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Mushroom, Kale & Butternut Squash Pasta

Friday, October 1st, 2021

Mushroom, Kale & Butternut Squash Pasta

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

Serves 4

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

Suggested Pairings:

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

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

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

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

Recipe & photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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October Winery Events

Friday, October 1st, 2021

Grab your friends for a fun fall event!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 1st, 2021

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

Beautiful Fall Vineyard

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

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

BOLD WHITES

Peltzer Family Cellars Chardonnay

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

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

Fazeli Cellars Oaked Chardonnay

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

Leoness Cellars Viognier

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

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

 Europa Village Estate Arneis

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

HEARTY REDS:

Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery Monastrell

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

Peltzer Family Cellars Estate Sangiovese

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

Chapin Family Vineyards Montepulciano  

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

Fazeli Cellars Megregan

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

Lorimar Winery Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre

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

Wilson Creek Winery Cinsault

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

Leoness Cellars Grenache

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

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

Europa Village Primitivo

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

A LITTLE SOMETHING SWEET

Bel Vino Winery Late Harvest Blanc

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

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

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California Wine Month ~ Temecula Style!

Thursday, September 2nd, 2021

This September marks the 17th consecutive year that California’s governor has proclaimed California Wine Month; in honor of our state’s contribution as the leading wine industry in the United States.

Cheers to CA Wine Month!

September is the perfect time to visit Temecula Valley Wine Country. Besides the fact that it is our favorite month, we’ve got several events and promotions up our sleeves and we want you to celebrate with us!

Here are the highlights:

SIP Passport Program

When: Valid Monday through Friday the entire month of September (excluding the Labor Day holiday).

What: Passport for a full tasting flight at any five participating Temecula Valley wineries; includes souvenir wine glass. Passport includes discounts on wine purchases, wine club memberships and dining.

Tickets: $50 per person. For more information and tickets, click here.

#DRINKTEMECULA Social Media Challenge
Do you love social media almost as much as you love Temecula wine? Then this challenge is for you! The entire month of September, we’re inviting you to post a picture each day showing how you are celebrating wine month without comment; you nominate a friend to do the same, both of you using the hashtag #drinktemecula

Virtual Happy Hour
On Tuesday, September 21, from 4 – 5 PM Pacific, join us as we toast #CaliforniaWineMonth with a Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country happy hour! We will be sipping some amazing Temecula Valley wine and chatting about how harvest is going at so grab a glass and come hang out with us for a little mid-week wine break! #DrinkTemecula #LiveGlassFull #CaliforniaWines

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Blue Cheese and Walnut Stuffed California Figs

Wednesday, September 1st, 2021

Figs, blue cheese and walnuts soar in this wine-friendly appetizer. Invite a few friends to drop by, then assemble this super simple hors d’oeuvre with juicy California figs, creamy blue cheese, toasted walnuts and a drizzle of honey. It’s an easy app that’s ready in five minutes, max. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay.

CA Grown Happy Hour at Home: Credit CA Grown

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 8 fresh California figs, halved  
  • ¼ pound (125 g) blue cheese, such as Point Reyes Farmstead Original Blue or Bay Blue 
  • ½ pound (250 g) walnuts, toasted and chopped 
  • Honey for drizzling 

Directions:

Cut the figs in half. Cut a small slice off the curved side so the figs stay stable. Place the figs on a serving plate and top each fig with a nugget of blue cheese. Sprinkle generously with the walnuts. Drizzle with honey. Serve immediately.    

Suggested Pairings:

Avensole Winery ~ 2020 Chardonnay – Notes of tropical fruit are balanced with minerality and stone fruits as they greet the palate, followed by a luxurious, creamy vanilla finish.

Chapin Family Vineyards ~ 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon – Provides an array of smooth flavors such as blueberry, mocha, plum and vanilla. 

Monte De Oro Winery ~ 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon – Classic black cherry, plums, and craisins come alive when you start drinking it, with brown sugar, black pepper, and fennel rounding out the taste.

Peltzer Winery ~ 2019 Chardonnay – Yellow apple, apricot, and lemon meringue pie.

