Romance of Temecula wines

The stars are aligned for a banner year in Temecula Wine Country this year. My in-box is full of exciting developments for most of the 35-plus wineries that are anticipating an overwhelming public response to their ambitious programs of improvement offering more tastings, tours, dining, lodging and event activity.In a recent interview with Jim Carter, owner of the renowned South Coast Winery Resort and Spa, TASTE OF WINE learned that Carter plans to build a new winery, Carter Estates. It will be part of a much bigger resort, winery, spa, and office and meeting space. The existing property will be offering new hotel space in March. “We have 50 new all-suite rooms in a three story structure with units from 538 to 850 square feet. Each suite will have a fireplace, soothing tub and lanai deck in the vineyards,” he said. “It will include a rooftop garden for receptions and banquets.”

South Coast produces 65,000 cases of wine annually and has now topped 1,800 medals with the 2013 wine competition results, one of the highest in the nation.

A short drive beyond Jim Carter’s winery on Rancho California Road, up on a hill, sits Monte De Oro. It has a spectacular 180 degree panoramic view, lavish all-stone exterior, glass floor overlook to a barrel room and premium wines. Monte De Oro electrified the wine world by winning the Best of Class, Red Blend at the 2013 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition with its 2008 Synergy 65, a five varietal estate grown wine. This wine earned the TASTE OF WINE February Wine of the Month. ($32 at the winery; Club price is $26.40.)

Robert Renzoni Vineyards is taking the wraps off the new Robert Renzoni Prosecco coming in direct from Italy. They delighted their wine club recently with their brand of Brunello, one of Tuscany’s finest reds and will introduce the latest vintage in mid-February along with the latest Sonata Blend, a big seller at the Italian-style winery on De Portola Road.

The Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association has its next wine country event March 2 and March 3 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It’s the World of Wine (WoW) 2013. Visitors will be able to barrel taste the latest old world style wines that are locally made. Some 30-plus wineries will offer food and wine samplings. This is a self-guided event. Two-day tickets are $99 per person. Full details are yours at

Wine Bytes

Valentines Day events in Temecula are blooming and here are some that crossed my “Bytes” desk.

Thornton Winery is presenting its Romantic Rendezvous Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. with an array of fine cuisine and matching Thornton wines. $90. There is also an optional choice of menu items at Café Champagne from 5 to 9 p.m. For reservations, call (951) 699-0099.

Callaway Winery has a Vine d’Amore Valentines Day dinner Feb. 9 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. held in the Barrel Room. Live entertainment with dinner and Callaway wines. $216 per couple inclusive; $195 for wine club. It also has a Pre Fixe menu at Meritage Restaurant on Valentines Day at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., for $75. To reserve either event, call (951) 587-8889.

Falkner Winery will host a romantic dinner on Valentines Day at its Pinnacle Restaurant. A four-course meal with wine pairings is planned with live entertainment. Seatings start at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $79. VIP Food/Wine Club members pay $69. For an RSVP call the winery at (951) 676-8231 ext.1.

Monte De Oro Winery has its Valentines Day four-course dinner with wine pairing at 7 p.m. A feature will be live music and dancing. Salmon and Filet Mignon top the menu. RSVP at



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