you run cold water in the outer shell of the bag to keep it from getting too hot. Well, the cold water wasn’t working, so the must keep exploding out of the vent pipe so we added 15 more feet to the pipe. When it was finally ready to pump the wine out of the bag, it wouldn’t come out as it was supposed to. So, Steve cut the top of the bag, and in I went up to my waist in must, and handed him bucket after bucket until it was empty. That wine got a gold medal.

Special thanks to these dynamic women who shared their personal insights with us for this article. Next time you feel you can’t do it all, we hope their stories inspire you.

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CHICKEN-CHIPOTLE POSOLE WITH AVOCADO AND LIME

Friday, March 1st, 2019

A rich broth, moist hand-shredded chicken and smoky chipotle make this posole a standout. And you’ll have some extra poached chicken to enjoy in a salad the following day. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Barbera or Zinfandel.

Serves 4

Ingredients
2 pounds (1 kg) chicken legs and thighs
2 quarts (2 l) water
1 large onion, halved and sliced
1 dozen black peppercorns
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smacked
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole cumin seed or ground cumin
1/3 pound (155 g) Mexican-style chorizo
Vegetable oil
1 small onion, minced
½ green bell pepper, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large plum tomato, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup (10 g) chopped cilantro, plus some for garnish
1 can (15 oz/470 g) whole hominy, drained and rinsed
Canned chipotle chile en adobo, to taste
Kosher or sea salt.
1 small avocado, halved and pitted, then sliced crosswise
1 lime, quartered

Directions
Put the chicken and water in a large pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Skim any foam that collects on the surface. When the chicken stops producing foam, add the onion, peppercorns, garlic, and bay leaves. Adjust the heat to maintain a bare simmer and cook 1 hour. Cool, then strain. Remove the chicken meat from the bones, discarding the skin. Refrigerate half the meat for another use. Shred the remaining meat by hand. Set aside 5 cups (1.25 l) of chicken broth and refrigerate or freeze any remaining broth for another use.

Put the whole cumin seed in a small dry skillet and toast over medium heat, shaking the skillet often, until the cumin darkens and becomes fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Cool, then pound fine in a mortar or grind in a spice grinder.

Remove the chorizo from its skin and put it in a large pot over medium-low heat. Cook, crumbling it with a wooden spoon, until it has rendered its fat and is fully cooked. Transfer it to a plate with a slotted spoon, leaving any fat behind. Add enough vegetable oil to the pot to make 2 tablespoons fat.

Add the minced onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook until softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the tomato, oregano, and cumin and cook about 3 minutes longer to soften the tomato. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add the 5 cups (1.25 l) chicken broth and bring to a simmer, stirring. Add the cilantro, hominy, shredded chicken, and chorizo and return to a simmer. Whisk in some of the thick adobo sauce from the canned chipotle chiles, adding as much as you like. Season posole to taste with salt.

Divide the soup among 4 bowls. Top each portion with a few avocado slices and garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve immediately with lime wedges.

Pairing Suggestions:

Avensole Winery ~ 2015 Barbera – Dark cherry, strawberry, lavender, vanilla.

Hart Winery ~ 2015 Zinfandel – This fruity, classic Zin has been aged 12 months in premium American oak and blend with a kiss of Petite Sirah.

Robert Renzoni Vineyards ~ 2015 Barbera – Ripened cherry aromas and flavors, this wine is bursting with berries and bright acidity,along with tart blackberry jam and tobacco on the finish.

Wiens Family Cellars ~ 2015 Reserve Zinfandel – Dried fruit, toasted oak, refined tannins.

Photo and recipe courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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WINE COUNTRY RECIPE ~ CHICKEN-CHIPOTLE POSOLE WITH AVOCADO AND LIME

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

There’s nothing better on a cold winter day than a big bowl of hearty soup! A rich broth, moist hand-shredded chicken and smoky chipotle make this posole a standout. And you’ll have some extra poached chicken to enjoy in a salad the following day. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Barbera or Zinfandel.

Serves 4

Ingredients
2 pounds (1 kg) chicken legs and thighs
2 quarts (2 l) water
1 large onion, halved and sliced
1 dozen black peppercorns
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smacked
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole cumin seed or ground cumin
1/3 pound (155 g) Mexican-style chorizo
Vegetable oil
1 small onion, minced
½ green bell pepper, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large plum tomato, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup (10 g) chopped cilantro, plus some for garnish
1 can (15 oz/470 g) whole hominy, drained and rinsed
Canned chipotle chile en adobo, to taste
Kosher or sea salt.
1 small avocado, halved and pitted, then sliced crosswise
1 lime, quartered

Directions
Put the chicken and water in a large pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Skim any foam that collects on the surface. When the chicken stops producing foam, add the onion, peppercorns, garlic, and bay leaves. Adjust the heat to maintain a bare simmer and cook 1 hour. Cool, then strain. Remove the chicken meat from the bones, discarding the skin. Refrigerate half the meat for another use. Shred the remaining meat by hand. Set aside 5 cups (1.25 l) of chicken broth and refrigerate or freeze any remaining broth for another use.

Put the whole cumin seed in a small dry skillet and toast over medium heat, shaking the skillet often, until the cumin darkens and becomes fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Cool, then pound fine in a mortar or grind in a spice grinder.

Remove the chorizo from its skin and put it in a large pot over medium-low heat. Cook, crumbling it with a wooden spoon, until it has rendered its fat and is fully cooked. Transfer it to a plate with a slotted spoon, leaving any fat behind. Add enough vegetable oil to the pot to make 2 tablespoons fat.

Add the minced onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook until softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the tomato, oregano, and cumin and cook about 3 minutes longer to soften the tomato. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add the 5 cups (1.25 l) chicken broth and bring to a simmer, stirring. Add the cilantro, hominy, shredded chicken, and chorizo and return to a simmer. Whisk in some of the thick adobo sauce from the canned chipotle chiles, adding as much as you like. Season posole to taste with salt.

Divide the soup among 4 bowls. Top each portion with a few avocado slices and garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve immediately with lime wedges.

Suggested Pairings:

Doffo Winery ~ 2016 Zinfandel – 2018 People’s Choice Winner – This always popular 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

Europa Village ~ Private Reserve Barbera 2014 -Complex nose of ripe wild plums, figs, dried herbs, and bourbon; the mouthfeel is fleshy and powerful, but nicely balanced with proper acidity.

Hart Winery ~ 2015 Barbera – Aged in fine American oak barrels, this Barbera displays typical varietal high acidity with a significant dollop of American oak on the finish.

Wiens Family Cellars ~ 2015 Reserve Zinfandel – Dried Fruit, Toasted Oak, Refined Tannins

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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February Winery Events

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

Love is always in the air in Temecula Valley. This month, your local wineries have especially amorous offerings set against the backdrop of the most beautiful vineyards in Southern California.