Recipe and photo courtesy of CA Grown and the Wine Institute of California

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September Winery Events

Wednesday, September 1st, 2021

Nothing screams “Harvest Time!” more than a good old-fashioned grape stomp! Between harvest and California Wine Month, September is always a busy time in Temecula Valley Wine Country and our wineries are busy planning a few celebrations of their own.

Sipping through harvest

Akash Winery 
Comedy Night | September 3rd at 7:30pm | $25 per person | A night of nonstop fun with wine, food, and comedy on our patio. Food truck available onsite. Member discounts apply. | For reservations, please visit www.akashwinery.com/events  

Bel Vino Winery 
Journey Tribute Concert | September 10th 6pm-10pm | ESCAPE is the Ultimate Journey Tribute band that faithfully re-captures the thrill generations of JOURNEY fans remember. Playing all the classics such as: Don’t Stop Believin’, Anyway You Want It, Open Arms and more!!!  Contact heyday.com for your tickets. 

Callaway Vineyard & Winery 
Sip, Stomp & Play Annual Grape Stomp and Harvest Festival | September 11th | Tickets: $125.00 General Public, $112.50 Wine Club Members, $90.00 Kids ages 4-11 | Grape stomping time has officially arrived, and you won’t want to miss out on this epic event! Grab your friends and family for this unforgettable, undeniably fun-filled grape stomp and harvest festival. Featuring: Live music, dinner, dancing, face painting, a Lucy look-alike contest, and, most of all, grape stomping contests! Show up in your most fabulous Lucille Ball costume for a chance to win prizes. Tickets include admission to the event, one glass of Callaway wine, dinner, wine specials and grape stomping. Purchase tickets at our San Diego – Gaslamp and Temecula tasting rooms or online at www.callawaywinery.com  

Danza del Sol Winery 
Small Bites with Chef Jillian | Sept. 4th 10am-12pm | Food Pairing with New Release Wine. Member $15 | Guest $18 | Reservations required please visit our website.  

Summer Send Off BBQ | Sept. 26th 11am-2pm | Live Music and raffle prizes | Members $18; Non-members $22 | Reservations required please visit our website.  

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

Foot Path Winery  
Food Wine and Music Event | September 18th 6:30 to 9:00pm | $35.00 wine club, $40.00 non-wine club. Includes a glass of wine, food, and live music | Please RSVP to the winery at (951) 265-9951. 

Lorimar Vineyards & Winery
Harvest Ball | September 11 6:00pm-10:00pm | General Admission $125 per person, $110 Wine Club per person | Enjoy a 4-course dinner with wine pairings, dancing, carriage rides and complimentary professional photos | Reservations required please visit www.lorimarwinery.com to purchase your tickets.

Monte De Oro Winery 
Wine Bingo | Sept. 10th 6:30p-9:00p | It’s time for Bingo, Monte De Oro style! Join us for a night of calling numbers and sipping your favorite MDO wine! Tickets are $40. Tickets includes Bingo Card (6 Bingo Games), Glass of Wine, and 3 Raffle Tickets | To purchase your tickets please visit https://shop.montedeoro.com/res-397911/Wine-Bingo.html  

Signature Food & Wine Series | Sept. 19th 11:30am-1:30pm | Tickets are $70 for Non-WC Members and $65 for WC Members | Our Signature Food & Wine Series is a culinary offering unique to Monte De Oro. Our food and wine experts put together the freshest ingredients as they take you through a multi-course showcase featuring Monte De Oro’s award-winning wine | To purchase your tickets please visit https://shop.montedeoro.com/res-397912/Signature-Food-Wine-Series.html  

Oak Mountain Winery 
Country Concert headliner Brent Payne | September 25th 7pm-9pm | Tickets $85 general admission and $75 for members. Ticket price includes one trip to the BBQ buffet | Beer and wine cash bar | Reservations required at https://shop.oakmountainwinery.com/brent-payne-country-concert-guests-p292.aspx 

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa  
Country Concert featuring Coffey Anderson |September 2nd Doors open at 6pm | Join us as we kick off our 20th Anniversary celebration with a live Country performance from Coffey Anderson with opener Kanan Road. Tickets starting as low as $45 | For reservations please visit https://www.southcoastwinery.com/concerts/country-concert-series. More concert and ticket announcements to come! 

