Wine & Travel

Snooth User: Eric Tinch

Temecula in July

Posted by Eric Tinch, May 27, 2012.

Disapointed with my search results for Temecula. Most were from 2010...

Anyway, we are going on a family vacation in the area and I need some assistance in choosing a few wineries to hit.  Most of my research so far has been the wineries' websites, which are obviously biased.  However, based on this I am thinking about Doffo, Wiens, and Wilson Creek for the almond champagne.  Any opinions or recomendations?

We mostly drink Cabs and Zins, but we aren't picky :).

 

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Reply by EMark, May 28, 2012.

I don't know how helpful this might be, Eric, but the best Temecula wine I ever tried, and it was outstanding, was a 1997 Sangiovese from Mount Palomar Winery bottled under the Castelletto label.  I went to the Mt. Palomar web site and saw that they still have a Castelletto bottling in addition to numerous other wines--reds, whites, dessert, they appear to be all over the place. 

Thorton Winery does sparkling wines.  So, it has its own festive appeal.  Years ago I purchased a couple bottles of the Thornton Cuvee Rouge which is a red sparkler.  Not really a great wine, but it was fun and went reasonably well with our Thanksgiving meal.  Thornton received some press about a year ago for fruit flavored sparklers.  So, they have things like pomegranate or rasberry flavored offerings.  Not my kind of thing, but if it draws customers and gets people to try wine, then I'm OK with that.

After your trip, Eric, come back to us and let us know what you found.

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Reply by JonDerry, May 28, 2012.

It's a well known fact that Temecula is not often discussed and less often ventured by members of this board, though an old thread was brought back yesterday, about how Hungarian wines suffering a similar problem as Temecula...not enough people know or care about the wines to change the perception. I'm not sure Temecula deserves a better perception, it probably does, though there is a lot of good work to be done in promoting Hungarian wines.

However, for Californians, Temecula benefits tremendously from a geographical perspective, they are however trumped by Napa/Sonoma in quality, and the Central Coast most often by quality and with competitive pricing. At least that's the perception, maybe you'll be able to forge some new ground.

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Reply by dmcker, May 28, 2012.

Don't know if you saw this in your search, but here's a thread from a couple of months ago. It's as decent a starting point as you'll find here, or most anywhere for that matter. Temecula suffers from a lack of focus, historically in their drive for across-the-board quality and consistency, and more recently in their community marketing efforts.

As Mark and Jon both inferred, it'll be useful for all of us if you can bring us back stories and tasting notes about your experiences during your upcoming visit. And if I may ask, what made you choose Temecula (as opposed to any other location) for a family vacation?

Cheers.

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Reply by Eric Tinch, May 28, 2012.

I will for sure bring back my experiences.

As for the choosing Temecula, my wife's parents decided a few years ago to stop getting us Christmas gifts.  Instead they rent a house somewhere during the summer for the entire family to gather.  This year the vote actually resulted in San Diego, but they had trouble finding a suitable house.  So they moved northward up to the Dana Point/Laguna Beach area and found one.  With Temecula so close, we will spend a day or two out that way.

Thanks for the link dmcker.  I did skim that one, but I missed a few good posts in the middle.

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Reply by lakenvelder, May 28, 2012.

The Temecula only produces about .5% of the states grape wine production so it is one of the smallest area in the state. Not sure why it has not obtained any real following but dmuker and Jonderry have some good reasons.  I hope you care able to visit some of the wineries and give us some updates.

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Reply by EMark, May 31, 2012.

Eric, for the last several months I've felt guilty that I had not visited the Temecula wine country, an hour's drive from the Larson adobe, in many years.  So, yesterday, we drove down and spent the day.  It was a lot of great.  To me the wine tasting experience is just plain fun.  While I bought several bottles to take home, I can't say that in my very limited research I found a Temecula wine that is "drop dead gorgeous."