Avensole Winery

Valentine’s Weekend Dinner / February 14 through 16 / 5-9pm, Live music 6-9pm / Cost $150 per couple / Indulge your senses with a romantic prix-fixe menu created especially for the occasion. Enjoy an enchanting evening on our beautiful outdoor terrace, where the scene is set for romance with live entertainment and a gourmet four course culinary delight for two. For tickets: http://www.avensolewinery.com/restaurant

Bubbles of the World / February 20 / 4-5:30pm / Cost is $42; $33 Wine Club / Expand your palate with our Sommeliers! Enjoy an intimate guided tasting of bubbly from around the world, including two Avensole sparkling wines. For reservations please visit http://www.avensolewinery.com/res-391445/Wine-Wednesdays-Bubbles-Of-The-World.html

Dueling Pianos / February 23 / 6-9pm / Cost is $42; $35 Wne Club / Avensole Winery invites you to a lively evening of Dueling Pianos! Ticket includes one glass of Avensole’s seasonal Sangria. Street Chef Food Truck available for purchase. For tickets: http://www.avensolewinery.com/res-391625/Dueling-Pianos.html

Hosted Tour & Wine Tasting /Available on Sunday of each the month / 2pm-3:30pm / For every adventure, there is discovery, for every unique place, there is a story. Take a guided journey through our lush vineyards and experience our rich heritage and handcrafted Avensole wines / Cost. $35 / Reservations required. Please call 951.252.2003 x312 to reserve.

Gourmet Cheese Artisanal Tour & Wine Tasting / Available on Friday of each month / 12pm / For the ultimate Wine Country experience, delight in an educational tour through our picturesque vineyard vistas and conclude this tour with a culinary treat of artisanal wine pairings featuring 7 Avensole wines / Cost: $75. Reservations required online at link: http://www.avensolewinery.com/res-369934

Baily Winery

Valentine’s Lunch at Carol’s / February 14 / 11:30am – 2:30pm / $25.00 per person / 3-course lunch. Join us by the fireplace in the romantic Bacchus Hall or on our beautiful vineyard patio. Live acoustic music by Chuck Sacayan / Reservations recommended 951-676-9243

Estate Library Tasting / Every Thursday-Sunday / Available 11am-4pm / Enjoy exclusive library tasting of 5 different vintages (varietal will vary monthly). Tasting will take place at Baily Estate Tasting Room located on Pauba Road / Tours are available upon request / For reservations and pricing information please call Lisa at 951-972-9768

Callaway Vineyard & Winery

Valentine’s Dinner at Meritage / February 14 / Seating’s at 5-5:30 and 7-7:30 $85 per person non-wine club, $76.50 per person wine club (tax and gratuity not included) / Allow Meritage Restaurant to be part of your love story…bring all your senses alive on the night of February 14th! From striking views, and alluring flavors to enticing smells of gourmet delights, your admirer is sure to be dazzled. The poetic sounds and melodies by Dave Reynolds, a Southern California acoustic artist, will be creating the ambiance for an exquisite evening. Adore your beloved in luxury on a night you will both keep in your hearts forever. To reserve and to view the menu please visit us online at www.callawaywinery.com

Prix Fixe Friday & Sunday at Meritage / 5pm to 8pm / For $35 guests may enjoy a starter, an entrée and a dessert / Live Music offered on Friday nights / Reservation is not necessary. For menu information call 951.587.8889

Brunch Specials every Sunday at Meritage / 11am / Cost is $25 / Includes a mimosa with fresh squeezed orange juice, entrée and dessert. All food from Meritage is farm-to-table, either grown on property in restaurant garden or locally outsourced.

Callaway Winery Tours offered daily / 11am and 1pm / Tour only, $10 per person. Tour with tasting, $25 – tour includes 1 tank sample, 1-barrel sample and 4 additional tastes at the Tasting Bar / Reservations not necessary, but for 10 or more highly recommended / For more information call 951.676.4001

Carter Estate Winery and Resort

Elegant Food & Wine Pairing / $45pp; $40pp Wine Club Member / 1pm & 3pm Monday-Sunday / Your guided experience includes a specially selected flight of five of our Carter Estate wines paired with perfectly matched culinary bites from our Chef. Learn about the history of our beautiful Temecula Valley & get a behind-the-scenes look at how our award-winning Sparkling wines are made. Our Wine & Food Pairings are approximately 90 minutes & limited to eight guests.  Make your reservation today!  Must be 21 or older / Reservation Information: Reservations recommended – Book a pairing on CarterEstateWinery.com

Cougar Vineyard & Winery

12th Annual Super Chili Bowl / February 3 / 3:00pm-8:00pm / Looking for all of you Chili competitors out there!  Chili tasting, judging, snacks, wine and beer available; $15 competitors (limited to 10 entries), $25 wine club, $30 non-wine club (price increase day of event) / Email events@cougarvineyards.com or purchase through our PayPal link on our events page.

Sweetheart Special Heart-themed Lunch for Two with a View / February 14 / 11:00am-6:00pm / Includes Heart shaped pizza, Caesar salad, 2 glasses of wine or beer, two heart-shaped triple chocolate Ghirardelli brownies and a long-step red rose the first 50 reservations! $30 wine club, $35 non-wine club ($3 more for gluten free pizza). Price increase day of event / Email events@cougarvineyards.com desired reserved time for Adirondacks for availability (space is limited) plus choice of pizza / PayPal link also available on our events page.

Falkner Winery

Sip N Paint Class “California Sunset” / February 13 / 6:00 -8:00pm / $35 per person/$60 for couple / Includes all materials. Wines available for purchase by glass or bottle. Members do receive applicable discounts / Reservations are required online @Artfusionbdk.myshopify.com

Valentine Lunch Specials / February 14 and 17 / 11:30-3:00pm / Valentine Lunch Special for 2 in the Pinnacle Restaurant $65 for two + tax (normal menu available) / For full menu please visit www.falknerwinery.com / Reservations required 951-676-8231 option 4

Valentine’s Dinner in the Pinnacle Restaurant / February 14 / 5:30pm-9:30pm / $129+tax per person ($119+tax wine club) / Early Bird Seating at 5:30pm $109+ tax per person ($99+tax wine club) / For full menu please visit www.falknerwinery.com / Entertainment provided by Guilty Conscience Duo / Reservations required 951-676-8231 option 4

Wine Appreciation Class / February 16 / 10:00-12:30pm / Designated for all levels of wine knowledge / $45/person /$40 Connoisseur/ $20 VIP; $80/person with lunch option / RSVP required 951-676-8231 x. 109 or wineclub@falknerwinery.com

Fazeli Winery

Salsa Night! / February 8 / No partner or experience needed! Doors Open at 6:30 with 45-minute Salsa Lesson / Admission fee is $20 for non-members (+ tax) and $15 (+ tax) for wine club members – Includes a glass of Sangria. Special Food Menu Items! Wine, Beer, Sangria available for purchase! / Purchase Tickets Here: http://shop.fazelicellars.com/res-390971/Salsa-Night-2819.html

