Fazeli Cellars Tasting Room, Old Town Temecula

Fazeli Cellars

When we were in Temecula in December we had passed a sign on the DePortolo Wine Trail for Fazeli Cellars Vineyards. After returning home from that trip I looked them up and found that they had just opened a tasting room in Old Town. The tasting room is stunning it is in the Old Town Center on Fourth Street. The inside it hip, comfortable and inviting. Jasmin welcomed us and set us up at the bar.

Fazeli Tasting Menu

Fazeli Tasting Menu

They have a set tasting menu here and have a place mat with each of the wine listed. They pour the glasses and suggest a tasting order. When they are really busy this is great! You can get all the information you need even when they don’t have time to spend with each person. But…we are spoiled and wonder into tasting rooms when they are almost empty so that we can soak up all the attention and all of the geeky wine information. Jasmin and Nicole were happy to oblige!
The Fazeli family is Persian and is proud of it’s cultural heritage. You see this in the names of the wines and in their favorite grape Shiraz. This grape was named after the beautiful ancient city in Persia.

Fazeli Norooz Celebration

Fazeli Norooz Celebration

We started off with the 2010 Norooz. Named after the Persian New Year which is celebrated in spring and was being celebrated the day we were tasting! This is a white blend perfect for spring which is 70% Viognier and 30% Muscat Canelli. It has a full mouth feel and is light and crisp with peach and apricot.
The 2nd wine we tasted was the 2009 Mehregan which is a blend of 69% Grenache and 31% Shiraz. Mehregan is the Persian Festival of Autumn. This wine is Medium in body with a bit of licorice and earth on the bright red fruits.
The 3rd wine is called their 2009 Pandemonium. With a distinctively hip label this wine is a blend of 43% Petite Sirah, 42% Cabernet Franc, 7% Shiraz, 4% Mourvedre and 4% Grenache. Their tag line on this is “embrace the Chaos”.
The 4th wine was the 2009 Shiraz. They blend this with Grenache and Mourvedre effectively making it a GSM. It is 78% Shiraz, 12% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre. I really enjoyed this wine.
The last wine was the 2009 Yalda. This is a softer blend with the Shiraz at 44% Shiraz, 28% Grenache and 28% Mourvedre. This wine gives notes of tobacco and dried cloves.
They do have quite a few other wines. Including a Cab Franc, their Phel Phel which is 84% Cinsault and 16% Shiraz, a Sauvignon Blanc, a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon called Khayyam among others.
We also tasted the 2010 Petite Sirah which is 100% Petite Sirah and really lovely.
We had a wonderful tasting here. Nicole is so passionate about the wines! She is sure that she can taste the particular blend of granite and clay in the soil from their vineyards in a wine. It’s very distinctive! Another wine geek. God I love ‘em!
To end the night, we needed food and they pointed us in just the right direction. Palumbo’s does amazing Italian food just a block over and we had a great dinner.

Thanks Jasmin & Nicole! We will be back!

Oak Mountain Wine, Music and a view

Oak Mountain Winery

Oak Mountain Winery sits high on the North side of the De Portola Wine Trail with great views of Oak Mountain. You can’t miss the entrance with it’s buckboard wagon emblazoned with the winery name.  This winery houses both Oak Mountain and Temecula Hill Wineries.  Temecula hills is way down De Portola and does not have a tasting room.

Oak Mountain patio Ent

Oak Mountain patio Ent

Every weekend they have live music in their Pavilion next to the tasting room.

Oak Mountain patio

Oak Mountain patio

Oak Mountain pizza

Oak Mountain pizza

We stopped by and the Pavilion was busy and enticed us in with the sign out front advertising gourmet pizza inside.

There was a duo playing and lots of 8 top round tables filling the space.  The band was at the front corner, backed by the great view.  We headed straight for the pizza which was made to order.  They also had a table set up with jewelry and crafts for sale.  Michael took a seat and I went to the tasting bar at the back.  The line was long and they had wines by the glass and wine margaritas in addition to the tastings.  All the wines here were reasonably priced.  We tasted through the 2011 Muscat, 2011 Zinfandel Blanc Noir, 2011 Savignon Blanc,  2008 Grenache Noir, 2009 Merlot, 2009 Tempranillo and a Durif.   We enjoyed our pizza, the music and the view.

In addition to their weekend music they have monthly events that include cooking classes or blending classes.