We visited three wineries:

  • Doffo
  • Mount Palomar
  • Hart

We certainly drove past many more.  So, I will have to continue the research on those another time. 

Each of these three had things that made them attractive.  Each had things I did not care for.  (I'm going to get one thing off my chest right now.  Two of them had tip jars on the counter in the tasting room.  I'd never seen that before.  As much as I liked the tasting room folks in each of the rooms, I chose not to tip.  I figured that between the tasting fee and the winery prices I was paying for the bottles that I bought, I was providing sufficient support.) 

Doffo Winery

I had never heard of Doffo Winery until I read your original post.  I looked at their website and was very intrigued.  I think I want to go to one of their parties.  I’m sure you saw their party pictures in their photo gallery.

All the Temecula wineries are on or just off Rancho California Rd. which intersects I-15 at the southern end of the town of Temecula.  Doffo is one of the farthest wineries from the freeway.  When we arrived, about 11:45, the parking lot was empty.  I suspect that may people spending a day of winetasting in Temecula start with the wineries closest to the freeway and work their way east until they decide they are finished.  The upshot is that Peggy and I received very personalized attention from the tasting room lady--very cool. 

The tasting fee is $10 and they were pouring 6 wines:

  • Two wines--a Sauvignon Blanc and a Semillon
  • Two reds--a Syrah and a Zinfandel
  • One Sparkling white wine
  • One Muscat dessert wine

Peggy and I shared a taste, so we spent $10.

The first wine was a 2010 Sauvignon Blanc.  The tasting room lady said that since this wine had been in the bottle so long, it had changed to highlight the fruit content.  I don't know if that was the reason, but it was like no other SB that I've ever had, and I have had more than a few.  This wine had all kinds of pear and tropical fruit hints.  It was something like a Chenin Blanc.  No sugar, but definitely fruity.  We were baffled and she seemed to understand our confusion.  She told us that the 2011 SB had just been bottled and it was more like a "standard" example.  She opened up a bottle of the 2011, and immediately I smelled and tasted the traits that I normally associate with Sauvignon Blanc--grassy, acidic (citrus) refreshing.

Next we had the Semillon, and that one was very very refreshing--light, only slightly tart, a good summer wine.

The 2010 Zinfandel was back to the weird stuff.  The tasting room lady warned us that owner/winemaker Marcelo Doffo creates a "fruit bomb" with his Zinfandel.  Well, OK, I'm used to hearing a lot of people gripe that all California wines are "fruit bombs."  Interesting, though, that this winery touts theirs as one.  Well, believe it or not, this is the "Mother of All Fruit Bombs."  I started giggling when I tasted it.  I am a Zinfandel bigot, and I have never tasted anything like this before.  I ended up buying a bottle, because I know that someday I am going to shock the heck out of someone with this thing.

The 2010 Syrah was the return to normalcy.  A very good wine, full-bodied, blackberry flavors, nice tannin that I love to give support to aging potential.  This was my favorite wine at Doffo.

Peggy really liked the Paulina Sparkling Wine--which is made for Doffo by Woodbridge Champagne Cellars in Lodi.  I thought it was OK.  There is no indication of sweetness on the label (e.g., Brut, Extra Dry or anything like that) but there is slightly noticeable sugar in it.  I would say that if you are familiar with California sparklers that are labeled "Brut," you would have an idea of the sweetness of this.

Peggy also really liked the Late Harvest Muscat.  It's not as rich as a lot of dessert wines, and, in my opinion, it could use a tad more acid, but it was OK

One of the other reasons I wanted to go to Doffo was because I noticed that they sell their own Chimichurri sauce.  I thought this was hilarious. Making Chimichurri is not very hard, but later in June we are meeting up with a friend who is just gonzo about Peggy's version of it.  I am going to gift Keith with a jar of genuine, made by Argentinian immigrant, California winery owners Chimichurri.