Valentine’s Dinner / February 14 & February 16 / $130 (+ tax) | $110 (+ tax) Members (price is per person) / Doors Open at 6:30pm with Champagne Greeting, 5 Course Meal and Live Music / *Please let us know which entree selection you would like in advance. If we do not get your selection, a meal will be assigned. Purchase Tickets Here: http://shop.fazelicellars.com/reservation-events

Leoness Cellars

Starry Night in Paris / February 14 / Limited seating available beginning at 5:00pm / 5-course menu begins at $99 per person, + tax and gratuity / Make your reservation for a starry, romantic evening in The Restaurant at Leoness / Live entertainment / Reservations are required and available by calling (951) 302-7601 ext. 4

Lorimar Vineyard & Winery

Galentine’s Day / February 7 / 6:00pm-9:00pm / $10 per person / $9 Wine Club / Ticket includes a Special “Galentine’s Day Wine-Cocktail” / Join us for a Ladies Night to celebrate “Galentine’s” with your friends! Featuring Smash-Sparkling wine flights, special food menu, karaoke, photobooth, unique vendors, games, raffles, and more! *Tax is not included. This is an adult only event. Space is limited. Please call 951-694-6699 with any questions.

Valentine’s Day Dinner / February 14 / 7:00pm-9:00pm / $150 per couple* / $135 per Wine Club Couple* / Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Lorimar Winery with a sparkling greeting, 4 course prix fixe dinner for 2, and bottle of Lorimar Wine! Music provided by Kenny Rice. *Tax and gratuity is not included. This is an adult only event. Seating is very limited as this event will be inside. Couples will be seated at “Sweetheart” tables for two unless requested to sit in a group. No refunds after 7 days prior to event. Please call 951-694-6699 with any questions.

Monte De Oro Winery

Valentine’s Day Dinner / February 14 /6:30pm-9:30pm / 4-course dinner with live music from pianist Brian Stodart / $200/couple, $180/couple for wine club / For reservations and information, please visit www.montedeoro.com

Cabernet Sauvignon Blind Tasting / February 23 / 6:00pm-8:00pm / $60, $55 for wine club members / We will be sampling over 10 different offerings from various California wineries, including Temecula, Napa Valley, Sonoma, and Paso Robles / For reservations and information, please visit www.montedeoro.com

Signature Food and Wine Series / February 24 / 12:00pm-2:00pm / $55, $48 for wine club members / A culinary offering unique to Monte De Oro. Our food and wine experts put together the freshest ingredients as they take you through a 4-course showcase featuring Monte De Oro’s award-winning wine. For reservations and information, please visit www.montedeoro.com

Mount Palomar Winery

Valentine’s Day at Annata Bistro/Bar / February 14 and 15 / 6:00p-10:00p / $75++ for the general public, $70++ for the wine club / There is nothing more romantic than Valentine’s Day Dinner in Temecula wine country. We are celebrating at Annata Bistro/Bar with two beautiful evenings featuring an exclusive holiday menu, award-winning wines, and delicious craft cocktails / For reservations please visit www.MountPalomarWinery.com/Valentines-Day

Paint Nite in the Barrel Room / February 16 / 1:00pm-3:00pm / Tickets $45. Use the coupon code CREATE30 to save $15! / Raise your glass to a new kind of night out! Paint Nite® invites you to create art over a glass of wine at a Mount Palomar Winery, guided by a professional artist and party host. Grab your friends and spend two hours drinking, laughing, and flexing your creative muscles. There’s no experience necessary and we’ll provide all the supplies, so you don’t have to worry about a thing (except having a great time!) / For reservations please visit https://www.paintnite.com/venues/mt-palomar-winery-133232

ACES Comedy Live! / February 9 and 23 / Tickets $15 in advance, $20 at the door / ACES comedy is back in the barrel room at Mount Palomar Winery! Enjoy award-winning wines, cocktails, and delicious finger foods during a hilarious live show. Featuring national headliners that have performed on HBO, Showtime, Comedy Central, and more, every show is an unforgettable night of comedy / For reservations please visit https://acescomedylive.com or call 951-821-6262.

Peltzer Family Cellars

Burgers, Burritos, & Brews / February 2 / 6-10pm / $5 wristband donation benefiting the local charity Warfighter Made / Pre-game for Super Bowl Sunday here at the Crush House! Rock your favorite team jersey, grab a cold one from Refuge Brewery and challenge your crew to a *friendly* game of Cornhole. Live music from Groov Undergound 6:30-9:30pm and food truck eats from Mastiff Sausage Company and Q’s Tacos from 12-9pm. Wristbands can be purchased on site as well from peltzerwinery.com.

Paint & Sip for Autism with Pretty Paints / February 14 / 6-9pm / $55 per painter, proceeds benefit Our Nicholas Foundation / Mix up your traditional Valentine’s Day plans with a super fun couples’ step by step Paint & Sip! Create your own Birch Tree scene on a wooden mini pallet with help from a passionate instructor. Create a scene side by side with your date, or one on your own with a group of friends! We’ll all be finding our creative side / Proceeds will go directly to Our Nicholas Foundation’s Autism & The Arts Initiative. This initiative creates the opportunity for children on the Autism Spectrum too attend art courses, summer Camps and other creative outlets! (learn more at: www.ournick.org/news/autismartsinitiative)

Nashville Nights / February 23 / 6-10pm / $5 to ride the mechanical bull. Will be purchased on site / We’re gettin’ down on the farm, NASHVILLE STYLE! Join us for an all-out “Music City” experience! We’re talkin’ honky tonkin’, southern eatin’, and a night out drinkin’. Kick your boots up to the musical stylings of Kanan Road from 6:30-9:30pm. Grub on Nashville style eats from Devilicious and Mastiff Sausage Company from 12-9pm. Can y’all make the 8 second ride on our mechanical bull?! Tickets for the bull are $5 and will be available on site. This is a FREE event, but please be a good neighbor and let us know you’re coming by RSVPing on our Facebook event page. Event is for 21+ only.