Villa di Calabro – Downtown tastings for wine, olive oil and balsamics!

Villa di Calabro Winery & Olive Oil Co.

Michael and I visited Villa di Calabro’s tasting room on a trip a while back to Temecula.  They are located downtown in a charming little yellow house built in 1927, close to the Public House (great restaurant!) and across from the City Hall.  It was our last day in Temecula for this particular trip and we were getting ready to drive home, so we didn’t taste the wine, but we did taste the olive oil, vienegar and balsamics!  This was an amazing tasting.  They have sooo many different types of olive oils and a wide variety of balsamics and balsamic reductions.  I am in love with the Peach Melba.  Mike Calabro guided us through the tasting.  He and his wife Mindy can typically be found here running the tasting room.  They have a painter’s palatte that they fill with about 18 different types of olive oil for the tasting and Mike guides you through the differences and the methods of creating these olive oils. I’m a geek and I found it fascinating.  The vinegars are amazing and I love to use the reductions for a simple salad dressing.

Mike was the winemaker at Wilson Creek a while back and at one point bought an Italian olive press to make olive oil at home.  That was the beginning of something amazing.  They have a gorgeous garden out back where you can enjoy a glass of wine after tasting.

I look forward to getting back, tasting some of their wines and picking up some more of their olive oils and balsamic reductions!

Mount Palomar Winery home of California last outdoor solera

Mount Palomar Winery from Crushed Grape Chronicles on Vimeo.

The Mount Palomar Winery has a gorgeous location mid way down the Rancho California Road.  The vineyards were started here in 1969 by John H. Poole, who also became the first winemaker in 1975.  His son Peter took over operating the winery in 1985.  They were the first winery in the valley to focus on the Mediterranean grape varieties.  They have a 30 year history creating Solera Cream Sherry.  This is the only place in California that still uses and outdoor solera to age the Sherry for a minimum of 3 years.

The winery produces under two labels “Mount Palomar” and Castelletto and they focus on Bordeaux style blends and Italian varieties.

The grounds here are beautiful with roses and terraced gardens with tables to enjoy lunch and wine.  They have a beautiful The winery is now owned and operated by Louidar LLC from Arizona and development plans include a resort and spa, estate homes, restaurants, new vineyards and a larger production facility.

The grounds are beautiful with terraced gardens with tables to enjoy lunch and multiple hill top wedding sites.

Shorty’s Bistro is open Monday through Thursday 11:30-4 and Weekends 11:30-6, serving and array of Mediterranean inspired dishes.

The grounds here are lovely with roses and terraced gardens with tables to enjoy lunch and wine.  They have a beautiful The winery is now owned and operated by Louidar LLC from Arizona and development plans include a resort and spa, estate homes, restaurants, new vineyards and a larger production facility.

Make sure to allow extra time here to stroll the beautiful grounds.

Falkner Winery and Pinnacle Restaurant

Falkner Winery

Driving down Rancho California Road in Temecula Wine Country, there is lots to look at.  Beautiful vineyards, wineries on all sides, but you won’t be able to miss Pinnacle restaurant.  The rounded building sits on the hill top on just past Calle Contento Road.  The windows and patio will have you wanting to turn in and take in the view from the other side!  So make the turn and take the steep drive up to this stunning building.  Before you get there, you will find the winery and tasting room tucked into the trees behind the restaurant and I encourage you to stop in here and do a tasting before treating yourself to lunch and the view from Pinnacle.

Falkner Pinnacle

Falkner Pinnacle

The tasting room is open daily from 10-5 and the restaurant is open from 11:30- 3:30 for lunch.  If you get there after 3:30, never fear the gift shop at the tasting room offers food items to purchase and create a picnic to enjoy out on the picnic tables in the tree lined area outside.

You will find great lends such as their Amante which is a Super Tuscan style red with Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.  They also do a Bordeaux style Meritage with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

The winery was founded in 2000 by Ray and Loretta Falkner. They opened the restaurant in September of 2006 and that gorgeous view is 1,500 feet up on the hilltop.  New to me as I researched was the “Wine Cave” below the restaurant.  This VIP room is a barrel shaped room with windows all around to see the barrels and case good that the winery has.  This space seats up to 20 people and is available for special events.

Pinnacle Lunch

Pinnacle Lunch

Michael and I tasted here on our very first trip to Temecula and then returned to have a stunning lunch paired with their wines on a later trip and the restaurant was busy!  When the weather is nice the patio is lovely for lunch.