Mount Palomar Winery

While Doffo Winery is a very attractive family owned winery, Mount Palomar is the other end of the business--a corporate owned winery theme park.  Compared to Doffo the parking lot is huge.  You have to wander around a bit to find the tasting room—past the Giardino Oliva, past the Shorty’s Bistro, past the events patio, beneath the wedding area—and all the employees wear cork name tags.

The tasting room is understandably larger than Doffo and they have two tasting room ladies.  When we arrived there were 6-7 people there, and it was clear that they had been enjoying a few hours of wine tasting, already.

The program in the tasting room is that for $10 you can pick six tastes from a list of about 20 wines.  At, I presume, the Mount Palomar web site Peggy had found a coupon for 2-for-1 tasting.  So, for $10 she was able to pick 6 white wines and I picked 6 red wines.

Remember I previously raved about the 1997 Mount Palomar Castelletto Sangiovese?  Well I don’t have the same rave for the current version.  It’s OK and certainly drinkable, but it is not “winner, winner” like the ’97.  Of the reds that I drank the best two were Syrah (again) and Charbono—both full-bodied, both with some fruit, noticeable spice in the Syrah and both with nice, firm tannins.  I bought samples of these two.

I also tasted their Zinfandel and, again a very unusual treatment of this grape.  Very light (for a red) bodied.  Not a whole lot of complexity, very little tannin.  It probably works well for some people but not for me.

Their winemaker, Craig, was in the tasting room chatting with some visitors.  If I was patient, I probably could have waited until it was appropriate and struck up a conversation with him, but I wasn’t patient.

The tasting room ladies are well trained, enthusiastic and quite sociable.  I’m sure that, previously, they probably worked as tour guides at Disneyland.

After the tasting we went to the Mount Palomar Winery restaurant—Shorty’s Bistro—for lunch.  Peggy also found a coupon for that.  The restaurant is a very pleasant outdoor setting next to one of the gardens.  On Mondays through Thursdays during lunch they have a half-price deal for bottles of wine, but I was trying to pace myself.  After tasting (and not spitting) at two wineries, adding more wine during lunch would probably not be that smart.  So, I went for water (hydrate, hydrate).  The food is nothing to write home about.  We did have an Ahi Poke appetizer, and that, actually, was pretty good (It’s hard to mess up raw fish, but, happily, even the fried wontons were not burnt.)  I had a spinach lasagna entrée, and Peggy had an Italian Baguette sandwich.  Both were quite forgettable.  However, it did get something into my stomach so that I could continue to our last winery.

Hart Winery

We are now back to a family-owned enterprise.  In fact I suspect that Hart Winery might be the oldest family-owned winery in the Temecula Valley.  I believe Joe Hart started up in 1980.

Hart is the first winery that you come to on Rancho California Road after leaving the I-15 freeway.  Remember I mentioned that the Doffo tasting room was empty, and my theory was that it was because they were far from the freeway?  Well the corollary to that is that the closest winery to the freeway attracts the most people to their tasting room.  The Hart tasting room was the smallest of the three, and, when we first arrived, we could not get to the counter. 

Tastings at Hart are $10 and you get to pick six from a list of eleven wines.  Peggy and I shared a tasting, again.  Some quick notes on some the wines we tasted:

  • 2010 Rousanne—Light, refreshing, again, another crisp wine that I would love on the patio in the summer.
  • 2010 Sauvignon Blanc—crisp, tart, very slight grass, somewhat noticeable grapefruit flavor.  Just what I expect from an SB
  • 2009 Sangiovese—Medium-bodied, nice acid, nice tannin, probably a good food wine.
  • 2009 Barbera—Similar characteristics to the Sangiovese.  A good representation of this Italian grape.  I have posted on Snooth about my recent  Barbera epiphany.  There was no way I was going to leave this tasting room without trying this.
  • 2009 Zinfandel—I tasted three Zins at three wineries.  This is the only one of the three that reminds me of an Amador County or, to a lesser extent, a Dry Creek Valley Zin.  Strong, brambly, tannic.
  • 2009 Syrah—Full-bodied, big flavors, good tannin.  Possibly, my favorite wine of the day.  (Think I'm in a Syrah rut?)  Look forward to having this big boy with a grilled tri-tip.