Chunky Blanket Workshop with Pretty Paints / February 24 / 11:30-2pm / $85, 50% of proceeds benefit Our Nicholas Foundation. Tickets are extremely limited and sell out fast! / Join Pretty Paints for a fun Chunky Blanket Workshop here on our Crush House Patio! They will guide you step by step through the hand knitting process to create a cozy, snuggly one-of-a-kind blanket! Make one for you or one as a gift! All materials are provided. The blanket requires no needles or knitting experience! You will get 150 yards of chunky cozy yarn. Your blanket will measure about 40″ x 50″. You will have a choice of colors during class! Make a fun striped blanket, or solid! / 50% of the proceeds will go directly to Our Nicholas Foundation’s Autism & The Arts Initiative. This initiative creates the opportunity for children on the Autism Spectrum too attend art courses, summer Camps and other creative outlets! (learn more at: www.ournick.org/news/autismartsinitiative

Seats will be assigned, so please include the names in your party at check out. All supplies will be provided! Wine is not included. Class is approximately 2.5 hours long. MUST RSVP, No Walk Ins. No Sharing blankets. Payments are non-refundable but can be transferred as a courtesy one time if a notice is given at least 48 hours prior to class time. Pretty Paints and Peltzer winery are not responsible for lost or damaged personal items while in class. Must be Ages 16+ to attend, 21+ to purchase and consume alcohol. Tickets can be purchased from Pretty Paints: https://www.etsy.com/listing/661979422/feb-24-1130-2pm-peltzer-winery-chunky?ref=shop_home_active_1&frs=1

Ponte Winery

Happy Hour in The Cellar Lounge at Ponte Vineyard Inn / Every Monday-Thursday / 4pm-6pm / Free to attend / Head to Temecula Wine Country’s only cocktail bar, The Cellar Lounge at Ponte Vineyard Inn, for happy hour specials on craft beer, flatbreads, Ponte wine on tap and more! Menu items $6 and up / For more information please visit www.pontevineyardinn.com

Brunch at Bouquet Restaurant / Every Saturday & Sunday / 7:30am-3:00pm / Offering indoor & outdoor seating options, Bouquet is the perfect spot to gather for a gourmet brunch. Enjoy a relaxing ambiance with stunning fountain courtyard, pond & vineyards views / To view menu and for reservations please visit www.pontevineyardinn.com.

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa

Valentine’s Day Dinner at The Vineyard Rose Restaurant / February 14 / 5:30pm – 9:00pm / $100 per person (drinks, tax & gratuity not included) / Reserve your table and indulge in a specially prepared, romantic Valentine’s Day prix fixe dinner / Reservations are required for any size party. Please make your dinner reservations at SouthCoastWinery.com For parties of 6 or more, please call 888.253.9841 to make a reservation so we can be sure to provide you with the best service and avoid any unnecessary waiting.

Decadent Romance Package at GrapeSeed Spa / February 1 through 28 / Enjoy a relaxing & romantic spa experience with your partner / 50-minute South Coast Classic Massage for two, two glasses of South Coast sparkling wine, one box of truffles / *Based on availability / Reservation Information: Call now to book | 877.552.1731

Behind the Scenes Wine Tours / Tours are held daily at 11 AM, 1 PM and 3PM, Monday through Sunday/ $45pp; $40pp Wine Club Member or Military / Learn more about our spectacular Southern California Temecula winery with a behind-the-scenes wine tour, from vineyards to crush pad. Each tour concludes with 5 wines paired with an individual plate of specially prepared lite-bite foods, designed to enhance your wine knowledge and experience / Reservation Information: Call 866-994-6379 Ext. 7217 to reserve your spot today / Due to the limited sizes of each tour, reservations are required with prepayment, and are non-refundable. Guests must be over 21 years of age to attend.

Wiens Family Cellars

Reserve Zinfandel & Chocolate Dinner / February 14 and February 16 / 7:00pm-10:00pm / $110 Per Guest (20% Discount for Wine Club Members) / Looking for the perfect Valentine’s dinner? Join us for our seventh annual Reserve Zinfandel & Chocolate Dinner! We’ll be pouring three vintages of Reserve Zinfandel plus one vintage of Reserve Primitivo, all perfectly paired with delicious chocolate infused dishes created by Chef Volker/ For reservations please visit http://www.wienscellars.com/reservation-events

Wilson Creek Winery

Valentine’s Day Dinner / February 14 / 6pm- 9pm / Join us for a romantic evening in beautiful wine country. Enjoy an exclusive 3-course dinner designed by our Executive Chef with a special bottle of wine & a red rose to take home to make your evening even more memorable. Price: $150 per couple / Wine Club $135 per couple / To purchase tickets: https://shop.wilsoncreekwinery.com/res-416617/Valentines-Day-Dinner.html

Bubble Brunch Buffet / Every Sunday 10am-3pm / $51.95, Buffet only: $41.95, Children: $16.95 / Enjoy all your breakfast favorites, omelet stations, waffle stations, seafood stations, carving stations and dessert stations with beautiful vineyard views / Buffet (+ unlimited sparkling). Now serving Bloody Mary’s! / Reservations can be made at www.wilsoncreekwinery.com or call 951.699.9463 for additional information.

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January Winery Events

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

It’s the start of another new year and if you haven’t visited Temecula Valley Wine Country lately, now’s the time! Check out January’s calendar of events and make plans to visit us soon!

Avensole Winery
Hosted Tour & Wine Tasting /Available on Sunday of each the month / 2pm-3:30pm / For every adventure, there is discovery, for every unique place, there is a story. Take a guided journey through our lush vineyards and experience our rich heritage and handcrafted Avensole wines / Cost. $35 / Reservations required. Please call 951.252.2003 x312 to reserve.

Gourmet Cheese Artisanal Tour & Wine Tasting / Available on Friday of each month / 12pm / For the ultimate Wine Country experience, delight in an educational tour through our picturesque vineyard vistas and conclude this tour with a culinary treat of artisanal wine pairings featuring 7 Avensole wines / Cost: $75 / Reservations required online at link: http://www.avensolewinery.com/res-369934

Baily Winery
Estate Library Tasting / Every Thursday-Sunday / Available 11am-4pm / Enjoy exclusive library tasting of 5 different vintages (varietal will vary monthly). Tasting will take place at Baily Estate Tasting Room located on Pauba Road / Tours are available upon request / For reservations and pricing information please call Lisa at 951-972-9768

Callaway Vineyard & Winery
Prix Fixe Friday & Sunday at Meritage / 5pm to 8pm / For $35 guests may enjoy a starter, an entrée and a dessert / Live Music offered on Friday nights Reservation is not necessary. For menu information call 951.587.8889

Brunch Specials every Sunday at Meritage / 11am / Cost is $25 / Includes a mimosa with fresh squeezed orange juice, entrée and dessert. All food from Meritage is farm-to-table, either grown on property in restaurant garden or locally outsourced.

Callaway Winery Tours offered daily / 11am and 1pm / Tour only, $10 per person. Tour with tasting, $25 – tour includes 1 tank sample, 1-barrel sample and 4 additional tastes at the Tasting Bar / Reservations not necessary, but for 10 or more highly recommended / For more information call 951.676.4001

Carter Estate Winery and Resort
Elegant Food & Wine Pairing / $45pp; $40pp Wine Club Member / 1pm & 3pm Monday-Sunday / Reserve your place for an indulgent wine and food pairing designed to tantalize the senses. Guests enjoy five specially selected Carter Estate Winery wines paired perfectly with a variety of cured meats, artisan cheeses and accompanied with seasonal accouterments. Each pairing lasts approximately 90 minutes and is limited to just eight participants to allow for one-on-one interaction / Reservations recommended – Book a pairing on CarterEstateWinery.com

Cougar Vineyard & Winery
4th Annual Cougar Meets Italy, Movie and Wine-Judging event / January 16-17 / $10 per person / 6pm-8pm / This event will sell out!! The winery and guests will preview the “Bottle Shock” movie in the Barrel Room and then, Thursday, everyone will relive it! / Includes a glass of Cougar wine and all the popcorn you can eat. Combine with the Main Event and save!

