Every year, Temecula Valley Winegrowers hosts an annual barrel tasting wine event, making it the perfect opportunity to sip and savor wines from the local participating wineries. This year, 36 wineries participated in this self guided tour on January 28th & 29th. Each ticket holder have the opportunity to taste up to 18 wineries per day and usually includes a white, a red, and a barrel wine tasting. In addition, each wineries have a small plate to complement one of your tastings. I was fortunate enough to be a wine-goer in 2016, 2015, and 2014. (I won tickets to the 2014 event and have been hooked ever since.)
Being this my 4th year attending, my wine loving side really wanted the darker, stronger cabs as my choices. Because really, there is no way to be able to try all 18 wineries in a day. The closest I came to was 12 and quantity versus quality really took some of the fun out of the trip last year. The first 2 years attending as a newbie, I pretty much focused on the food because quite honestly, food was a lot easier to understand. Thus this year, my adventurous side kicked in. All of the wineries I’ve visited during the 2017 barrel event were a little “Off the Beaten Path”. I finally got to try Briar Rose (Not on the main road), Chapin Vineyards (The one furthest away from the map), the new Peltzer winery, and pretty much almost everything East of Anza Rd. (Ya know, that round-a-bout).
Unfortunately, I had some great images for this article with some food pairing pictures ready to go, but as luck would have it my SD card had malfunctioned. Thus, you’ll just have to journey with me on this trip verbally, as I’ll be as descriptive as possible. So grab a glass of your favorite vino and read on. I’ll even include some notable tips on the wineries from my visit.
Briar Rose Winery-This boutique winery sits on the same road as many local residence on Calle Cabrillo and not on the main road. This fairy tale-esq building was known the be built by a former Disney animator, so I was told. (You can read the whole fairy tale here). Wine selecton included 2010 Barbera and 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Barrel.
Most notable: Charming cottage feel, without the annoying enchanting princess.
Chapin Vineyards-This is one of the two wineries on the list that required advanced reservations (For Saturday) for the tasting. A family owned and operated winery and known for their reds, try the $15 for 5 tastings. Their Montepulciano was slightly better than their Cabernet Sauvignon in my opinion.
Most notable: Look for that ’47 Ford sitting smack dab in the front to greet you!
Lorenzi Winery-The other winery on the list (For Sunday) that required advanced reservations. Last year, Lorenzi was an unexpected pleasant surprise as I stumbled here without a reservation. This year, I got to meet Brenda Lorenzi as she poured a barrel blend of 2015 wine that is comparable to their 2011 Alpha Red. Excellent wines with most of their collection being reds.
Most notable: Their wine club is 2 bottle every other month and can be tailored to your taste and shipping preferences.
Vindemia Winery-This place is all about the view, and has a fun crew who likes CowBells. It is situated a top of a small hill and can be really windy. This place had a 2016 barrel Zinfandel which was a little young for me, however it had one of the best food on site from Chef David Beale with his Korean BBQ beef and skewered grilled swordfish.
Most notable: Don’t wear a hat, don’t leave napkins unattended, and must have more cowbells.
Ponte Winery: Not really off the beaten path but Sothcoast, Wiens, and Ponte remains one of the top favorites on my Temecula must visit list. The 2015 Sangiovese Barrel was so delightful, we wanted to buy a “Future” wine. For those of you not aware of Future’s, you basically pay now for the wine you tasted and the winery will typically take up to a year to ship that wine to you at a fraction of the cost. Unfortunately, that was not available so we ended up buying a bottle of the 2012 version. The white was a 2015 Chardonnay and paired beautifully with the shrimp scampi bruschetta while the red was paired with a short-rib bucatini.
Most notable: Their dungeon downstairs has no internet service and is cool all year long.
South Coast Winery: A winery and resort, this place takes top honors in having one of the most beautiful grounds. The tasting consisted of a Ruby Cuvee bubbly and a 2014 Boulder Red Blend. Food pairing came with a “lamb satay” which look and tasted like lamb jerky. Quite unusual, but quite good for lamb lovers.
