Family style winemakers gather at Del Mar Fairgrounds

So how’s the family? If it’s the Family Winemakers of California, they’re doing just fine thank you.For the fifth consecutive year, this association of wine producers with an active membership of 550 California wineries will be coming to the San Diego area and assembling 175 producers March 9 and March 10 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall. The Saturday show is for the public, as well as trade and press with public hours from 3 to 6 p.m.

For all public ticket options and prices visit

A big idea from this event is that no matter where you go throughout California you will find winemakers making quality wines. I spoke to Ray Falkner from Temecula Wine Country about pouring side by side with Napa and Sonoma wines.

He confidently commented, “We pour at these events because it gives the trade and the public the opportunity to sample our wonderful Temecula wines in comparison to other regions. Most wine writers don’t know much about Temecula Valley and think about us as a small hot region.

“Wine events like this allow consumers to make up their own minds on what wines are worth purchasing.”

I asked Falkner what kinds of wines he would be bringing.

“We have our 2011 Viognier, 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, 2008 Amante-Super Tuscan, 2008 Meritage-Bordeaux Blend and 2009 Cachet Syrah Blend, made for wine club members,” he said.

In Napa Valley, Ceja Vineyards is prepping and packing their ultra-premium wines for the trip south with their gold-winning wines like the 2008 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and 2010 Carneros Napa Valley Chardonnay. They’ll also be pouring Carneros Pinot Noir, Vino de Casa red blend and Dulce Beso late harvest white wine.

The latest gold came from the San Francisco Chronicle Competition, one of the toughest and most competitive in California.

Ceja’s tasting room is in downtown Napa and combines with an art gallery for a complete sensory experience.

Three generations of the Ceja family work their 113 producing acres and have grown wine grapes for 47 years for other top quality wineries. The Ceja brand was launched in 2001.

Company President Amelia Ceja is the first Mexican-American to be the president of a wine production company.

David Ramey owns Ramey Cellars in Sonoma County’s Healdsburg.

He makes traditional, artisan wines with elegance and richness, drawing grapes from both Napa Valley and Sonoma.

I asked him what it’s like to be both an owner and winemaker. “Owning a winery is the dream of every winemaker,” he said. “At Ramey Wine Cellars, we have a team environment where everyone feels empowered to contribute. My hope is to create an atmosphere of great opportunity for all,” he noted.

He also is Family Winemakers top representative as chairman of the board, where he brings that big idea to the organization.

“We’re in a vibrant industry with room for the small winemaker to move in. Good people help each other out with events such as the one in Del Mar. There is lots of diversity. Ramey Wine Cellars will be one of those you can taste test. The complete list is on the web site at


Wine Bytes

March 2 and March 3, Temecula Wine Country celebrates the World of Wine when 30-plus wineries offer their latest releases and barrel tasting, with gourmet food sampling. Details on the self-guided tour including pricing, at (800) 801-WINE.

SDSU has an intensive course focusing on French Wines, March 4 to March 18 from 6 to 9 p.m. on campus. This is part of the Certificate of Wine program. For details, call (619) 594-1138.

The Laguna Beach A La Carte Food and Wine Experience is a celebration taking place around town March 9 from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Price ranges from $75 to $145. Hear details at (949) 497-9229.

Wiens Family Cellars in Temecula presents a Reserve Zinfandel and Chocolate Dinner, March 8. Four-course dinner. $62.50. RSVP at (951) 694-9893.

The first of a series of 2013 Musical Wine Pairing Dinners at Europa Village in Temecula will be unveiled March 21 at 6:30 p.m. A four-course French dinner, each with Europa Village french wines, will be topped off by professional singing waiters. Cost is $79. Details and RSVP at



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