Here is the very cool thing about the Hart tasting room.  Joe Hart was there chatting with people.  The tasting room lady, whose name I discovered is Kelly, said that he is there most weekdays.  Day-to-day operation of the winery is now the responsibility of son Jim.  Joe is a very friendly guy, and, as you can imagine, appears ready to talk about any wine topic for as long as you want to stand there.  Peggy and I had met Joe at a Cal Poly dinner many years ago, and, while he did not specifically remember us, he did remember the event.  We then reminisced about mutual acquaintances.

Some quick bullets that I’ll pass along, Eric:

  • Temecula is all over the place with grapes.  Growers are still looking for the grape that is best expressed in Temecula Valley.  There is a very wide array of Italian grapes (everybody does Sangiovese, but I also saw Charbono, Barbera, Cortese—tasting room lady Heather was very impressed when I mentioned that Cortese was the Gavi grape—Aleatico), most of the usual French suspects (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec (Doffo, of course), Merlot, Chardonnay, Semillon, Syrah, Cinsaut, Viognier, Rousanne), Zinfandel, Riesling.  The only thing you cannot find is Pinot Noir.  It is much too hot in Temecula for PN.
  • Temecula Valley wines seem to be a tad lower in alcohol than most other California wines.
  • Many of the larger wineries appear to have restaurants affiliated with them.  While I denigrated the food at Mount Palomar, the ambience was quite pleasurable, and, so, the overall experience was fun.  I assume that most of the winery-affiliated restaurants offer good experiences and similar menus.
  • Check on line for coupons.  I mentioned the ones we found for Mount Palomar, but I know that other wineries offer them
  • You mentioned that you were renting a house in the South Orange County area.  I would estimate that you should budget a good hour’s drive time via Ortega Highway to the Temecula wine country.
  • All the wineries seem to charge $10 for 6 tastes.  (Doffo also has a $20 option to taste some of their library wines.)  However, there is no problem sharing a taste with somebody.  We did it at two of the three wineries.  Also, the 6-taste limit is almost always exceeded.  At Doffo, the lady gave us several extra tastes.  At Mount Palomar, Peggy asked to taste a seventh wine, and Heather happily poured it.  At Hart, Joe asked me if I wanted to try something else, but by that time, I was pretty much wined out.

To quickly recapitulate, Eric, I really enjoyed my day, yesterday.  For different reasons I enjoyed the visit to each of the three wineries, and I found wines at each of the three wineries that I liked--again, not great wines, but wines that I look forward to enjoying someday with a meal.  I think the wineries I visited represent a cross-section of the Temecula Valley population.  Go and do your own exploration.  If you want to look at ones that I visited, great.  If you want to check out others, great.  Please, though, come back here after your trip and let us know how it went.

Each of these three had things that made them attractive.  Each had things I did not care for.  (I'm going to get one thing off my chest right now.  Two of them had tip jars on the counter in the tasting room.  I'd never seen that before.  As much as I liked the tasting room folks in each of the rooms, I chose not to tip.  I figured that between the tasting fee and the winery prices I was paying for the bottles that I bought, I was providing sufficient support.) 

Doffo Winery

I had never heard of Doffo Winery until I read your original post.  I looked at their website and was very intrigued.  I think I want to go to one of their parties.  Did you look at the pictures in their photo gallery?

All the Temecula wineries are on or just off Rancho California Rd. which intersects I-15 at the southern end of the town of Temecula.  Doffo is one of the farthest wineries from the freeway.  When we arrived, about 11:45, the parking lot was empty.  I suspect that may people spend a day of winetasting in Temecula start with the wineries closest to the freeway and work their way east until they decide they are finished.  The upshot is that Peggy and I received very personalized attention from the tasting room lady--very cool. 

