Fine Living Enthusiast guests head to off-the-beaten-path wineries in Temecula
The Temecula Wine Tasting trip on Nov 21st was very successful. Around 26 of us headed up for a day of wine tasting, education, music, food and fun. Temecula, located about an hour north of San Diego, has some up and coming wineries that should be on the winery visit list of any lover of wine. The majority of wine tasting visitors stop at the higher-production wineries dotted along Rancho California Road. However, this trip focused on lesser-known, smaller-production wineries.
Our first stop was at Wiens Family Cellars. They are famous for the Big Reds although they have plenty of whites on the tasting menu including a sparkling wine Amour De L’Orange. I typically don’t care for “flavored” wines but this one was surprisingly good. One fave was the Merrytage, Wiens’ playful name for this particular blend, made from the Italian grape Barbera, blended with some Cabernet Franc and Zinfandel. It was delicious.
In order to use the name “Meritage” on your label, you must join the Meritage Association and meet their strict guidelines. Wiens has been a member since 2007 and produces a Meritage also. This wine is a blend of the “noble” Bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, using one-third of each. Among the group of tasters, the consensus for the top red was this Meritage with a soft caramel and cocoa flavor profile.
My friend Craig told me I had to try the Ruby Port. Although the grapes used in this blend Syrah, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah are atypical, the results were still quite lovely. In Portugal, the home of Port, vintners use Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) grape varietals.
After rounding up our enthusiastic troops, we headed over to Oak Mountain Winery for another winery off-the-beaten path. We had planned on sipping wine in a private area that overlooked the vineyard but due to Mother Nature we had to change of plans. Instead, co-owner Valerie Andrews set us up beside a roaring fire on an adjacent outdoor covered patio. Jazz music was provided by Norm Douglas, with his sweet sounding tenor sax and mixer. Norm entertained us with a nice mix of Smooth Jazz cuts along with jazz standards and an original or two. It was a perfect way to spend a drizzly afternoon – sipping wine, eating gourmet pizza and sampling deli meats, cheeses and other snacks. Guests made several wine purchases that will surely bring back good memories when enjoyed back home with friends.
After twelve tastings at the previous wineries, about a dozen die-hard wine drinkers made the quick trek over to nearby Danza del Sol Winery. The timing was perfect as the “sol” started to shine just as we entered the winery grounds. They too have a nice selection of white and red wines as well as a Blanc de Blanc sparkling for under $30, which can be enjoyed over the next few weeks and months as we celebrate New Year’s and then Valentine’s Day.
We will be hosting another Temecula Valley wine tasting trip in Spring of 2011 so check back on the Destinations section of our site for the date and wineries. In the meantime, check out the photos from this past event. A good time was had by all. But then, with good wine involved how could we go wrong?