The Main Event – Wine Judging / January 17 / 6pm-9pm / $75 Wine club, $80 Non-wine club, combine both nights for a $5 savings (price increase January 1st) / Professional, double-blind wine judging comparing Cougar wines with their Italian counterparts using the UC Davis 20-point scale / Audience wine tasting and judging with the same wines / Announcement of the wine judging results and Peoples’ Choices for each varietal / Includes four-course dinner, Cougar logo wine glass to commemorate the Event and musical accompaniment by Don Brennan / To reserve your tickets please visit www.cougarvineyards.com

Europa Village
Cooking Class – Italian / January 13 / 12pm & 2pm / Tickets: $58; Société Members $52.20 / Embark on a culinary adventure to the Campania region of Italy, led by Executive Chef and Certified Culinary Educator Dean Thomas. Discover what historical influences shaped the culture and cuisine of this region while savoring a three-course wine paired lunch / For reservations please visit www.europavillage.com and click on events.

Wine Education Class / January 20 / 12pm / Tickets: $39; Société Members $35.10 / Let Europa’s Sommelier, Dr. Doug Garman take you on a journey through Italy, sampling Europa’s Vienza Italian wines, and savor samples of fine food pairings prepared by Executive Chef Dean Thomas / For reservations please visit www.europavillage.com and click on events.

Falkner Winery
Wine Appreciation Class / January 19 / 10am -12:30pm / Designated for all levels of wine knowledge; $45/person /$40 Connoisseur/ $20 VIP; $70/person with lunch option. RSVP’s required 951-676-8231 x.109 or wineclub@falknerwinery.com

Lorimar Vineyard & Winery
Sunday Brunch Buffet / Every Sunday 11am –3 pm / $35 Adult / $31.50 WC / $15 (Ages 4-12) / Brunch includes one mimosa or glass of beer for ages 21+ / To Make a Reservation – https://shop.lorimarwinery.com/res-408083/Sunday-Brunch.html

Laugh Your Glass Off / January 31 / 7pm / $20/$18 Wine Club Members / Pairings Food Truck opens at 6:00pm / Join us for a night of laughter and wine – featuring 3 talented Comedians! / Purchase tickets online at https://shop.lorimarwinery.com/res-408948/Laugh-Your-Glass-Off.html / For mature audience only; must be 21+

Monte De Oro Winery
Syrah Blind Tasting / January 26 / 6pm-8pm / $60 / Join us for a celebration of one of California’s most popular varietal: Zinfandel. We will be sampling over ten different offerings from various California wineries, including Temecula, Napa Valley, Sonoma, Paso Robles, etc. / Epicurean appetizer, cheese and dessert pairings will accompany your tasting as well! / For reservation please visit www.montedeoro.com.

Peltzer Family Cellars

Peltzer Ice Rink / Open daily now through January 6th / 3pm-9pm / Ice Rink Bar Open Friday through Sunday 4-8:40pm / The farm is freezing over, y’all! For the first time ever Peltzer Farms will be featuring a full on Ice Rink! Ice Rink will be closed if it’s raining, for safety reasons. Ice Rink may be closed on specific dates based on private events / Admission (includes a pair of skates) General Admission $15; Kids 5 and under (with paid general admission) $11; Crush Club (wine club) members get $2 off admission prices. Admission (if you bring your own skates) General Admission $13; Kids 5 and under (with paid general admission) $9 / For additional information please visit www.peltzerwinery.com

Dueling Pianos / January 24 / 6pm-10pm / Cost: $35 / Join us in the Crush House for a dueling piano show with The Killer Dueling Pianos. You won’t want to miss out on this night of fun! Get your tix while you can! / Tickets include a complimentary glass of our Signature Drink! Crush Club Members will receive 10% off tickets and 20% off wine Q’s Tacos food truck will be here at 6:00 so you can grab a bite and a drink before the show starts at 7:00! / This is a 21+ only event. For reservations please visit www.peltzerwinery.com

Ponte Winery
Happy Hour in The Cellar Lounge at Ponte Vineyard Inn / Every Monday-Thursday / 4pm-6pm / Free to attend / Head to Temecula Wine Country’s only cocktail bar, The Cellar Lounge at Ponte Vineyard Inn, for happy hour specials on craft beer, flatbreads, Ponte wine on tap and more! Menu items $6 and up / For more information please visit www.pontevineyardinn.com

Brunch at Bouquet Restaurant / Every Saturday & Sunday / 7:30am-3:00pm / Offering indoor & outdoor seating options, Bouquet is the perfect spot to gather for a gourmet brunch. Enjoy a relaxing ambiance with stunning fountain courtyard, pond & vineyards views / To view menu and for reservations please visit www.pontevineyardinn.com.

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa
Harmonizing Hatha at the Grapeseed Spa / Every Mondays & Wednesdays / 9:00am – 10:00am This unique class enables you to find balance of body and mind. With gentle stretching, focused breathing and meditation, your instructor will take you on a journey through your personal chakras resulting in a mind and body that are more fluid and at ease / 4 people or more | $35 per person, 3 people or less | $65 per person / Spa Members | $16 per person / Reservation Information: Call 877.552.1731 to book your class.

Behind the Scenes Wine Tours / Tours are held daily at 11 AM, 1 PM and 3PM, Monday through Sunday/ $45pp; $40pp Wine Club Member or Military / Learn more about our spectacular Southern California Temecula winery with a behind-the-scenes wine tour, from vineyards to crush pad. Each tour concludes with 5 wines paired with an individual plate of specially prepared lite-bite foods, designed to enhance your wine knowledge and experience / Reservation Information: Call 866-994-6379 Ext. 7217 to reserve your spot today / Due to the limited sizes of each tour, reservations are required with prepayment, and are non-refundable. Guests must be over 21 years of age to attend.

Wilson Creek Winery
Bubble Brunch Buffet / Every Sunday 10am-3pm / $51.95, Buffet only: $41.95, Children: $16.95 / Enjoy all your breakfast favorites, omelet stations, waffle stations, seafood stations, carving stations and dessert stations with beautiful vineyard views / Buffet (+ unlimited sparkling). Now serving Bloody Mary’s! / Reservations can be made at www.wilsoncreekwinery.com or call 951.699.9463 for additional information.

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Fun Facts About Merlot

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

Considered one of the most food-friendly and approachable wines on the planet, Merlot surged to popularity in the United States in the 1990s. Now wine-lovers can find great Merlot and delicious Merlot blends from all over the world – from South America to France to Italy to right here in Temecula Valley, California.

Here are five fun facts about Merlot!*

1) Did you know the word “merlot” translates to “young blackbird” in French? The name was thought to have been given either because of the grape’s beautiful blue-black color, or blackbird’s fondness for grapes.