Wilson Creek Winery 
Jerrod Neimann Concert | September 12 Doors open at 6pm | General Admission $60; Wine Club $54 | Orchestra Assigned Seating $95; Wine Club $85.50 | Upper Room VIP Wine Club Only $200 (dinner and wine included with your ticket) | Join us under the stars in the heart of wine country for an amazing up close and personal country concert with Jerrod Neimann! Tickets on sale now at https://shop.wilsoncreekwinery.com/res-418860/Jerrod-Niemann-Concert.html   
 

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It’s Official: Harvest is Here!

Wednesday, September 1st, 2021

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at What Goes on in the Vineyard and Winery Before, During, and After Harvest in Temecula Valley

Evening Harvest

Equipment has been washed and sanitized. Bins have been readied. Summer vacations have been enjoyed, bodies rested and refueled for the work to come.

And then it begins. That perfect brix reading on the refractometer, telling winemakers and vineyard managers that the sugars in the grapes are where they want them to be. A quick sampling of a few berries straight off the vine indicate perfect phenolic ripeness – the grape skins have lost unpleasant, bitter flavors and have softened into something that will produce delicious, balanced wine. It’s go-time – the official kick-off of harvest. And it’s all underway in Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country right now.

This is a busy time in the vineyard and the winery, and no day is the same. We caught up with a few Temecula Valley winemakers and winery staff to check in on how it’s all going, and what a typical day might look like at the winery during harvest. We also asked them if they have any superstitious, pre-harvest rituals and found out that winemaking isn’t all science and agriculture… it’s also a little bit of magic as well.

THE PREP

For the team at Peltzer Farm & Winery, the days leading up to harvest contain an energy shared by all. “Harvest season is usually an exciting state of limbo,” says Tasting Room Manager Danae Wager. “The grapes tell US when they’re ripe, so we wait on the sidelines in anticipation as the season begins. Typically, farmers wait until dark to pick the fruit, which preserves the sugar and acid levels needed to curate the desired end result that ends up in the bottle.” 

Oak Mountain Winery owner Valerie Andrews paints a picture of the days and weeks leading up to the big moment when harvest officially begins:

“Oak Mountain’s harvest routine is to hurry and bottle everything in the tanks so we will have room for harvest. Next, we wash and test all equipment, as it has been sitting all year. Steve, by this time, has ordered yeasts and supplies so we are ready when Mother Nature says ‘go.’ We check last year’s timing of when we picked grapes and start testing sugar levels, then cross our fingers that we can get pickers to pick when we are ready. Fortunately, it always works out! Now it’s time for a glass of wine.”

Nick Palumbo, owner and winemaker at Palumbo Family Vineyards and Winery, compares prepping for harvest to getting ready for a busy night of service at a restaurant.

“[It’s like] Mise en Place,” he explains. “This is a French term often used in professional cooking that roughly translates into ‘Get your act together!’ But what it really means is, before you get started, gather all you will need, do your prep work and make sure everything is in place. The best run restaurants as well as wineries know this well and plan ahead. Harvest is and can be unpredictable, chaotic and fast-paced but if you are ready it can also be smooth and predictable.”

Some pre-harvest rituals are more superstitious. “We bury 11 pennies in the ground on the first day of harvest,” says Sharon Cannon, Director of Operations for Akash Winery. “It’s an Indian good luck tradition that [Co-owner] Mrs. Patel started for the winery.”

Or they’re just plain sensible:

Says Joe Wiens, winemaker at Wiens Family Cellars: “We don’t really have any pre-harvest rituals besides stocking up the fridge with beer!”

THE REAL WORK

So once all of the pieces are in place, what does an actual day of working harvest look like?