They offer a monthly Wine Appreciation class with their assistant Winemaker and in-house sommelier.  This is a four hour class that includes lunch and is great for both novices and experts.  You should plan ahead and register in advance for these classes that happen on the second Saturday of each month.  They do have Public Tours available each weekend at 11 and 2 that are $10 per person.

Until you have a chance to get out to the winery and restaurant, you can enjoy a little at home by viewing their MAC and ME cooking classes online with Chef Mike.  Learn how to make Prosciutto wrapped asparagus at home or a wide range of other delicious things.

Frangipani, a piece of paradise on the De Portola Trail

Frangipani Winery

Frangipani…for me I immediately think of the musical “South Pacific”.  Frangipani is the word they use for plumeria the island flower that I grew up making leis with in Hawaii.  So…I envisioned a tropical paradise.  I thought, this winery must be owned by someone creating their own paradise.  Well…it’s a bit simpler than that.  The owner/winemaker is Don Frangipani.  He has however created his own piece of paradise here on the De Portola Wine trail.

We stopped by Frangipani on our final morning in Temecula on our last trip.  They had Sunday Brunch advertised on their website and it seemed like the perfect way to wrap up our trip.

Frangipani Dog Frannie

Frangipani Dog Frannie

We were greeting in the parking lot by “Franni” dog and greeter.  After getting a good scratch he led us to the door.  We were early (as usual) and it was pretty quiet when we arrived.  JoAnn Frangipani, Don’s wife set us up with Mango Mimosas with their house sparkling and pointed us to the buffet.  There were fresh muffins and pumpkin bread as well as bagels with lox. The cook made us fresh pulled pork benedicts and we enjoyed the granola fruit parfaits while we waited for that to finish.  Several groups came in while we were there.

Frangipani Patio

Frangipani Patio

They have an outdoor patio with a great view and bocce ball courts.  JoAnn says the patio stays pretty full in the summer.  We didn’t taste here as we were getting on the road to head home.  I look forward to coming back, tasting and enjoying the patio.  The atmosphere here is warm and friendly and JoAnn immediately makes you feel welcome and at home.

Frangipani View

Frangipani View

Don began working with wine in 1995 at Cilurzo Winery in Temecula.  He opened Frangipani in 2003.  He loves red wines and mixes classic French varieties of Petite Verdot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc with old world Italian styles.  They grow Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petite Verdot, Sangiovese, Grenache and Petite Sirah on their estate.

Europa Village, at Temecula CA

Europa Village corks

Europa Village winery endeavors to take you on a quick trip to Europe to enjoy the wines of France, Italy and Spain.  The gardens here are lovely and they have added a covered patio for large groups. They have a tasting room set up in a French café style plus a room set up like a cave for events.  The wines are under 3 separate labels C’est la Vie Chateau for the French wines including Syrah, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier and Savignon Blanc as well as En Vie which is a Rhone Blend of Grenache, Syrah, Counoise, Cinsault and Mourvedre. Bolero Cellars has the Spanish wines including a Muscat Canelli and Albarino and the Libido which is a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Tempranillo.  Lastly Vienza brings you the Italian varieties which include Sangiovese, Pinot Grigio, a Grenache Rose, Barbera, Primitivo and the Tuscan style blend Primazia which is Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Europa Village Patio

Europa Village Patio

Cave Music Event

Cave Music Event

There are no shortage of events here at the winery with Music on Friday nights, dinner plays, art events where you can learn to paint while sipping away, culinary classes with the chef from The Inn at Europa Village and wine pairing dinners.  We stopped in to see “Lady Truth” play the last time we were in Temecula.  Due to the cold weather everything was set up in the cave and they had wine by the glass or bottle plus there was a tent outside with a Panini vendor that you could order from.  When it is warmer I am sure that the patio makes for a stunning venue!

Europa Village Inn

Europa Village Inn

The Inn boasts 10 stunning rooms named after their wines, with most rooms enjoying a view of the winery below as well as a two-course gourmet breakfast each morning.  The Inn’s patio includes a fire pit and an eight person Jacuzzi.  You can wake up in the morning to watch the balloon tours float overhead, or get up a little extra early and take one of the Balloon rides yourself as they depart from the winery each morning.

This is a great place for a romantic getaway. Watch for Video Blog Entry coming Soon!

