Wine Talk

Snooth User: EMark

Temecula WInes/Trading Redwoods for Vineyards In L.A. Times

Posted by EMark, Aug 26, 2011.

Thursday’s issue of the Los Angeles Times had two interesting articles on the California wine industry.

In the “Food” section (once a week occurrence) there was an article on the Temecula wine region.  Temecula is about 40 miles inland and between Los Angeles and San Diego.  In the 70s various vineyards were planted.  The most notable of these was Callaway started by the founder of the golf equipment company.  In the 90s, however, the area was devastated by the invasion of a grasshopper-like critter called the glassy winged sharpshooter.  This killed a lot of wineries and vineyards.  However, the area is making a comeback.  It is a relatively easy drive from either Los Angeles or San Diego, and, so, day trips for lunch and wine tasting are easily doable.  Also, according to the article, cruise ships visiting San Diego will have excursions to the Temecula wine country.

The major point of the article, though, was the “battle” between makers of “pop” wines and makers of “serious” wines.  Apparently, it is quite popular to visit one winery named Wilson and taste an almond sparkling wine concoction that, the way I read the article, is sourced from Lodi (in California’s Central Valley). 

The thought of drinking almond-flavored wine does not particularly appeal to me (that’s what Amaretto is for).  However, I do not begrudge it of anybody if that is what snaps your carrot.  I endorse any trend that increases the popularity of wine.

On the other side of the “battle” are “serious” Temecula wine makers such as Joe Hart.  I have to say that while Hart wines are not going to challenge as world beaters, they are very respectable and I have enjoyed every one that I have tried.

The other article was more “political” in nature.  It appeared on Page 1.  Apparently, there is an attempt by two different companies to convert 2,000 acres of redwood forest in northern Sonoma County (near the community of Annapolis) into pinot noir vineyards.  Not surprisingly, this is causing some polarization among locals.  The two companies referenced in the article are Cordoniu (of Spain) owner of Napa Valley winery Artesa and a Napa-based company called Premier Pacific Vineyards.  It sounds like this is is a real estate company.  The article references a development of "high end estates" that Premier Pacific is also planning in this Northern Somoma County area.

I am somewhat familiar with the area.  My wife and I have rented beach houses in the nearby town of Gualala.  It is a spectacularly beautiful area.  So, right now, I am on the fence about this project.  I was wondering, though, if anybody from the area could add to my insight on this situation.

Replies

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Reply by ScottLauraH, Aug 26, 2011.

Two years ago I went wine tasting in Temecula with my father's side of the family.  We rented a limo and rode together and had a marvelous time.  The wines we tasted were quite nice.  At most of the vineyards, the staff was very welcoming and warm and took their time with us.  Our favorite was Ponte Family Estate, both for the wine and the service. 

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Reply by dmcker, Aug 27, 2011.

Good pointer towards two interesting subjects, emark. There's been very little mention of Temecula on Snooth, though I've posted a couple of times on it. More critical, in my view, is the story about the first clearing of large tracts of redwoods for vineyard conversion that even state bureaucrats can remember.

Here's the LA Times article, here's an earlier Huffington Post article on the subject, and here's an aggregation of related articles from gualalariver.org, just one of several local organizations posting on the Mendonoma area controversy. Annapolis is part of the long stretch along the coast that's referred to as 'The True' Sonoma Coast (though we're getting up onto the border with Mendocino when we're talking Gualala, usually pronounced 'Wa-la-la') wine area. Lots of good burgundian and other wines coming from there, about which I've posted, as have outthere and others, at length in the past. Currently, though, stories are rife that not all the production from the area is being sold, certainly at prices the growers and wineries would like.

I've stayed in Gualala and environs several times and like that whole stretch of coast (and inland) quite a bit. Painful to picture an ongoing serious of redwood cuttings just to have another attempt, or three, at grapes to source a winery that may or may not get it--but that has been the nature of the California economy since there was one. Particularly painful because this would apparently be the largest woodland-to-vineyard conversion in the state's history. One wonders what kind of PR advice Cordoniu has been getting, and I'm sure locals wonder why they couldn't do this elsewhere, where it wouldn't take hundreds of years for pre-existing ecosystems to return.

Would be interested to hear a more local perspective from outthere, andrew or anyone else....

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Reply by JonDerry, Aug 27, 2011.

It takes something big to get lazy californians interested in something.  Years ago Napa had the judgement of paris, then more recently, santa barbara had sideways.  Temecula has entered the bloodstream, but the marketing of it has so far failed to excite, probably due to not much fault of its own.


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