In Temecula the winners are …

The fifth annual Southern California Wine Competition awards were presented recently at Wiens Family Cellars in Temecula. The Temecula Wine Society did the necessary work and guests were able to taste the results of the tasting of five notable judges, including Dan Berger, a leading wine columnist since 1976. Special guests were Vince and Audrey Cilurzo, pioneer Temecula winery owners who have now written a definitive book on the history of Temecula wines and the South Coast appellation. Details on this first-ever chronicle of the region can be accessed by e-mailing
After a lovely catered dinner, Jay Coyne, president of the Society, took the mike and announced the judge’s decisions.
Best of Class included Fallbrook Winery for its 2008 Rose. Falkner Winery was honored for its 2008 Reisling. Callaway scored with the 2008 White Dessert Wine. The favorite of the evening was South Coast Winery Resort & Spa. It won Best of Class twice for its Blanc de Blanc Sparkling wine nonvintage and for the 2006 Sangiovese, with grapes harvested from the legendary Wild Horse Peak, 2,200 feet high up on Palomar Mountain. Jon McPherson, South Coast’s accomplished winemaker, was present to receive this prestigious Best of Class. He has often said that Temecula is particularly suited for Italian varietals and especially Sangiovese. His is 100 percent true to its character, barreled in French Oak, with a red licorice and black cherry cola taste. “With some aging, this Sangiovese will taste more like the king of Tuscan wines, Brunello of Montalcino,” McPherson said.
Other gold medal winners at this event were La Cereza with their Girlfriend Roja Vino, Palumbo with the ’05 Cab Franc, Thornton with its ’99 Champensoise, Wilson Creek’s ’08 Muscat and Viognier, Ponte with its ’08 Beverino and Hart for an ‘07 red varietal.
Harvest time for Temecula wineries
In a head-spinning rush of activities and next-level moves, the Temecula Winegrowers Association is on the move, under the direction of Peggy Evans. She has finally inaugurated a 24-page brochure update packed with the latest winery information, maps and other area features like restaurants, hotels and Old Town Temecula attractions. At the same time, the new Web site was unveiled that navigates easily to more than 70 vineyards and wineries. There are coupons and events, even weather information at the click of a link.
September is California Wine Month and to celebrate, Temecula wineries are offering Tasting Passports for the month that save the visitor $10 to $150 in discounts. For full details on this promotion, visit or visit the office at 34567 Rancho California Road in the middle of wine country, each day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
If you’re attracted to Grape Stomps, you can jump up and down on the gooey grapes on the following dates: Callaway will host a Harvest and Stomp Sept. 19 from 4 to 7 p.m.; Oak Mountain has a stomp on Sept. 20; Ponte and South Coast have one on Sept. 27; Wilson Creek’s starts at 5 p.m. Oct. 4; Wiens has its Wiensfest set for Oct. 17. They promise a grape stomp German-style with an Octoberfest Oompah Pah Band, and even some German beer. Ready, set, stomp!
Wine Bytes
— Fallbrook downtown has its final Wine & A Bite Walk that includes bites from six downtown restaurants and wine from Fallbrook Winery from 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 19. Five stores and galleries make it interesting. The cost is $20 per person. Call for details at (877) 451-3282.
— Holiday Wine Cellar in Escondido presents Edna Valley Winery and its Central Coast varietals from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 19. Just $10 gets you wine tastings and food samplers. RSVP at (760) 745-1200.
— Bistro West in Carlsbad is the place to be with its innovative and sweet pricing on wines and events. Their entire stock of wines is reduced 50 percent on Mondays for lunch or dinner. On top of that, Peter Mondavi of Napa’s great Charles Krug Winery will present his wines in a special five-course paired dinner event from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sept. 21. The cost is only $55 each so be sure to RSVP quickly at (760) 930-8008.
— Baci Italian Ristorante in San Diego has combined Sextant Wines from the Central Coast with a lovely Italian-style paired dinner from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Sept. 21. The cost is $65 per person. For a reservation, dial (619) 275-2094.


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