The tasting fee is $10 and they were pouring 6 wines:

  • Two wines--a Sauvignon Blanc and a Chardonnay
  • Two reds--a Syrah and a Zinfandel
  • One Sparkling white wine
  • One Muscat dessert wine

Peggy and I shared a taste, so we spent $10.

The first wine was a 2010 Sauvignon Blanc.  The tasting room lady said that since this wine had been in the bottle so long, it had changed to highlight the fruit content.  I don't know if that was the reason, but it was like no other SB that I've ever had, and I have had more than a few.  This wine had all kinds of pear and tropical fruit hints.  It was something like a Chenin Blanc.  No sugar, but definitely fruity.  We were baffled and she seemed to understand our confusion.  She told us that the 2011 SB had just been bottled and it was more like a "standard" example.  She opened up a bottle of  the 2011, and immediately I smelled and tasted the traits that I normally associate with Sauvignon Blanc--grassy, acidic (citrus) refreshing.

Next we had a Semillon and that one was very very refreshing--light, only slightly tart, a good summer wine.

The 2010 Zinfandel was back to the weird stuff.  The tasting room lady warned us that owner/winemaker Marcelo Doffo creates a "fruit bomb" with his Zinfadel.  Well, OK, I'm used to hearing a lot of people gripe that all California wines are "fruit bombs."  Interesting, though, that the winery touts theirs as one.  Well, believe it or not, this is the "Mother of All Fruit Bombs."  I started giggling when I tasted it.  I am a Zinfandel bigot, and I have never tasted anything like this before.  I ended up buying a bottle, because I know that some day I am going to shock the heck out of someone with this thing.

The 2010 Syrah was the return to normalcy.  A very good wine, full-bodied, blackberry flavors, nice tannin that I love to give support to aging potential.  This was my favorite wine at Doffo.

Peggy really liked the Paulina Sparkling Wine--which is made for Doffo by Woodbridge Champage Cellars in Lodi.  It was OK.  There is no indication of sweetness on the label (e.g., Brut, Extra Dry or anything like that) but there is slightly noticeable sugar in it.  I would say that if you are familiar with California sparklers that are labeled "Brut," you would have an idea of the sweetness of this.

Peggy also really liked the Late Harvest Muscat.  It's not as rich as a lot of dessert wines, and, in my opinion, it could use a tad more acid, but it was OK

One of the other reasons I wanted to go to Doffo was because I noticed that they sell their own Chimichurri sauce.  I thought this was hilarious. Making Chimichurri is not very hard, but later in June we are meeting up with a friend who is just gonzo about Peggy's version of it.  I am going to gift Keith with a jar of genuine, made by Argentinian immigrant, California winery owners.

Mount Palomar Winery

While Doffo Winery is a very attractive nice family owned winery, Mount Palomar is the other end of the business--a corporate owned winery theme park.  Compared to Doffo the parking lot is huge.  You have to wander around a bit to find the tasting room

The tasting roo

 

 

 

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Reply by Eric Tinch, May 31, 2012.

Thanks Mark.  Your notes provide a good basis for me to make a few decisions.  They probably portray the area well and your point about them trying to find the right grapes for the climate makes sense.  When I was browsing the sites, I noticed that there wasn't really a common theme for the area.

We may still go to Doffo,as the motorcycle collection has peaked the interest of my father-in-law.  But I will try to choose a few other places to expand on your list.

Also, your advice on the coupons is spot on.  When browsing the sites, most of the wineries offer 2-1 coupons on weekdays.

 

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Reply by dmcker, May 31, 2012.

"The first wine was a 2010 Sauvignon Blanc.  The tasting room lady said that since this wine had been in the bottle so long, it had changed to highlight the fruit content."

