Historically I have not been a big fan of Temecula wine country. As of now that has changed.. completely! My most recent visit was a day trip and I completely fell vine over hills in love.
I am now a fan and I love Temecula wine country. Here are the top three reasons why:
Our first stop was Baily Vineyard & Winery, established in 1986 this family owned winery features Bordeaux style wines. The winemaker is Phil Bailey.
I tasted through almost all the wines on the list. My favorite was the 2016 Sangiovese, not a Bordeaux style wine, however a well made light body Italian varietal that had a perfect balance of fruit, spice and mild tannins. To be completely transparent I did not care too much for the white wines, they lacked the acidity that I usually crave in whites. The reds exceeded my expectations! It was difficult for me to single out a second place favorite, the reds were all delicious. Malbec, Cab Franc, and even a Meritage were all well balanced with typical flavor profiles and pleasing. We even tasted a 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon who’s vines were planted in 1968. It was filled with the complexity,fruit layers and bit of funk you’d expect in an old vine wine.
The tasting room vibe was relaxed and welcoming. Cindy helped us and I could have not asked for a better hostess with the mostest! Tasting fees $15 for 6,bottle price $20-$65. No reservation required.
Stop #2 Winetasting at Vindemia
Next up was Vindemia Vineyards & Winery. I selected this winery for the view! The beautiful property sits on 7 acres of Temecula hilltop and over looks a good portion of valley’s vineyards. It also matched well with my theme for the day, “family owned and operated”. Winemaker Dave Bradley, his son Dillion and his wife all manage the resort like operation together. I say resort because this winery could easily be an all day experience, they offer hot air ballon rides in addition to wine tasting. The outdoor patio is perfect for a picnic and all day relaxing with wine. They focus on Rhône style varietals. My first taste was a viognier. The profile floral, then fruity with a bit of a leafy finish. Because the grapes come from Santa Ynez they maintained good structure with just enough acidity to spark a twinkle in my mouth. I also liked the Sangiovese, Charlie who guided us through our wine experience told me that Temecula is on the same latitude as Tuscany. No wonder red varietals from Italy do so well! At Vindemia we also tasted typical varietals you see in California. Tasting with Charlie was great! He guided us through a vertical tasting of their More Cowbell. It’s their proprietary red blend of Zinfandel and Cab Franc. We started with the 2013- a party wine, crowd pleasing, big fruit and a hint of sweetness on the finish. Next we tasted the 2015- it is a bit more serious, focused fruit and hints of bell pepper on the finish. A great wine for food. Last the vertical line up Charlie surprised us with the 2016- a perfect intersection of 2013 and 2015. It was big, with prominent dark plum and blackberry flavors, the finish rustic and earthy.
Tasting fees $25, Bottle price $32-$180
Stop #3 Palumbo Family Wines
Last but certainly not least was Palumbo. Pronounced like the 70’s TV show Colombo. This place was truly special. The reason I visited was because when I was doing research I read that the wine maker Nicholas Palumbo was also a grape grower ...a farmer!Palumbo specializes in red wine. Of course they poured what I now consider Temecula’s defining red grape Sangiovese. All the wines were excellent! By this last stop however I stopped taking details notes and simply enjoyed the wine. Plus the son Reed who manages the vineyard and also helps his Dad make wine stopped in in the tasting room and allowed my to ask more than 20 questions about his family, the farm and their winemaking techniques. All I could do was sip and enjoy every moment. I purchased two of the five wines we tasting: the 50/50 the Cab and Syrah blend and the Meritag. The tasting at Palumbo was a beautiful ending to a full day in Temecula wine country.
Tasting fee $15 per person. Bottle prices $45 - $52 ($100+ for library wines)
Tuanni Price, the owner of Zuri Wine Tasting. A wine Enthusiast and adventurer, loves everything about the wine experience