Banging the drum for our local Temecula wines

My in-box is loaded with optimistic news on Temecula Wine Country. It’s time to catch a rising star in the wine world. (Are you paying attention Wine Spectator ?) 
Peggy Evans, executive director of the Winegrowers Association, just added Krista Chaich to the marketing team to further fine tune the message of Southern California’s home wine country, with 30 some vineyards and wineries that specialize in Mediterranean climate grapes.
Long-time wine marketing pro Karen Lindstrom is now in catering sales and marketing for Callaway Vineyard and Winery, and it looks like the long-awaited Europa Village is headed to reality. I was recently contacted by a spokesman.
Over at Falkner Winery, the irrepressible and suave Angelo Abril is now restaurant manager for the premier Pinnacle Restaurant for Ray and Lorreta Falkner. The pair hosted an elegant holiday winemaker five-course dinner with Falkner’s best wines, including my favorite, the 2006 Amante Super Tuscan style blend ($39.95). It marries up the flavors of Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab Franc. Pinnacle is offering Mediterranean-style lunches since Executive Chef Gianni Ciciliot got his hands on the menu. A leading regional publication has awarded Pinnacle “Best Restaurant” the last three years.  It will be open for Valentine’s Day Wine Dinners Feb. 12, Feb. 13 and Feb. 14 with timed seatings. Call (951) 676-8231, ext. 1 for an RSPV and pricing.
Over at Keyways, Terri Pebley and her winemaker David Raffael, introduced me to their latest wine, Traditions, a Merlot varietal from the Woodworth Vineyard in nearby Deluz.  It has an irresistible ruby color with rich flavors of plum, cherry and mocha ($31).  Keyways Voignier is always rich and complex with tropical notes, accents of peach and apricot, and the 2009 version carries this tradition ($27).
South Coast Winery, Resort and Spa is breaking new ground with a new release for a new label, from a new vineyard in southeastern Monterey County. It’s called Saint’s Valley Winery and its first release is the 2010 White Zinfandel with a price starting at $3.99.  Master Winemaker Jon McPherson promises a new day for this “blush” historic varietal.
A new book has just been launched by Temecula writers and publicists Tom Plant and Linda Kissam called “A Recipe for Temecula Wine Country” ($19.98). It’s a contemporary cookbook featuring recipes from 22 of Temecula’s finest wineries. Vivid color pictures make it a mouth-watering experience, with pairing suggestions and recipes.
The book is already in circulation at local wineries and is coming soon to Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Call Linda Kissam for locations at (951) 526-4540.
The next big Temecula winery event is the World of Wine 2011 on March 5 and March 6. It’s barrel tasting and gourmet food servings in an all-day self-guided tour. Limited time pre-sale two-day ticket is $89. Visit for details.
Wine Bytes
Valentines Day in a winery and vineyard … now that’s romantic! Here are more choices in Temecula. 
— South Coast Winery Resort and Spa has a Valentine’s Wine Dinner on Feb. 14 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. The chefs have a special menu and live music. The cost is $95 per person with a select bottle of wine. RSVP at (951) 587-9463, ext 7237.
— Tesoro Winery has a “Dolce Pomeriggio” (sweet afternoon) from 4 to 7 p.m. Feb. 12. Wine, champagne, chocolate and love songs with the Deek and Long duo. Cost is $26 each. Call (951) 308-0000 for more information.
— Oak Mountain has a winemaker dinner from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 12. Four-course filet mignon dinner with chef Michael from the Ritz Carlton and Oak Mountain favorite releases. For tickets, call (951) 699-9102.
— Thornton Winery has its Romantic Rendevous at 7 p.m. Feb. 12. Adults only Valentine’s Day celebration with strolling violinists. Choice of glamorous venues in the winery. Filet mignon and salmon entrée. The cost is $85 per person. Call for RSVP at (951) 699-0099.
— Callaway Winery has a Vino d’Amore Dinner from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 12. It features sparkling wine, live music and dinner in the barrel room. The cost is $90 each. Call (951) 676-4001 for seats.
— Keyways has two Valentines events: Feb. 12 with That’s Amore, a four-course dinner and entertainment from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. for $99; and Cupid’s Walk, a romantic winery tour from 3 to 4 p.m. Feb. 14 where you’ll  sip wines and learn a little about winemaking for $17. RSVP (951) 302-7888.


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