South Coast a winery, a resort and a spa.

South Coast Winery & Spa


South Coast is more than a winery it is a complete resort with Villas a restaurant and spa in addition to the winery itself.

The resort was founded by Jim Carter after seeing the moving “A Walk in the Clouds” in the mid nineties.  He created a place “to share the complete wine country experience.”  So with his 38 acres he planted vines then built villas and added a restaurant and a spa.

The villas grouped in 4’s with a shared courtyard have no common walls and the resort has 76 of these spacious villas that sit right on the vineyard behind the winery.  Each has a fireplace, oversized tub and a patio.

The Grape Seed Spa is a three story retreat complete with a pool with cabana rentals, fitness center, private or group yoga sessions with 14 treatment rooms and 3 couples rooms for massages, scrubs or wraps.  Salon services are also available.  Lunch on the  terrace with a special spa menu.  For a really relaxing day try the Vino Vinyasa, a group therapy yoga and wine tasting session.  They call this the “Wine and Unwind” experience.  After your day of pampering enjoy a glass of complimentary wine on the 3rd floor veranda soak in the view of the Temecula valley.

The Vineyard Rose restaurant uses fresh locally grown ingredients and then pairs each entre with a South Coast award winning wine. The Tuscan inspired dining room is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday through Friday and on the weekends you can enjoy Brunch also! In addition to a great menu that can be enjoyed anytime you can also schedule for a Private Chef’s Table diner with a five course menu paired with South Coast Wines.

They offer a range of Resort specials, so if you want to get away and be pampered, this is really the place to go in Temecula Wine Country

Miramonte, 3.0

Miramonte WInery


Miramonte.  What can I say they have created a stunning atmosphere.  Michael got hooked on their Sangria the first time we stopped by and we both fell in love with the artistic atmosphere.  Since our last visit they have expanded the patio and added some wonderful cheese and charcuterie platters.

Miramonte charcuterrie platter

Miramonte charcuterrie platter

These are not cheese and sausage plates.  These are stunning natural wood boards filled with artisan cheeses, meats, fruits, nuts, dips, olives…  So as we were a little hungry we headed over a little early for the evenings music on the patio.  We did a tasting and ordered a charcuterie platter and when it was ready headed out to procure a couch with a heater on the patio. The Picture is taken outside lit by firelight.  The bar on the patio was opening so we could get our tasting there.  After finding a spot and indulging in our charcuterie we were joined by the Miramonte host Mojo.  We met Mojo on our last visit and he was but a puppy then, he has grown quite a bit.  Over the course of the evening, between greeting guests on arrival, he came and curled up in the couch across from us for a little rest (being a host is hard work). It was getting a little chilly and the talent for the night showed up (and threw a little diva fit as he entered the patio with his gear).  With the cold and the complaining talent they moved the music inside.  Unfortunately, all the seats inside were full by now and we did leave early.  But it was a lovely evening regardless.  The wine here is good, the atmosphere stunning with a spectacular view.  We did of course snap some photos.  This place doesn’t take a bad photo.  Enjoy!

Thornton Winery – Jazz, Bubbles, great food and atmosphere!

Thornton Sign


Thornton winery is one of the first wineries that greet you as you drive into Temecula Wine Country.  A Champagne house this French style chateau sits on a hill on the South Side of Rancho California Road.  Opening in 1988 they create premium wines as well as Sparkling wines done in the Methode Champenoise.

As you walk in through the entrance at the side of the complex you pass the herb gardens that will awake your senses with all the aromas and prepare you to find all those frangrances in the wines.  Past the herb garden it opens out into the Fountain Terrace where outdoor events and concerts are held.  The fountain dominates the center of the courtyard providing a soothing sound.  A large tree shades the terrace providing a quiet and relaxing atmosphere.  If there is not an event, stroll over to the stage area on the far side of the terrace and enjoy the view.   You can also enjoy the view from Café Champagne which rims most of the terrace. Café Champagne is the perfect place for lunch or dinner or brunch on Sunday.  The menu includes pairing suggestions for each dish, and flights are available.  And check out their entertainment schedule! World renowned Contemporary Jazz artists perform here on weekends throughout the summer.

The Champagne Lounge allows you to sit at a table and enjoy a flight of 4 wines or champagnes.  They have several suggested flights or you can create your own.  They also offer a Bistro menu with suggested wine pairings.