Joe Wiens shares a snapshot of what the day-to-day can look like during this exciting time in Wine Country:

“We typically get in at 6 or 7 AM.  One of us will start with turning caps on our fermenting reds, while the other weighs the newly delivered fruit.  We taste the fermenting reds (not the most fun thing in the world at 6am!) and decide if anything is ready for pressing.  The remainder of our workday entails racking settling wines, pressing and processing, and running lab analysis.”

While it’s exhausting work, Joe credits the sense of community and shared responsibility for getting them through it. “Our team has been together for years, and everyone is trained on many of our responsibilities from processing, to preparing yeast additions, to lab analysis and data entry,” he says. “We get the music going early and all work really well together to make the long days feel shorter.”

“Our days here at Palumbo start as early as 2 am and can last well into the night,” shares Nick Palumbo. “Then off to sleep for a few hours before starting again. We are a small, family winery so everyone gets involved. We are in the field sorting leaves out of the bins, then off to the crush pad for processing, fermenting, pressing, and barreling. There is a lot to do but somehow, we get it done each year. As we have always said we don’t have a choice; it will get done somehow.”

“A typical day consists of early morning vineyard visits to collect grape samples for analysis, brix and temperature readings on all fermenting wines, smelling the top of each fermenting tank to make sure there are no ‘off’ odors or nutrient deficiencies, and most importantly, tasting each lot daily,” explains Olivia Bue, Winemaker at Robert Renzoni Vineyards.

“And, once the reds come in, the real harvest bootcamp begins, with pumpovers three times a day, with at least three hours off in between. This involves sanitizing all hoses and pumps before and after each lot. As the reds approach the end of alcoholic fermentation its time press the wine off the skins… Each day consists of a lot of cleaning and scrubbing.”

Olivia says the hardest part of her day is when the alarm goes off at 3 AM. It’s also incredibly rewarding with moments of beauty as well. “[I love] processing the grapes as the sun rises,” she says. “I also love when the last lot is pressed out – not because harvest is over, but because I can look back and feel proud of all the blood, sweat, and tears put into the vintage.”

She also loves the team building that happens over their traditional 9AM happy hours.

Over at Wilson Creek, the day-to-day looks similar. And they get ready for the mammoth task ahead by going out for pizza and beer the Friday before harvest begins.

“We start picking at 10 PM and, depending upon the varietal, we finish with the harvest crew at 3 am,” says Wilson Creek Winery winemaker Gus Vizgirda. “The cellar crew kicks in on the crushpad at 4 AM. Whites are crushed and pressed and put in the tanks. Reds are crushed and put in the tank for two weeks for fermentation.”

With a total of 140 acres to harvest, this goes on for about 2.5 months, with two crews of twenty people working seven days a week. This hard work is recognized and rewarded in two ways. First, Gus arrives every morning at sunrise when the grapes are on the crushpad, and he plays the bugle for everyone – including the grapes.

Head on over to Lorenzi Estate Wines and you will see their crew at 3 AM, planning the day, taking readings, doing pumpovers, and picking crop starting around 4 AM, with the goal of being done by lunchtime so that they can avoid that Southern California midday heat in early Fall.

At Gershon Bachus, the dawn patrol continues, with the picking crew arriving around 3AM as well to pick the fruit and drop it at the winery’s production area.

“Our team arrives by 7AM,” explains Gershon Bachus owner Christina Falik and winemaker Dakota Denton. “For our hillside vineyards, we have a team picking out the leaves and bad clusters as the grapes take a ride on the elevator. The winemaking staff secures the connections to our concrete tanks where the fruit will go through fermentation.  Then the pumpovers begin in order to make sure the must stays wet. This is done twice per day, until fermentation is done. Harvest for us goes fast, and is intense, as the fruit tends to ripen at a similar pace.”

What many people don’t realize is just how physically demanding harvest and winemaking are, requiring long hours, heavy-lifting, and early starts. “On a complicated day you can crush/destem, pump over, press, and move wine into barrels,” continues Christina. “This is not a day for the weary.”

The excitement – and work! – of harvest isn’t limited to those working in the vineyards or cellar. Oftentimes, the experience is shared by everyone at the winery.

