Did you know that Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association is having their 50th year celebration? Temecula Valley AVA, which is located in southern California just outside of San Diego, initially planted it’s first wine grapes in 1820 by Spanish Missionaries. However, the first commercial wine made from Temecula Valley grapes was in 1971 by Brookside Winery. This followed the opening of the first commercial winery, Callaway Vineyard and Winery in 1974, producing the first wine made in the Temecula Valley from Temecula Valley grapes. Today, we celebrate its 50th year with resorts, restaurants and over 40 wineries and counting.
And just a couple words about Temecula.
Throughout the years, the meaning of Temecula has been interpreted as, “a place for the sun”, or as it’s more recently and commonly known, “Where the sun breaks through the mist”. A valley covered with hilltop plateaus with views of the valley and panoramic backdrops of mountain ridges. Many say that it’s a picturesque town that resembles Tuscany in Italy. When Temecula Valley was first formed, it was believed that the area was ideal for grape growing because the coastal air would create a cool morning mist that peaked over the rolling hills of the vineyards. It was believed that this “morning mist” would simmer through the vines and set just enough mist to last on the soil for the hot summer days. With beautiful rolling hills and high mountain hilltops, Ely Callaway knew this area was perfect for his vineyard. With its’ first vines planted in 1968, Callaway Winery was the first to put Temecula as a serious wine producing region on the map. This year, Mr. Callaway will be honored at the Grape Day Conference on April 19th and his award will be accepted by his grandson. Click here to read my previous article on Callaway winery.
Throughout the year, Temecula will be celebrating its 50th anniversary with various celebrations and events. You can click HERE to read more on this year’s events. One of those events is one that I always enjoy attending was the Annual Temecula Valley Barrel Tasting that is held every January. This event consisted of 36 wineries in the Temecula Valley Region, featuring one barrel sample, along with other wine tastings. In addition, a food paring was also included at every winery.
Each day they had 18 wineries participating, giving you the option to choose which wineries you wanted to visit. I love this event because its your chance to meet the owners and winemakers. But best of all, you get food and barrel samples. This year, I decided I was going to go to the wineries I’ve never visited or had not been in a long time.
On Saturday, we got to visit Thorton Winery, Vindemia Estate, Lumiere Winery, Leoness Cellars, and Chapin Family Vineyards.
On Sunday we visited, Fazeli Cellars, Robert Renzoni, Masia De La Vinya, Cougar vineyards, Lorenzi Vineyards and Hart Winery. Sunday Day 2 will be posted soon!
Saturday Day One
This year, Thornton Winery was the Passport pick up and starting point for the Barrel Tasting. Thorton Winery is beautifully located at the entrance of Temecula Wine Country and known as the Sparkling house of the valley. Thornton provided us with a welcome sparkling brut that was followed by the 2016 Roussane. Both of these wines were paired with an Heirloom tomato bruschetta with a creamy brie spread. The next wine was 2014 Estate Syrah and for the Barrel sample, 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon. Both of these wines were paired with a Brulled Pear with Prosciutto Cranberry Reduction. Open daily 10am-8pm.
This was my first time visiting Lumiere Winery, a small family owned boutique winery producing hand crafted Bordeoux style wines. Located on a beautiful hilltop overlooking the valley and vineyards, Lumiere is a small, cute and rustic winery offering delicious food and small production wines. The large pine trees located next to the winery, makes you feel like being on the mountains. We were welcomed by the owners and were immediately poured their 2011 DayBreak Merlot that was paired with a French Dip sandwich with au jus. (P.S, this French dip was the favorite food of all weekend!) The second wine was followed by another new release, 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon. Lumiere is a darling winery where the entire family is involved in the vineyard and winemaking process. Open daily 11am-6pm.