Mark, thanks very much. Great reportage, and you've probably doubled in one fell swoop the public community knowledge here on Snooth about Temecula, whether about the wines or the winetourist tasting experience!  ;-)

Bizarre that the Doffo SB changed so radically in only one year, while still so very young. Wonder what was going on with the winemaking that year. Look, we're not talking Beaujolais Nouveau juice here, there's no way an SB should change so radically one year after release unless there were fruit issues or winemaking issues, or both, that year.

Does sound like syrah is doing well there (though I'm always happy when more people produce charbono--during the early '80s I used to buy cases of the Inglenook vintages from the late '50s thru the '70s; still nostalgic for them, for some reason). Maybe that is one of the main grapes they should focus on there if they're not doing so already. Though it's interesting that you say the alcohol levels are lower, since it does get so damnably hot there. What kind of percentages are we talking about?

Please do post again the next time you make it down there.

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Reply by JonDerry, Jun 1, 2012.

Yes, thanks a mil for doing god's work for the board, and bearing Temecula!

Based on your report, Hart seems like the winery I'd make sure to check out. Interesting that you favored the Syrah accross the board, and that the Syrah at Hart was probably the wine of the trip for you. Definitely think it's a great idea that they don't grow Pinot Noir, but also interesting for a climate so hot that the wines aren't higher in alcohol.

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Reply by EMark, Jun 1, 2012.

Yes, the ABVs kind of surprised me, too.  To give insight to my definition of "Low ABV" contrary to many, I have no problem at all with wines that are over 14%.  So, to me anything less than 14% is low.  So, from bottles that I bought and sheets that I picked up at the wineries here are some samples:

  • Doffo 2010 Zinfandel -- 14.9% (Pretty much what I would expect from a hot region Zin)
  • Doffo 2010 Syrah -- 13.8%
  • Doffo 2011 Semillon -- 13.6%
  • Doffo 2010 SB -- 12.8%
  • Doffo 2009 LH Muscat -- 10.75%  As a matter of interest, Brix at harvest was 29.6 and RS is 13.00%.
  • Mout Palomar 2007 Syrah -- 13.7%
  • Mount Palomar 2007 Charbono -- 13.2%
  • Hart 2010 Rousanne -- 12.2%
  • Hart 2011 Sauvignon Blanc -- 13.6%
  • Hart 2011 Blanc d' Franc -- 12.6%
  • Hart 2009 Sangiovese -- 13.3%
  • Hart 2009 Barbera -- 13.2%
  • Hart 2010 Zinfandel -- 14.7%
  • Hart 2008 Driveway (Bordeaux Blend) -- 13.9%
  • Hart 2007 Merlot -- 13.9%
  • Hart 2007 Cabernet Franc -- 14.4%
  • Hart 2008 Syrah -- 14.7%
  • Hart 2009 Aleatico (Dessert Wine) -- 18%

Others may disagree with my standard that less than 14% is "low," but maybe it is helpful to see the above samples.

I chatted with Joe Hart about the typical Temecula ABVs, and he told a story of a Zin that he produced very early in his career that came to over 16% with still some sugar left.  All the little yeasties had died.  He told us that it was undrinkable.  I then told my story (which I have related here in the past) of the David Bruce Zin that I had in the 70s that had an ABV of over 17%.  He was a tad surprised that I thought it was a good wine.  I told him that we had it after a nice meal and paired it with sliced apples and cheese.  He agreed that with that pairing it would work.  Of course it is entirely possible that he was playing the gracious host and would have agreed with anything a potential customer might say.  I suppose we'll never know. ;-) 

Dm, it is entirely possible that the "it's been in the bottle for a year" story that the lady offered on the Doffo SB, is just something she uses to get past the questions that inevitably come up.  It just doesn't taste like any other Sauvignon Blanc that I've ever had.  I'm sure that many visitors are taken aback when their experience does not meet their expectation.  I bought it just because it was different.

And, yes, I also remember Inglenook Charbono.  Did Heitz also do Charbono in the 70s?  I distinctly remember that they did Grignolino.

.

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Reply by EMark, Jun 1, 2012.