2) Merlot’s flavor profile fluctuates within the sweetness spectrum. Cooler climates bring out hints of berries, plum, and even tobacco. Merlot grown in hotter climates might mimic flavors found in fruitcake or chocolate.

3) A bit about Merlot blends: When Merlot first arrived in California, it mostly sold as single varietal bottlings (100% Merlot) until winemakers began blending it with other red grapes in the French Bordeaux tradition. Now, California’s Meritage wines are a signature of the state and always include Merlot as one of the essential blending grapes.

4) Merlot is so popular because of the grape’s ability to please all palates. Wines can range from very fruity simple wines to more serious, barrel-aged bottles.

5) Merlot has a high sugar content and low acidity, which makes it a very food-friendly wine, able to be paired with a variety of dishes. For example, Cabernet-like Merlots pair well with grilled meats. Softer, fruitier Merlots go well with salmon, mushroom-based dishes and greens. Light-bodied Merlots pair well with shellfish like prawns or scallops, especially if wrapped in bacon or prosciutto.

Looking for a great bottle of Temecula Valley Merlot? Check these wines out!

Falkner Winery 2015 Merlot ~ This wonderful Merlot is deep in color and abundant in flavor. Enjoy the dark cherry, blueberry, and herbaceous notes with an elegant and smooth finish. 

Leoness Cellars 2012 Vineyard Selection Merlot ~ Concentrated layers of black currant and black cherry complemented by earthy aromas typical of this vineyard. Subtle nuances of tobacco and vanilla develop through a long, velvety finish. 

Mount Palomar Winery 2012 BOV (Best of Vintage) Merlot ~ The scents are of Cherry, plum, and cola. The tastes are of sour cherry, lavender, and dark chocolate, with a touch of black pepper.

*Sourced from Snooth/Wikipedia 

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Wine Country Recipe ~ Dungeness Crab Frittata

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

Slice this frittata into thin wedges for a passed hors d’oeuvre or serve more generous portions with a tuft of salad as a first course. To dress it up for the holidays, top wedges with a dollop of crème fraîche and California sturgeon caviar. Serve with your favorite Temecula Valley Chardonnay or Sparkling Wine.

Serves 6

Ingredients
½ pound (250 g) fingerling potatoes
1-1/2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Kosher or sea salt
6 large eggs
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh chives
¼ pound fresh Dungeness crabmeat

Directions
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Put the potatoes in a baking dish just large enough to hold them. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil, season with salt, and turn to coat with the oil and salt. Bake until tender when pierced, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool, then slice into ½-inch (12 mm) pieces. Reduce the oven temperature to 400°F (200°C).

In a bowl, whisk the eggs with ½ teaspoon salt, several grinds of pepper, and the dill and chives. Stir in the crabmeat and potatoes, reserving a few larger pieces of crab for placing on the surface of the frittata later.

Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the remaining 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil. When it is hot, add the egg mixture and use a rubber spatula to distribute the crab and potato evenly. Cook without stirring for about 2 minutes, until the eggs begin to set, then place the reserved chunks of crabmeat on top. Continue cooking without stirring until the frittata is about two-thirds set, with some patches of liquid egg on the surface. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the surface is firm to the touch, about 6 minutes longer.

Remove from the oven and slide the frittata onto a cutting board. Let rest at least 15 minutes. Garnish with chopped dill, then slice into wedges and serve. The frittata is best warm, not hot.

Suggested Pairings: 

Callaway Vineyard & Winery ~ 2016 Winemaker’s Reserve Chardonnay
Flavors of green apple, tropical fruit and hints of honeysuckle. Floral scents and an oaky finish will leave you longing for more. 

Oak Mountain 2017 Chardonnay ~ This chardonnay is lightly oaked with French oak imparting rich flavors of vanilla, butterscotch, creme brulee and caramel.

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa Brut Sparkling ~ Crisp acidity and delicate yeastiness are enveloped in a rich tropical fruit aroma. A perfect change of pace!

Wilson Creek Winery Brut Sparkling Wine ~ Light and refreshing, and very fun. Great in Mimosas! A fun party sparkling wine.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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December Winery Events

Friday, November 30th, 2018

Avensole Winery
Hosted Tour & Wine Tasting /Available on Sunday of each the month / 2pm-3:30pm / For every adventure, there is discovery, for every unique place, there is a story. Take a guided journey through our lush vineyards and experience our rich heritage and handcrafted Avensole wines / Cost. $35 / Reservations required. Please call 951.252.2003 x312 to reserve.

Gourmet Cheese Artisanal Tour & Wine Tasting / Available on Friday of each month / 12pm / For the ultimate Wine Country experience, delight in an educational tour through our picturesque vineyard vistas and conclude this tour with a culinary treat of artisanal wine pairings featuring 7 Avensole wines / Cost: $75 / Reservations required online at link: http://www.avensolewinery.com/res-369934

Baily Winery
Estate Library Tasting / Every Thursday-Sunday / Available 11am-4pm / Enjoy exclusive library tasting of 5 different vintages (varietal will vary monthly). Tasting will take place at Baily Estate Tasting Room located on Pauba Road / Tours are available upon request / For reservations and pricing information please call Lisa at 951-972-9768

Callaway Vineyard & Winery
Tree Lighting Celebration / December 14 / 5:00-9:00pm / Our Annual Barrel Tree Lighting Celebration is just around the corner! Bring the kids and family to meet Santa and enjoy cookie decorating, a hot chocolate bar, Christmas Carolers, discounts on wine, gifts and so much more! Come experience the magic of Christmas in wine country at Callaway Winery! /R.S.V.P. to (951) 676-4001. Free Admission.

Prix Fixe Friday & Sunday at Meritage / 5pm to 8pm / For $35 guests may enjoy a starter, an entrée and a dessert / Live Music offered on Friday nights / Reservation is not necessary. For menu information call 951.587.8889

Brunch Specials every Sunday at Meritage / 11am / Cost is $25 / Includes a mimosa with fresh squeezed orange juice, entrée and dessert. All food from Meritage is farm-to-table, either grown on property in restaurant garden or locally outsourced.

