Taste of Wine

Wilson Creek Winery and Vineyards in Temecula Wine Country stands as a beacon to a wine family’s hard work and an attitude of “let’s make it fun.” The Wilsons, with patriach Gerry and his energetic wife Rose, gathered themselves together and acquired the 20 acres they first organized in 1996. They sold their homes and businesses, spread out over the country, and came to Temecula to make wine.
As Bill Wilson puts it, “we are right in the middle of Southern California wine country, 20 miles from the ocean. The decomposed granite soil and climate are perfect for growing grapes and we enjoy the southland lifestyle with about 20 million people to draw from. We want to put Temecula on the map as a major wine country.”
Over the years, it’s been Wilson Creek’s Almond Champagne that single-handedly has lifted the winery into prominence.
This gold-medal winner is naturally fermented, with a hint of almond added, that has enchanted champagne style wine lovers. It has amazed me with its popularity and wide distribution into wine shops up to the largest of supermarkets and discount wine departments. Prices vary, with the wine club at Wilson Creek listing it at $16.95.
“We have tripled our five-year business plan,” declared Bill. “It has allowed us to build new facilities that are functional, including our new Creekside Grille which is kind of a Southern California Wine Country Cuisine Menu. It’s an easy to understand lineup of great food and wines … nothing ostentatious, just comfortable food.” The chef is Clay Blake from the fine restaurants in Seattle before relocating to wine country. Hours at the new addition are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with a lovely Sunday brunch. Reservations can be made by calling (951) 699-9463.
Etienne Cowper, the lead winemaker at Wilson Creek, loves to “bring out the personality of the grape to produce an enjoyable wine.” He has increased the breadth of wines presented. I can personally attest to his handicraft with the new release 2006 Zinfandel ($32.95) with just the right balance of concentrated fruit and spice that a great Zin possesses. For more on Wilson Creek, visit wilsoncreekwinery.com.
2008 harvest in Temecula wine country successful
On Oct. 1 and Oct. 2, Temecula Wine Country held its 2008 Harvest Celebration with winning wines, barrel tastings and food sampling.
They had good reason to celebrate. With wide smiles, the winemakers all felt that the ’08 harvest is among the best ever! “It was an ideal growing season. Just the right amount of early rain and a mild summer. The grapes have gone crazy,” asserted Bill Wilson of Wilson Creek. Mike Tingley of Keyways exclaimed, “So far, fruit quality is excellent.” August was the right time to pick Chardonnay and Syrah used in sparkling wines with red grapes the last to be picked. Up north the cold snap last spring is going to hurt the ’08 vintage in Napa and Sonoma, so Temecula’s 33,000 acres could be producing an ’08 vintage better than most others in California.
The Local Sip
— The Wine Loft in Carlsbad has a Halloween flight going on from 5 to 9 p.m. Oct. 24. Sample Bogle Phantom and other “spooky” specials. Call (760) 434-9463 for details.
— Wine Street in Carlsbad is asking for support for the Komen Breast Cancer Foundation at its Tasting for a Cure from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24. Great lineup of wines to taste plus raffle drawing. The cost is $20 each. Call (760) 431-8455 for details.
— Alternative Wines will start at 6 p.m. Oct. 24 presents Pairing Wine and Cheese, featuring fabulous cheeses from Venissimo. Fee is $29. RSVP at (858) 780-9463.
— Thornton Winery in Temecula celebrates its 2008 Hallow-Wine Party starting at 7 p.m. Oct. 31. The four-star buffet includes two glasses of lovely Thornton wine plus champagne reception. Prizes will be awarded for best costume. The cost is $85 per person. Call (951) 699-0099 for an RSVP.
— Explore Australia is the theme of the wine dinner at Tapenade in La Jolla on from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Oct. 28. Enjoy D’Arenberg wines such as Viognier, Shiraz, Riesling and the brand’s blends. The cost is $92 each. RSVP by calling (858) 551-7500, ext. 1.
— The famous New Zealand wine Kim Crawford is being poured at an Institute of Wine dinner at Roppongi in La Jolla from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Oct. 27. You will taste Rose, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Merlot. Cost is $90 for members and $105 for nonmember guests. Call (619) 297-0951 for details.


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