Eric, would certainly endorse your visiting Doffo.  Lke I indicated in my post above, it was very cool getting 100% of the attention in the tasting room.  The motorcycle museum was not open when we were there on Wednesday.

A couple other things about Doffo:

Right across the alley from them is the Chapin Family Winery.  I did not visit them, but I will next time.

On June 23 Doffo is releasing a Reserve Syrah.  It is going to be bottled in a very elegant glass flask.  We saw the prototype.  I guarantee that when the wine is emptied out of those bottles, they will be displayed as decorative items in many homes.

We were given a very cool nylon tote to carry away the wines that we bought--I'm more used to paper bags or cardboard boxes.  In all honesty I don't know if they give these totes to everybody, or to just people that buy a certain amount or who join their wine club.  Yes, I joined their wine club.  I received a 20% discount on the wine that I bought and I am now on their mailing list.  As I said above I want to go to one of their parties, and this should get me an invitation.

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Reply by Eric Tinch, Jun 1, 2012.

I just checked out the gallery that you linked for Doffo and I see what you mean by the parties.  They look like reason enough for me to join as well.  Hunks of meat over an open flame will always make me salivate. 

Also, any idea what they are pouring out on the table?  My only thought was that it may be grits, but they would need to be pretty thick to hold up like that.

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Reply by EMark, Jun 1, 2012.

"Grits" in Italian is "Polenta."  You actually got it.  One of the pics shows an announcement for a Polenta Party in 2010.  Its the gallery under Wine Club Events that starts with the lady in the red shirt/blouse and it is image 13 of 52.

Good job, Eric.

 

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Reply by lingprof, Jun 2, 2012.

I haven't been to Temecula in a while, which is embarrassing because I'm so close geographically.  Or maybe, as some have suggested, it's embarrassing to the winery PR people!  Although I do feel like some few wines are starting to show up more in local shops.  Hope so.

A couple of non-wine comments.  South Coast (the most locally available) has a nice restaurant, esp for breakfast, with a gorgeous view of the valley, and hummingbirds coming and going.  The wines didn't do much for me, but it's a beautiful setting to walk around.

Longshadow Ranch, at least when I was there, did a lot of old-style farming techniques including something featuring horses dragging something.  (You can see I was paying attention.)  That was also a cool place to visit, with a couple of random dogs running around, the horses, etc.  And I actually remember really liking their port.

Enjoy, and give us a report when you get back!

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Reply by burbmama, Jul 5, 2012.

Being a resident of the area,I experience the wineries whenever I get the yen to drive there.The places I am recommending are for the most part,off Rancho California.We locals enjoy the wineries there,for sure,but it's similar to when I lived in Vegas-locals rarely went to the strip.And Rancho California Road is like a wine country strip.So tops on my list is DePortola Road right off Rancho California.Robert Renzoni makes a darn good red.Tempranillo,Zinfandel and Big Fred's Red.Meaty,full bodied,not overly oakey.The winery is a smaller one and laid back.Be sure to try the red sauce with the breadsticks when tasting.Good pasta sauce!

 I am not sure if you like the more homey atmosphere or the resort type wineries.

 Lots of people love Leonesse out on DePotola ,also.I personally have never enjoyed their wines,but the port and chocolate at the end of a tasting is good.The restaurant has a nice menu and a decent view.

 Thornton is on Rancho.Its big,expensive and rather impersonal.They have a beautiful Cab-Franc.

  Hart is small,friendly and makes some really good wines.I can't recall the names of the stars there.

  Wilson Creek is large,but so friendly.It's nice to bring a picnic lunch there and sit out on the grounds.They are famous for the Almond Champagne.It is waayy too sweet for me.If you like reds,they frequently have a nice Mouvedre.

 Longshadow is fun.I can't say that their wines have blown me away,but if you have family with you,it's a fun spot.They have Belgian Draft horses on the ranch.It's uber-relaxed.