“We love to gather and watch or participate in picking the fruit and making memories together,” says Danae at Peltzer. “Seeing the process firsthand and learning exactly how each grape is processed reignites our passion for farming and high-quality winemaking. We typically order pizza and invite the families of our staff to join in the festivities and ask as many questions as possible!” 

THE AFTERMATH

And when it’s all over? At Wilson Creek, once harvest is complete, the team has a huge – and well-deserved – harvest party among the vines.

And they’re not the only ones celebrating a job well done. “Our end-of-harvest ritual is a PARTY,” says Christina. “Since our season is so short, it precedes the holiday season and is just as festive.”

Photo courtesy of Matthew Burlile- Instagram: @temeculaphotography

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Mid-Week Wine Tasting Guide

Thursday, August 5th, 2021

For many, summer vacation is quickly coming to an end.  But, how about squeezing in one more little get-a-way before the dog days of summer are over?

Summertime Sipping!

Whether you can get away overnight, or just want to take a day trip, a mid-week visit to Temecula Valley Wine Country should prove to be a relaxing and enjoyable break.

There are many advantages to visiting wine country during the week.  Much less busy weekdays are the perfect opportunity to allow yourself time to enjoy our 40+ member wineries’ offerings.  At a slower pace, you’ll be able to enjoy more one-on-one time with the knowledgeable wine servers (or even the winemakers and/or winery owners themselves if you’re lucky) at each of your stops.

In addition, the tasting prices tend to be lower during the week than on the weekends and some wineries even offer additional discounts if you’re tasting during the week.  And, if we haven’t convinced you yet….there’s no waiting in line to dine at our wonderful wine country restaurants that are very busy on the weekends. If you’d like to spend the night you’ll be pleased with the selection of hotels and their reduced mid-week rates.  Hotels in the area are generally booked months in advance on the weekends.

For a really special weekday deal, check out the SIP Passport. This passport allows you to visit any five wineries of your choice for $50.  Click here to purchase your passport.

While we’d love to see you at any time here in Temecula Valley Wine Country, give us a try on a Wednesday sometime….we think you’ll be glad you did!

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Grilled Fish Tacos

Thursday, August 5th, 2021

You can use any kind of fish for these grilled tacos, or shrimp if you prefer. Pacific halibut is lean, with thick flakes, and easy to grill. Offer the salsa separately so lovers of spicy food can add as much as they like, and others can pass. Of course, pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Rosé or Sauvignon Blanc.

Grilled Fish Tacos

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • Scant ½ teaspoon whole cumin seed or ground cumin 
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt 
  • Scant ½ teaspoon paprika 
  • 1 pound skinless Pacific halibut, preferably in 1 piece 
  • Olive oil 
  • 1 heart of romaine, dark green outer leaves removed 
  • 1/3 cup crema (Mexican-style sour cream) or sour cream 
  • Canned chipotle chile en adobo or chipotle hot sauce, optional 
  • 8 corn tortillas 
  • 16 cherry tomatoes 
  • 1 small avocado, halved, pitted, and sliced lengthwise 
  • Coarsely chopped cilantro 
  • Salsa verde, store-bought or homemade 

Directions:

If using whole cumin seed, toast it in a small dry skillet over medium heat until it darkens and becomes fragrant. Let cool, then pound fine in a mortar or grind in a spice grinder. In a small bowl, combine the cumin, salt, and paprika. Brush the fish all over with olive oil, then season with the spice mix. Refrigerate on a plate for 30 minutes. 

Prepare a hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to high. 

Cut the romaine in half lengthwise, then slice thinly crosswise. Set aside. Put the crema in a small bowl. Whisk in enough cold water to make it thin enough to drizzle. If desired, whisk in finely minced chipotle chile or hot sauce to taste. 

Wrap the corn tortillas in aluminum foil or a clean kitchen towel. Bring an inch of water to a boil over high heat in the bottom of a steamer. Put the tortilla package in the steamer basket, cover, and steam for 1 minute. Then turn off the heat and let stand for 10 minutes.  

In a small bowl, toss the cherry tomatoes with enough olive oil to coat them lightly. Season with salt. Put them on a small heatproof stainless grill tray or other heatproof baking dish and set on the grill directly over the flame. Cook until the tomatoes are sizzling and lightly charred, about 3 minutes. Set aside. 