Most notable: Always easy to get lost here, it’s like the Disneyland of Temecula.
Monte De Oro Winery: In the barrel cellar, Monte De Oro offered 4 wines including a Bolle sparkling, 2013 Zinfandel, 2013 Syrah, and a Barrel Syrah. Paring included mini slider and chips. The barrel free area was small, but because of the intimate size, we were able to meet new friends here. Also, we bought their Futures last year with the release of Tempranillos and totally loved it though it took almost a year for us to get it. Do note if you are downstairs, look up and see the clear floor from the tasting area. (Don’t wear dresses to come here).
Most notable: This winery is not situated on Monte De Oro Road.
Peltzer Winery: One of the newest Temecula Wineries that opened last October along with the farm, this place was very inviting. (I call this place country chic) Outside the large barn called The Crush, you’ll find kids playing in the sand. While inside, you’ll find a blend of industrial and modern photo-ops as one of the most Instagram-able spaces in Temecula wine country. You’ll see lots of signage and soft lighted areas. From the tour guide, Peltzer has been growing wines with the farm and this year they planted varietals like Barbera, Sangiovese, and Petit Syrah. For pairing, we received 2 tickets and chose between 2015 Sangiovese, 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, and a 2015 Zinfadel. We paired it with a choice of either the Thai pumpkin soup or a lentil pumpkin soup with a tomato base. All this topped with bread from a local baker, Harvest Bread Company.
Most notable: Look for a pumpkin balloon outside as pumpkin seems to be the main theme of this place.
Fazeli Cellars: At the event, Fazeli offered a 2012 Mehregan (98% Grenache, 2% Shiraz), 2014 Ruby Rose (100% Shiraz Rose) and a 2015 Barrel Shiraz (Cover of this picture that has notes of berries and peppers). Do look at the tasting area, it’s one of the longest counters I’ve seen.
Most notable: If you want a outdoor picture with a castle-like feel and dual spiral stairs, this place should do.
Oak Mountain: Did you know this place has an avocado and vinegar club and is also Dog friendly? Neither did I until we came here. Being here for the first time, we got to try a 2013 Zinfandel, 2013 Tempranillo, 2015 Sauvignon Blanc as Oak Mountain produces mostly the Bordeaux style and Rhone Style grapes at their production facility. Paired with duo of tamales and a mini churro over chocolate granache.
Most notable: The wine cave (called The Cave), holds barrel in the 60 degree range.
Cougar Vineyards: Parking can be a slightly painful here if you’ve never been here. Thus, the winery has a parking attendant that will guide you on where you should park. With that said, this place has always been popular with the ladies (I’m assuming the name has something to do with it). Once inside, there are ample tables to eat and drink inside the tasting room or outside by the deli. We tried the 2014 Barbera, the 2015 Estate Pinot Grigio, 2014 Montepulciano and a extra tasting at the bar.
Most notable: Their Spicy Italian meatball is outstanding and can be bought along with other food items from their deli.
Doffo Winery: If you’ve never been here, you’ll enjoy live music and vendors with specialty products located near the entrance of the tasting room. The wines are Moto themed. Damian Doffo, the son of owner Marcelo Doffo, poured us some of their new MotoDoffo wine set.
Most notable: For their collection of motorcycles along the wall and chatter about Italian racing.
Obviously, I had left out a few wineries I either didn’t visit or didn’t quite make it in my notes. But if history is any indication of the future, I will be back for my 5th year and will highlight the wineries I missed mentioning.
The weather played an integral part in picture perfect wine tasting weather with the snow capped mountains in the background and mild mid 70s degree weather for the Barrel Tasting weekend. This event was enjoyable, especially away from the usual weekday hustle and bustle. If you get a chance to go next year, make sure you bring your appetite for wine and food. If you don’t have the time or just want to go during the weekdays, Temecula Valley Winegrowers does offer a passport for $45 and includes 5 flights of wines from 5 different wineries.
Temecula Valley Winegrowers Barrel Tasting
January 28 & 29th, 2017
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