 For glossy there's South Coast Winery,but honestly I have never known a person who loves their wines.

 The new buzz around here is Briar Rose Winery.Heard it's good.

 As someone previously mentioned in Old Town Temecula,there are some tasting rooms.I have to second "The Collective".A few boutique wineries to try all in one place.Looking for a really good place to eat in Old Town Temecula-try The Public House-excellent!!Casual and highly recommended.

 One more tip.If you find a wine you like,usually you can buy it cheaper at a CVS.Also driving out of Wine Country on Rancho California there is a Baron's Market.They carry many of the local wines.

Have fun and hope you all enjoy the area. 

 

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Reply by EMark, Aug 1, 2012.

So, Eric, did you go?  Expiring minds want to know.

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Reply by Eric Tinch, Aug 1, 2012.

I made the trip, but I am still recovering from jet lag a bit and returned to month end close at work :)  A cliff notes version for now would give a huge thumbs up to Doffo that set the bar too high for Weins to handle. After befriending the attractive daughter of the owner, we tasted about 15 different wines to include some orange liqueur that we weren't supposed to see.  

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Reply by EMark, Aug 1, 2012.

Sounds great.  We look forward to the FM version when you get your feet back under you.

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Reply by ChrisMo, Sep 17, 2012.

I'm just glad that I came across this thread as it already answered many of the questions I wanted to ask. We are planning a tour in Temecula to visit some of the wineries there. As from my research turned out so far, there are a lots of wineries and I have to narrow them down. Basically I want to do this by selecting which wines do we like and choose the wineries based on that. Maybe it's not the best idea to rule out other factors since it all adds up to the experience, but we intend to purchase some bottles and that will be influenced solely based on our tastes. I started my research by visiting some of the wineries websites, but I soon realized what a tedious task is and decided to ask for help here. Eric I hope you don't mind asking for help in your thread.

I'm all over for good red wines, especially looking for some Cabernet Sauvignon blends. Which wineries do you suggest for that? I found some recommendations for Wiens winery for good reds. Any other recommendations for good reds? Emark's suggestion of the Sangiovese from Mount Palomar also made it to my list. My girlfriend is not as picky as I am. Any sweet whites would satisfy her taste. Any suggestions in that direction?

Every opinion and recommendation is well received.

By the way, the trip is planned at the end of month.

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Reply by EMark, Sep 17, 2012.

Chris, I am pleased to see this thread brought back to life.  Here are some of my ideas.

For your GF who likes sweet wines, Doffo (and, probably, others) will fit the bill.  When I drank their Sauvignon Blanc at home, it definitely had a sweet aspect--may be fruit, may be sugar.  The Muscat, though, will definitely appeal to her sweet tooth.  Also, the sparkling wine has some sugar.

I'm sorry to say that the current Castelleto Sangiovese from Mt. Palomar does not match the level of the '97 that I had a few years ago,  However, Sangiovese is a grape that is popular in Temecula Valley.  Try samples from other wineries and see what you like.  Also, try Syrahs from different wineries.  I liked the Syrahs that I tasted at all three wineries that I visited last spring. Also, for what it's worth, a couple days ago I opened a Barbera that I bought at Hart and liked it very much.

Now, as a southern Californian, I want very much to support and promote the local wine regions, but in my opinion, you do not want to look for Temecula Valley Cabernet Sauvignons.  Napa Valley has a lock on that.  When you go to Temecula, try Syrahs, and Zinfandels, and Sangioveses, and, if somebody is trying something a tad more unusual, try that.  I really do not think there is any upside in Temecula trying to out-Napa Napa in CS.

If you make your visit mid-week, by all means go to Hart if for no other reason than to have the opportunity to chat with Joe Hart.  He is a great guy who, I believe, spends a lot of time in the tasting room Monday through Friday.  Also, Hart wines are as good as you will find in Temecula.

One last request.  Please, please come back to us after your visit and give us a report.  We really want to hear about your experience and your findings.

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