Place the halibut on the grill rack and grill without turning until the flesh just flakes, 8 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness. Transfer to a platter and divide the fish into 8 pieces of roughly equal size. 

To assemble the tacos, put 2 hot tortillas on each of 4 plates. Top each tortilla with some of the shredded romaine, then with a piece of fish. Divide the tomatoes and avocado slices among the tacos. Drizzle crema over the fish, top with cilantro and put a lime wedges on each plate. Serve immediately, passing the salsa verde separately. 

Suggested Pairings:

Briar Rose Winery ~ 2019 Rosé Fume

Frangipani Winery ~ 2019 Sauvignon Blanc

Mount Palomar Winery ~ 2017 Sangiovese Rosé

Vindemia Winery ~ 2018 Sauvignon Blanc

Recipe & photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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August Winery Events

Thursday, August 5th, 2021

August kicks off harvest season in wine country. The fruit is hanging heavy on the vines and visitors can enjoy the stunning views as they take in an exciting variety of summer events including movies in the vines, happy hours and plenty of outdoor live music.

Summertime Events

Bel Vino Winery  
Estate Wine Launch Party | August 12th at 6:00pm | Enjoy Food, Music & Wine. Hosted by winemaker George Bursick and owner Mike Janko. | Tickets are $86. Wine club members receive 10% off. Tickets must be purchased by July 29th. Please email macey@belvinowinery.com.

Elton John Tribute Concert | August 6th at 6:00pm
Madonna Tribute Concert | August 27th at 6:00pm
Tickets may be purchase through at Heyday.com. Ages 16+ only.

Callaway Vineyard & Winery
Save-the-Date! September 11th – Sip, Stomp & Play Annual Grape Stomp and Harvest Festival. Tickets: $125.00 General Public, $112.50 Wine Club Members, $90.00 Kids ages 4-11. Ticket includes admission to the event, one glass of Callaway wine, dinner, wine specials and grape stomping. Purchase tickets at our San Diego – Gaslamp and Temecula tasting rooms or online at www.callawaywinery.com

Danza del Sol Winery
Paint Your Pet Party 3:00pm | August 1 |Tickets purchased through Shelley Garth @ www.paintyourpetpartyie.com or call 951-288-7536. Member: $50 | Non-member: $55

Foot Path Winery
Food Wine and Music | August 21st  6:30 – 9:00pm | $35 wine club $40 non-wine club. Please call the winery for reservations at 951-265-9951.

Longshadow Ranch Winery
Matchbox Twenty Too Tribute concert at sunset!  August 6th |$10 pre-sale online, $15 ticket at the door, $175 VIP table for up to ten. Purchase online at Longshadowranchwinery.com

Monte De Oro Winery
70’s Themed Disco Wine Bingo on the Patio | August 7th Doors open 6:30pm. Bingo starts 7:00pm | Price $40.00 per person – includes 7 Bingo Games, 1 glass of wine and 3 raffle tickets. Wine prizes over $1,200 in retail value. Purchase online at www.montedeoro.com

Signature Food & Wine Pairing Lunch |August 8 – 11:30am | 2-Hour lunch, 4-course wine pairing lunch. Reservations required – $65.00 per person. Please visit www.montedeoro.com

Oak Mountain Winery
Cause Fur Paws Fundraiser | August 21st 6:00 – 9:00pm | Food, wine, blind auctions, best dressed dog prizes and more. | $15 donation for admittance include 1 glass of wine or beer.

Peltzer Family Cellars
Don’t miss Nashville Nights down on the Farm on August 21st from 4-10pm featuring three acts! Tickets range from $30 – $100 and can be purchased at peltzerwinery.com.

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa
Join us for live Jazz performances on August 1st (Brian Simpson, Steve Oliver & Will Donato) and August 15th (Michael Paulo, Adam Hawley & Darryl Williams) | Shows begin at 7:00pm |Tickets available now starting at $65. https://www.southcoastwinery.com/concerts/jazz-concert-series

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