The winemaker here is David Vergari.  A native of Sonoma County who studied at UC Davis, he began his career in wine at Sonoma-Cutrer and The Hess Collection in Napa then traveled to work at Coldstream Hills in Austrailia and Covisa in Spain.  He did further work as a research enologist at Joseph Phelps vineyard and then moved to Rutz Cellars in the Russian River Valley as winemaker before joining Thornton.

We have enjoyed both lunch and dinner here at Café Champagne and were never disappointed.  When we are back I look forward to enjoying a flight and a bite at the Champagne Lounge and perhaps coming on a weekend in the summer to enjoy one of the amazing Jazz concerts.

Monte de Oro – “Vines, Wine, People”

Monte De Oro depcicted in oil

This Temecula Valley winery is impressive as you drive up toward the end of Rancho California Road. The building sits on a rise and is expansive and inviting. In the early mornings there are typically balloons taking off from here making for picture perfect morning shots with their vineyards out front.

Monte De Oro Tasting Room Window View

Tasting Room Window View

The Monte de Oro winery is owned by OGB (One Great Blend) Partners, which is a collection of 68 family owners from across America, South Africa and the UK.

The Vineyards are located around the valley. The first, Vista Del Monte was planted in 2002 with 18 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. They added 18 acres at the DePortola vineyard and 23 acres at the Galway vineyard in 2003 planted with Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Zinfandel, Viognier, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat Canelli.

In 2007 they broke ground on the winery and in 2008 planted their 4th vineyard at the winery growing Cinsault, Mourvedre, Grenache, Petite Sirah, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Tempranillo.

Monte de Oro Underground Cave

Monte de Oro Underground Cave

Committed to sustainability the winery created a basement wine cave under the winery rather than building a barrel room above ground that would need to have a system for climate control. One of the most impressive sites in the building is walking across the glass floor that allows you to see down into the barrel room. They are also planning to build a gravity flow winery which reduces the energy needed to pump the wine as well as being gentler on the grapes, and they are looking to add solar panels to supply energy in the future.

The tasting room here is huge with beautiful views of the patio and beyond that the valley. They offer a variety of tours and private tastings that you can schedule in advance in addition to the Standard and Black Label Tastings available daily in the tasting room. Also open on the weekends is the MDO Bistro offering a Bistro menu Friday thru Sunday from 11-4.

Monte de Oro patio

Monte de Oro patio

When we visited the winery was busy and it was towards the end of the day. We tasted through a wide variety of their wines, most of which they produce about 250 cases each. All of the wines are very affordable running from $18 to $33 per bottle. watched a group head out for a tour while we were there and I would like to return to do a tour and learn a little more about their wines.

Adventures at Van Roekel

Van Roekel Sign

Van Roekel is the sister property to Maurice Car’rie.  It sits on the hill overlooking Maurice Car’rie and is where their winemaker Gus produces his more refined wines.  The winery complex is on a drive that includes the Van Roekel winery, a small wine country art gallery, the Temecula Wine Makers Association offices and the Van Roekel tasting room.  The tasting room has a sparkling wine menu and a regular menu.

Van Roekel tasting room

Van Roekel tasting room

The pourers in the tasting room were friendly and we had great conversation while we tasted the wines.  We began with the Gewurztraminer which was crisp and not overly sweet and is a great buy at $12.95.  All the wines here are very reasonably priced.  We also tasted their White Zin , and the Chardonnay which was very crisp and slightly sweet and very un Chard like to me, but fascinating enough that I took a bottle home.  On to the reds.  The 2011 Merlot had a bit of oak and spice and a light mouth feel with butter on the end and only a slight hint of tannins.  The Syrah was medium bodied with light silky tannings and pepper with a cooling bit of eucalyptus on the nose.  This felt very finessed for a syrah, not your big fruit bomb or barnyard style syrah.  The 2008 Grenache was full of plums and had higher tannins.  The Papa Red is a non vintage blend that gave you cooked berries on the nose and a variety of fragrances that my nose could not pick out. They were very well rounded and blended.  Bright tannins fill your mouth and there is a little hint of oxidations which is actually very pleasant and provides a depth of flavor.  There is a little bit of barnyard/wet dog on this that is very nice.  This wine is extremely unique.

Our afternoon here was very nice.  The wines, while not what I typically think of for the varieties were very enjoyable as well as cost effective.  These wines are an adventure and one that caught me by surprise and I enjoyed.