Temecula Valley: Using the land towards wine’s favor & flavor


The weekend of January 30 & 31st 2016,  My guest and I were invited for the Temecula Valley Annual Barrel Age wine event.  The sold out two day event showcased wines from 32 wineries within Temecula Valley (16 wineries per day). Ticket holders were able to do a self guided tour and enjoy barrel and tank samples, new releases, and current vintages along with food pairings. Much like the now previous World of Wines event from my previous visit (Not available this year), this event attracted many wine lovers from local enthusiasts to out of state wine lovers.

Saturday ticket included the following participants: Baily Vinyards & Winery, Briar Rose Winery, Chapin Family Vinyards, Cougar Vinyards & Winery, Footpath Winery, Hart Winery, Longshadow Ranch Winery, Lorenzi Winery, Lumiere Winery, Maurice Car’rie Winery, Miramonte Winery, Mount Palomar Winery, Thorton Winery, Vindemia Vinyard and Estate Winery, Wiens Family Cellers, Wilson Creek Winery. 

Sunday ticket included the following participants: Bel Vino Winery, Callaway Vinyard & Winery, Carter Estate Winery, Danza Del Sol Winery, Doffo Vinyard & Winery, Europa Village, Faukner Winery, Frangipani Estate Winery, Leoness Cellers, Lorimar Cellers & Winery, Monte Del Oro Winery, Oak Mountain Winery, Palumbo Winery, Ponte Family Estate Winery, Robert Renzoni Winery, South Coast Winery Resort & Spa.

Images property of Peter Hsieh

Ray & Beth from Illinois are fans of Hart Winery

This year, for the main focus of this article, I took notice of Temecula’s unique landscape.  It is the land that give us the wine and it is how winegrowers adapt to the land and weather conditions to achieve those unique flavors. Often at time, there’s the misconception of Temecula having “not so smooth” wines due to the fluctuation of weather.  True to this fact, the successful veteran winegrowers have planted varietals to adapt to the weather. Thus, I’ve tasted some amazing wines by the winegrowers who fostered and embraced these conditions along with understanding the blending process of some amazing wines. The result? Some spectacular wines you would never guess it was grown from Temecula.

So come along for the ride with me on this article as I interviewed a chef, a proprietor, an expert, and listed some of my favorite wines and food samples from the Temecula Valley Barrel Age Wine Event.   Mostly, this article will show how Temecula’s winegrowers and Chefs have successfully adapted to the land and how they grow and blend accordingly to what is available.

Images property of Peter Hsieh

Rosemary next to vines, attracting bees to pollinate

Along with me on my trip to Temecula this year was Duc Duong, a fellow wine enthusiast and a former employee of Total Wine & More’s wine program. Often at times, I considered Duc as my walking wine encyclopedia. He has in depth knowledge that I always learn from. For example, along our walk passing by the grapevines, we noticed grassy areas in between the vines. Duc explained. “A lot of wineries will purposely grow grass between the grapevines. The purpose is of this trick is to suck up the surface water. By doing so, it will force the grapevines to grow longer roots.  So more grass, more roots. Therefore, the deeper they are in the ground, the more of the terroir they will pick up and that’s the purpose of the grass.  With any type of the grass, the soil shouldn’t be too wet because you want your grapevines struggle a bit.  Because the more vines struggle, the deeper the flavor is and pick up more by the terroir.  A lot of wine vintners will grow grass on the top soil.”

As we trekked to the next winery, I noticed rose vines and rosemary often planted next to the vines.  Duc explained the roses are often “sacrificial lambs to the vines because the bugs are often attracted to the smell of the roses. As for the abundance of rosemary and proximity of the vine next to it, it place for the reason bees help pollinate the rosemary flower as well as the vines close by.” So the next time you see rosemary and roses, you too can now help educate those who often wonder what they’re for.

Images property of Peter Hsieh

Chef Volker Lutz from Wiens explaining earthy notes from Domestique and pairs with Tri-Tip over farfalle and blue cheese.

After we picked up our tickets, we ventured into one of my favorite wineries, Wiens Family Cellers. Last year they did an AMAZING street taco made with a skirt steak. This year Wiens offered a tri-tip over a Domestique infused farfalle with stilton cheese to pair with their 2014 Domestique. Chef Volker Lutz explained their Rhone style blend Domestique is a dark fruit, spicy, full body wine.  Wien’s vine are grown in an area shaped like a bowl with cooler climate and recognized the similarity of growing their GSM blend typically found in France. If you are not a Cabernet drinker due to the tannins, this wine would be a great choice.

