Taste of Wine

A blend of fine wine and fine living in the heart of Temecula

The intimate world of cultivating fine wine and fine resort living recently crossed paths for me in the rich, country life of Temecula. It’s a great life when you can experience a memorable occasion on a given day, but when two such experiences present themselves; the stars are in true alignment.In a personal“hands-on” experience into the world of winemaking, owner and winemaker Nick Palumbo of the Palumbo Family Vineyard and Winery, collaborated with the nearby Temecula Creek Inn, the pristine golf course inspired 350-acre resort, with upscale dining and woven into the wine country of Temecula. Similar in philosophy, Palumbo is all about quality, handcrafted production that goes into his offerings.

Owner and winemaker Nick Palumbo points out the re-shaping and re-forming on the vine branches, critical to the growth of wine grapes. Photo by Frank Mangio

Temecula, with its rolling hills and awakening Winter/Spring vines are an especially awe-inspiring sight as winemakers like Palumbo carefully craft the pruning process, setting the table for the fruit of the later months.

The management at Temecula Creek Inn, recently provided this guest experience in an Inn sponsored “Grape to Glass” first-of-a-series wine tour, complete with a lesson on effective pruning from Nick Palumbo.

Under a brilliant morning sun, Palumbo told us of his simple philosophy for rich, complex wines. “I produce only what I grow myself,” he asserted. “I keep my yields low and I enjoy sharing what we do here. Less is more when it comes to quality. We have 13 acres under vine and sell 2,500 cases of artisinal wine, farmed without compromise.” He and his wife Cindy and family live on the property and I was fascinated by his disclosure of how each of the several hills and gullies have their own varietals, microclimates and timetable for pruning during the dormant winter season. “The low spots are the last to get pruned, to guard against frost,” he said. “When budding begins, we will see it first in the Cab Franc and Merlot, then the Sangiovese grapes really pop fast. They love the terrior here.”

Palumbo bought an existing 7-acre vineyard and home in 1998. He applied his Sicilian ancestry and a 24/7 mentality to learning as much as he could about winemaking, bought more land next door and in 2002 opened the winery.

The signature Palumbo Wine “Tre Fratelli” is center stage on a panoramic Balcony Room overlooking Temecula Creek Inn’s golf course. Photo by frank Mangio

Here are two Palumbo wines that capture the essence and style of this lovely winery:
— The 2009 Sangiovese ($34.) that Palumbo describes as “summertime in a bottle.” Taste light cherry flavors, along with roasted tomato and earthy spices.
— The 2008 Tre Fratelli, 3 brothers in Italian ($42.) A traditional blend of 40 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 40 percent Merlot and 20 percent Cabernet Franc. Taste the class and elegance of toasted vanilla and caramel with black cherry and plum palate-taste.
Temecula Creek Inn and Nick Palumbo are planning the 2nd part of “Wine to Glass” Friday September 28 on Harvesting, and the 3rd part November 9 on Blending. Call Temecula Creek Inn for details at (877) 517-1823.

Wine Bytes

VINZ Wine Bar and Club in Escondido is hosting a St. Patrick’s Day show March 17 from 6 to 11:30 p.m. featuring Heloise Love & the Lacemakers with Irish folk music. RSVP at (760) 743-8466.

The San Diego Chapter of the American Wine Society has its next meeting open to the public March 18 at San Diego Wine Storage in Solana Beach at 2 p.m. The wines of Virginia will be featured. The state is the 5th largest producer of wine in the country. Tasting fee of $17 for members; $20 for non-members. RSVP at sdchapter.aws40@yahoo.com.

Baker & Olive Encinitas is partnering with La Villa in Little Italy San Diego for an olive oil, balsamic & wine pairing dinner March 20 from 6 to 9 p.m. Cost is $65. RSVP at (619) 255-5221.
Wine Vault and Bistro in San Diego has a Tablas Creek Winemaker Dinner with Jason Haas March 20 and March 21 from 5:45 to 9 p.m. Five wines will be served. $49.50 ea. Call (619) 295-3939 for a seat.

The legendary Napa Valley Howell Mountain appellation is coming to San Francisco for a 30-winery tasting March 21. Trade and media 2 to 6:30 p.m., public 4 to 6:30 p.m. at Bently Reserve. Public price is $55. Call them at (707) 965-2665.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. His library can be viewed at www.tasteofwinetv.com. (Average Google certified 900 visits per day) He is one of the top five wine commentators on the Web. Reach him at mangiompc@aol.com.

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