Vindemia Winery is another winery I have never visited, but had the pleasure of having their wines at prior events. I was really looking forward to visiting this winery, as I had previously met the owner and winemaker, David Bradley and loved his wines. Vindemia is another small family owned boutique winery. Vindemia winery is located on a hilltop overlooking their long vineyards, providing a beautiful outdoor patio tasting room. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by staff and we were guided to where the first wine was being poured. We first were poured the 2016 Zinfandel that was paired with their Italian Wedding Soup, made of beef and pork meatballs. It was followed by the 2016 Barbera that was being poured out of the barrel by David, the winemaker. Nestled away further up the hill, is the wine club tasting room that is also outdoors, but a little more special. This tasting room is nestled into a corner right below their Tuscany looking home, giving you the feeling that you’re in Italy wine tasting in a little village. I’m not going to lie, but we stayed here just a little longer than any other place. It was so peaceful, pretty and the wines were on point. Open daily 11am-5pm.
Leoness Cellars is a place I’ve been too before, but recently they have gone through beautiful renovations and I haven’t had the chance to see them. Leoness Cellars, meaning the Village of dreams”, is a warm and enchanting winery that is located on rolling hills of the Deportola Trail of Temecula Wine Country. Unfortunately we arrived at Leoness for lunch at peak hours, so we put our name in and went to the Barrel tasting event to wait. During the tasting event, we were greeted with 2015 Cellar Selection Syrah that was followed by the 2015 Cellar Selection Cabernet Sauvignon. This was paired with a Chili Colorado served over risotto rice. Lastly, the barrel sample was a 2016 Vineyard Selection Merlot “Los Caballos Vineyard”. After the Barrel tasting, we had lunch at their new restaurant on their outdoor patio next to the fountain and enjoyed couple of glasses of their Viognier. Open Sunday-Thursday 11am-5pm and Friday and Saturday 11am-6pm.
Lastly, Chapin Family Vineyards was a winery I’ve never visited or had their wines. Chapin Family Vineyards immediately made me feel like I was at someone’s home….which we were. However, the views that their outdoor patio provides is breath taking. The views of an empty wine country with nothing beyond fields, gave me the slight feeling I was somewhere else I’ve never been. The reasons for those views is because Chapin Family Vineyards is located at the end of Rancho California Road, the farthest winery in wine country. Most people don’t know about it, unless you’ve been to Doffo Winery since they’re located next to each other. We didn’t get a chance to visit Doffo this time because we were too tired. However, I live close by so I can come back and visit anytime. Open daily 11am-5pm.
Besides Temecula Wine month (September), this is another one of my favorite events. It’s a time where you can taste barrel samples and some unreleased wines. Most wineries will have the winemaker present pouring for you, which doesn’t get any better than that. In addition, this is the time when you get to meet some other family members that are behinds the scenes of the winery. It’s a great event filled with fun and running around, but I suggest you bring a designated Driver because there a lot of drinking happening. I know I did…Insert wink! A special thank you to Temecula Wine Growers for having me on this event and for sponsoring this post. Thank you for taking the time for reading this article and I hope that you’re able to attend one of these events in the future. Click HERE for a list of other event this year.
CLICK HERE to read DAY 2!!!!!
*******Sponsored by Temecula Wine Growers
Read other Temecula Valley Articles Below!
Temecula Wine Country
- Jan 20, 2016 Embrace the Chaos - Fazeli Cellars
- Mar 2, 2016 Callaway Winery breaks through the mist!
- Jul 11, 2016 Lorimar Winery - Wine, Music, and Art!
- Jul 25, 2016 A little piece of Napa at Mount Palomar Winery
- Aug 16, 2016 Falkner Winery - Part 1
- Sep 10, 2016 Sunday Funday at Falkner Winery - Part 2
- Feb 8, 2017 Lorenzi Estate
- Feb 24, 2017 International Languages of Love - A Five senses tasting experience at Europa Village
- Mar 31, 2017 Wisteria Lane in Temecula Wine Country
- Sep 25, 2017 Peltzer Pumpkin Farm & Winery a Must visit in Temecula Wine Country!
- Mar 18, 2018 Temecula Valley Barrel Tasting - Day One
- Mar 19, 2018 Temecula Valley Barrel Tasting Day Two
- Jun 9, 2018 The Best Temecula Rosé Wines That are Not Sweet