If you like to learn more about GSMs, Wikipedia can explain better than I can:  GSM is a name commonly used for a red wine consisting of a blend of Grenache, Shiraz (Syrah), and Mourvèdre.[19] This blend originated from those used in some Southern Rhône wines, including Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Grenache is the lightest of the three grapes, producing a pale red juice with soft berry scents and a bit of spiciness. As a blending component, it contributes alcohol, warmth and fruitiness without added tannins. Shiraz can contribute full-bodied, fleshy flavours of black fruits and pepper. It adds color, backbone and tannins and provides the sense of balance such blends require. Mourvèdre contributes elegance, structure and acidity to the blend, producing flavours of sweet plums, roasted game and hints of tobacco.

Images property of Peter Hsieh

Barrel tasting Cab Franc at Wilson Creek

We ventured onto a few more wineries and tasted more food. Without going into too much detail, we were able to attend a total of ten different wineries on the first day and also ten wineries on the second day. If you bought the 2 day ticket at $128 and visited 20 different wineries with tastings, for example, cost would be less than $7 per winery visit.  Keep in mind each winery has on average 2-3 wines and a food pairing A total bargain especially for those of you who have never had the opportunity to try many of the wineries in Temecula.

Images property of Peter Hsieh

Wilson Creek VS Cab with Tomato Crusted Mac N Cheese with Bacon

We took notice of a lot of people who attended this event as we often saw the same people at the following stop.  I chatted with a few ladies who booked a limo as a group to fully enjoy this event and told me they planned to attend all 16 wineries for the day.  I too would recommend a driver or a tour group such as the Grapeline Wine Tours  or any of the Temecula Valley Transport Partners to fully enjoy this event.

Even though Sunday’s event was a little damp due to the rain, it didn’t hamper the winegoers from attending the event.  Some favorites from Saturday included Wilson Creek’s Bacon Mac N Cheese and Cougar’s famous Italian Sausage Meatballs. From Sunday, our favorites included Ponte’s 2014 Viognier,  Leoness Celler’s Coq Au Vin, SouthCoast Winery’s Portuguese brisket with spicy slaw on fried dumpling, Bel Vino’s 2012 Tempranillo (We bought 2) Monte De Oro’s Future offering of their 2013 Syrah and 2013 Tempranillo (We bought 5!)

Images property of Peter Hsieh

Don Lorenzi explains his craft and wines

Finally to conclude, I would like to share one of my best wine experience for the weekend.  We ventured into Lorenzi accidentally and was unaware that it was one of the two wineries that needed a reservation. We were lucky there was a no show during the time we arrived thanks to the lady by the entrance.  At the tasting, there was a Bordeaux blend with Cab Sauvignon, Cab Franc, and Merlot that was just blended on Jan 15, 2016. The big fruit taste of this Bordeaux was fruity on the nose and just balanced on the tongue. Lucky for me, I got to meet the man behind the wine.

Don Lorenzi explained he is “Italian by heritage but his wine influence is French. So all of what they have planted here is mostly Cab, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. Lorenzi also has the Rhone varietals: Syrah, Granache, Petit syrah, and Italian superhero Zinfidel. And also planted here are clones of the 100 year old vines in Cucamonga from Lopez Ranch. In addition, Chardonnay is also offered. At Lorenzi, their influence is pretty much Classic French, Boudeaux blends, rhone blends and Varietals.”

Images property of Peter Hsieh

Lorenzi Bordeaux Blend, Lots of Flavor!

Duc and I both agreed on Lorenzi and their take on wines.  Duc mentioned, “Their French inspired wines is a good thing given the varietals they grow here. Their wines is more about balance as opposed to be on one end of the spectrum.” In term of food pairing and as a standalone wine, it was definitely one of our favorites.

Unfortunately for us, we were not able to attend all 32 wineries but we were enjoying quality over quantity at this event.  If you have never been to Temecula for wine tasting, I do recommend giving this event a try because cost wise it’s cheaper and food pairings were a plus. If you are a veteran like me, I also recommend coming here to try out new wineries that can be newly added to your list of favorites.  If you missed the barrel age wine event and would like to attend the up and coming events hosted by Temecula Wines, please visit their event page.   Always a great time, and a learning experience in the wine country that’s less than 90 minutes from Los Angeles.




Temecula Valley Annual Barrel Tasting

January 30 & 31st, 2016




Craft beer lover, BBQ enthusiast, Wine taster, Tequila aficionado, All 'Kine Hawaiian and occasional marathoner to burn all this off.

Be first to comment