Callaway Winery Tours offered daily / 11am and 1pm / Tour only, $10 per person. Tour with tasting, $25 – tour includes 1 tank sample, 1-barrel sample and 4 additional tastes at the Tasting Bar / Reservations not necessary, but for 10 or more highly recommended / For more information call 951.676.4001

Carter Estate Winery and Resort
Elegant Food & Wine Pairing / $45pp; $40pp Wine Club Member / 1pm & 3pm Monday-Sunday / Reserve your place for an indulgent wine and food pairing designed to tantalize the senses. Guests enjoy five specially selected Carter Estate Winery wines paired perfectly with a variety of cured meats, artisan cheeses and accompanied with seasonal accoutrements. Each pairing lasts approximately 90 minutes and is limited to just eight participants to allow for one-on-one interaction / Reservations recommended – Book a pairing on CarterEstateWinery.com

Falkner Winery
Wine Appreciation Class / December 15 / 10am -12:30pm / Designated for all levels of wine knowledge; $45/person /$40 Connoisseur/ $20 VIP; $70/person with lunch option. RSVP’s required 951-676-8231 x.109 or wineclub@falknerwinery.com

Sip N Paint Class “Personalized Ornaments” / December 20 / 6pm-8pm / $35 per person; $30 for members / Includes all materials. Wines available for purchase by glass or bottle.  Members do receive applicable discounts / Reservations are required online @Artfusionbdk.myshopify.com

Fazeli Cellars
Salsa Night
/ December 21 / Doors Open at 6:30 with 45-minute Salsa Lesson / No partner or experience needed! Admission fee is $20 for non-members (plus tax) and $15 (plus tax) for wine club members includes a glass of Sangria / Special Food Menu Items! Wine, Beer, Sangria available for purchase! /Purchase Tickets Here: http://shop.fazelicellars.com/res-390887/Salsa-Night-111618.html

New Year’s Eve Party “An Evening in Casablanca” / December 31 /$120 Non-Members | $100 Members / Includes: Champagne Greeting, 3 Course Dinner & Live Music, DJ, Dancing, Casino and a Champagne Toast at Midnight. Wine & Beer Available for purchase / Purchase Tickets Here: http://shop.fazelicellars.com/res-390943/New-Years-Eve-2018.html

Leoness Cellars
Winemaker Dinner / December 6 / 6:00pm – 10:00pm / $95 Members; $115 Non-Members, plus tax / VIP seating with owners, Mike and Lisa Rennie, in the Winder Room. $150 plus tax, no discounts. Only 16 seats available Enjoy a four course, wine-paired Winemaker’s Dinner hosted by Leoness Cellars winemaker, Tim Kramer and Executive Chef, Daragh Matheson. Sparkling wine reception under the Oak Tree and dinner following in The Restaurant at Leoness / Seating is limited / Reservations and tickets available by calling (951) 302-7601 ext.2

Lorimar Vineyard & Winery
Tree Lighting / December 2 / 5pm – 8pm / Kick off the holiday season off at Lorimar Winery with Santa, Cookies, and more! Free to enjoy but RSVP is requested by visiting us at https://shop.lorimarwinery.com/res-408801/Tree-Lighting.html

Smoke & Vine: An Evening of Cigars and Wine / December 7 / 7:00p / Tickets: $85.00 ($76.50 Wine Club) Join us for a relaxing evening on the Vineyard Lawn; including four course dinner from Chef Jorge, paired with cigars from Casa Lovo, and Lorimar award-winning wines / For reservations please go to: https://shop.lorimarwinery.com/res-408695/Smoke-Vine-An-Evening-Of-Cigars-And-Wine.html

Hanukkah / December 9 / 5pm – 8pm / Celebrate Hanukkah at Lorimar Winery with a Menorah Lighting, Latkes, and more! / Free to enjoy but RSVP is requested by visiting us at https://shop.lorimarwinery.com/res-408802/Hanukkah.html

Sunday Brunch Buffet / Every Sunday 11am –3 pm / $35 Adult / $31.50 WC / $15 (Ages 4-12) / Brunch includes one mimosa or glass of beer for ages 21+ / To Make a Reservation – https://shop.lorimarwinery.com/res-408083/Sunday-Brunch.html

Mount Palomar Winery
Paint Nite at Mount Palomar Winery / December 2, 9, 15 / 1:00p-3:00p / Tickets $45; Use the coupon code CREATE30 to save $15! / Raise your glass to a NEW kind of night out! Paint Nite® invites you to create art over a glass of wine at a Mount Palomar Winery, guided by a professional artist and party host. Grab your friends and spend two hours drinking, laughing, and flexing your creative muscles. There’s no experience necessary and we’ll provide all the supplies, so you don’t have to worry about a thing (except having a great time!) / For reservations: https://www.paintnite.com/venues/mt-palomar-winery-133232

Peltzer Family Cellars
Peltzer Ice Rink / Open daily now through January 6th / 3pm-9pm / Ice Rink Bar Open Friday through Sunday 4-8:40pm / The farm is freezing over, y’all! For the first time ever Peltzer Farms will be featuring a full on Ice Rink! Ice Rink will be closed if it’s raining, for safety reasons. Ice Rink may be closed on specific dates based on private events. Admission (includes a pair of skates) General Admission $15; Kids 5 and under (with paid general admission) $11; Crush Club (wine club) members get $2 off admission prices. Admission (if you bring your own skates) General Admission $13; Kids 5 and under (with paid general admission) $9.

Ponte Winery
Happy Hour in The Cellar Lounge at Ponte Vineyard Inn / Every Monday-Thursday / 4pm-6pm / Free to attend / Head to Temecula Wine Country’s only cocktail bar, The Cellar Lounge at Ponte Vineyard Inn, for happy hour specials on craft beer, flatbreads, Ponte wine on tap and more! Menu items $6 and up / For more information please visit www.pontevineyardinn.com

Brunch at Bouquet Restaurant / Every Saturday & Sunday / 7:30am-3:00pm / Offering indoor & outdoor seating options, Bouquet is the perfect spot to gather for a gourmet brunch. Enjoy a relaxing ambiance with stunning fountain courtyard, pond & vineyards views / To view menu and for reservations please visit www.pontevineyardinn.com.

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa
Christmas at The Vineyard Rose / December 24th – Tuesday, December 25th / Brunch: 8:00am – 3:30pm | Dinner: 5:00pm – 9:00pm /Celebrate Christmas at The Vineyard Rose Restaurant with Christmas Day brunch and Christmas Eve & Christmas Day dinner / Reservations are required. Make a reservation at SouthCoastWinery.com

Harmonizing Hatha at the Grapeseed Spa / Every Mondays & Wednesdays / 9:00am – 10:00am This unique class enables you to find balance of body and mind. With gentle stretching, focused breathing and meditation, your instructor will take you on a journey through your personal chakras resulting in a mind and body that are more fluid and at ease / 4 people or more | $35 per person, 3 people or less | $65 per person / Spa Members | $16 per person / Reservation Information: Call 877.552.1731 to book your class.

Behind the Scenes Wine Tours / Tours are held daily at 11 AM, 1 PM and 3PM, Monday through Sunday/ $45pp; $40pp Wine Club Member or Military / Learn more about our spectacular Southern California Temecula winery with a behind-the-scenes wine tour, from vineyards to crush pad. Each tour concludes with 5 wines paired with an individual plate of specially prepared lite-bite foods, designed to enhance your wine knowledge and experience / Reservation Information: Call 866-994-6379 Ext. 7217 to reserve your spot today / Due to the limited sizes of each tour, reservations are required with prepayment, and are non-refundable. Guests must be over 21 years of age to attend.

Wiens Family Cellars

New Year’s Eve 2018 Celebration / December 31 / 7pm-12:30am / $125 per guest / Join us this New Year’s Eve for our NYE dinner party! Enjoy a seated dinner followed by hours of DJ dancing to send the year 2018 off in style / For reservations please visit http://www.wienscellars.com/res-411819/New-Years-Eve-Celebration-2018.html

Wilson Creek Winery

New Year’s Eve Party / December 31 / 8 pm – 12:30 am/ Price: $150 / Wine Club $135 / Enjoy a 3-course food and wine-paired dinner with live music, a Dance Party with DJ, and a Late-Night Dessert Bar! Party Favors and an All-Night Bar included! Plan your last night of 2018, today!  / Purchase tickets: https://shop.wilsoncreekwinery.com/RESERVE.AMS

Bubble Brunch Buffet / Every Sunday 10am-3pm / $51.95, Buffet only: $41.95, Children: $16.95 / Enjoy all your breakfast favorites, omelet stations, waffle stations, seafood stations, carving stations and dessert stations with beautiful vineyard views / Buffet (+ unlimited sparkling). Now serving Bloody Mary’s! / Reservations can be made at www.wilsoncreekwinery.com or call 951.699.9463 for additional information.

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Temecula Valley Sparkling Wines for the Holidays

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

As the holiday season approaches, wine lovers will be searching for wines that complement holiday dinners and can please a wide array of palates. Whether it’s a small gathering or a large soiree, Temecula Valley sparkling wines offer something for every wine personality. Sparkling wines are ideal for special occasions, and as the holidays approach, we’ve asked our winemakers which are their favorites that will work well for holiday entertaining and gift-giving.

Thornton Non-Vintage Brut

A blend of primarily Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which gives the wine an exciting, crisp fruit character while taking on a clean and straight forward yeast flavor from the lengthy tirage time of 28 months using the méthode champenoise process. The addition of a small amount of Pinot Noir helps to round out the wine, giving it complexity and uniting the white varietals. The Thornton NV Brut has a lot of finesse along with apple, pear and tropical aromas, which meld with toasty yeast flavors, while the finish is long and creamy. $33 Bottle

South Coast Winery Sparkling Pinot Grigio

This sparkling Pinot Grigio is worlds apart from what is normally expected with this style of dry white wine. Finished as a “Brut” this is a Pinot Grigio with wonderful nuances of pears and apples, a touch of tropical fruitiness and crisp acidity. “Whenever toasting a special occasion, serve this wonderful sparkler and let the good times roll!” says winemaker Jon McPherson. $24 Bottle

Carter Estate 2014 Blanc de Blanc Sparkling

This product has been painstakingly nurtured to deliver a sparkling wine with the finesse, flavor and aroma of a fine méthode champenoise sparkling wine. The process included barrel fermentation and barrel aging of approximately 8% of the cuvee prior to the secondary fermentation. Once the Blanc de Blanc had been blended and undergone secondary fermentation, it was aged for an additional fifteen months on the yeast lees. This time on the yeast lees helped to develop the yeasty, toasty aromas, a very fine bubble bead, wonderfully full creamy textures and an extraordinary mousse. The bottle is brimming with fresh apple and delicate floral aromas; a hint of oak shows in the background with a nuance of vanilla, toasty cookie and a rich yeasty character. This wine has a very bright acidity and a refreshingly dry finish. “Definitely our finest sparkling release to date,” states winemaker Jon McPherson. $34 Bottle

Cougar Dolce

100% Estate Malvasia Bianca sparkling wine. Sweet, Muscat-like with notes of apricot, peaches and honey, for the taste buds that like more of a dessert flavor.

Oak Mountain Winery Raspberry Sparkling

This refreshing sparkling wine explodes with a slightly sweet raspberry candy touch.  Great for sipping by the pool or celebrating your special occasion.  Winner of a Silver medal – Orange County Fair Wine Competition.  Pairs well with ham, turkey, prime rib or most any main dish.  $25 Bottle

Though Temecula Valley wines can be ordered through the wineries’ online stores and shipped to most states, what better excuse to visit the destination and try the wines onsite. Temecula Valley is conveniently located in the center of Southern California, just an hour drive from San Diego, Palm Springs and Orange County and 90 minutes from Los Angeles. Many winery restaurants offer special holiday dining menus that pair wonderfully with their holiday wines. Resort, hotel, bed and breakfast inns and vacation rentals offer special packages and pricing for Sunday through Thursday stays.

 

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Pan-Seared Steak with Portobello Mushroom Sauce atop Mascarpone Polenta

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

This classic dish highlights the earthy flavors of Portobello mushrooms, the richness of mascarpone polenta and the elegance of seared, rib eye steak. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Merlot or Syrah.

Ingredients:

3 cups (750ml) water
1 cup (250ml) chicken stock
1 cup (160g) course ground polenta
1 teaspoon (5ml) salt
3 tablespoons (45g) mascarpone cheese
2 (8-ounce/225g) boneless rib eye steaks, 1½- inches (3.81cm) thick, removed from refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking
4 tablespoons (60ml) extra virgin olive oil, divided
½ pound (225g) portobello mushrooms, stems removed
2/3 cup (160ml) Temecula Valley Merlot
2/3 cup (160ml) heavy cream
1 tablespoon (15ml) balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon (2.5ml) salt
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Pour the water and the chicken stock into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.

When the water begins to simmer, whisk in the polenta and the 1 teaspoon (5ml) salt.

Stir for 5 minutes while the polenta is simmering.

Cover the polenta and turn the heat to low.

Cook for 40 minutes total stirring every 10 minutes making sure to scrape the bottom and corners of the pan.

Remove from the heat and stir in the mascarpone cheese. Cover and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 450° F (230° C).

Sprinkle both sides of the steaks generously with salt and pepper.

In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet heat 2 tablespoons (30ml) of the olive oil over medium-high heat until very hot, but not smoking. Add the steaks and sear for 2 minutes on each side.

Transfer the steaks to a shallow baking pan. (Set the skillet aside for later use.)

Roast the steaks in the oven for 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. Remove the steaks from the pan and let the steaks rest while you make the mushroom sauce.

Thinly slice the mushroom caps into half moons then slice again crosswise into 1-inch (2.5cm) pieces.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons (30ml) of olive oil in the skillet used for the steaks. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms and cook and stir until golden brown. Add the wine and reduce the liquid by half.

Add the cream and balsamic vinegar and the ½ teaspoon of salt. Cook and stir until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and cover.

To serve, spoon desired amount of polenta in the center of each plate. Top polenta with sauce and strips of steak.

Suggested Pairings:

Avensole Winery 2014 Merlot ~ This wine is unique with blackberry and black cherry fruit with subtle hints of black licorice and vanilla, framed by silky tannins and a generous finish.

Carter Estate Winery & Resort 2012 Merlot ~ This Merlot has a very long finish that is silky and firm with a shapely, tart tannic backbone.

Fazeli Cellars 2014 Shiraz ~ Silky black currant and blackberry layered with hints of vanilla, earth and black pepper. Full-bodied with a rich, lingering finish.

Monte De Oro Winery 2014 Syrah ~  Accents of cocoa bean, clove, anise, red and black peppercorns with a long gripping finish.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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