Danza Del Sol, exploring Temecula Wine Country

Danza Del Sol Winery, Taste Temecula Wine Country from Crushed Grape Chronicles on Vimeo.

If you keep up with the blog you will remember that we were in Temecula back in December.  On that trip we stopped at Danza del Sol and fled in fear of the completely packed tasting room!  We intended to return mid week early in the day so we could taste the wines and talk with the people in the tasting room to find more out about this winery.  So…on this last trip to Temecula we did just that, pulling into the tasting room to be their first tasters of the day.  Tommy took care of us and was a wealth of information.

This winery had been owned by William and Katherine Filsinger who purchase 35 acres of vineyard property on De Portola in 1978.  The vineyards had been planted with Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc in 1972.  Dr. Filsinger planted the first Gewurztraminer in southern California.

The Winemaker here is Mike Tingley, who was the winemaker at Cirluzo.  With 30 years experience in the Temecula Valley his goal is “To craft varietal wines and innovative blends that not only are delicious, but have identity”.

The winery is now owned by Robert Olson and the winery now produces wines with a Mediterranean influence.

As we tasted through the wines here, there was nothing we didn’t enjoy, some though were out of the park wonderful.  The 2011 Le Blanc SV, the Sinfonia, the Rousanne, the 2011 Vermentino, the 2010 Mourvedre, the Cab Franc, Merlot, Syrah were all wonderful and we didn’t taste half the menu! The Trilogy and the 2010 Grenache were amazing.  This Grenache is the perfect early summer wine, when it is warm and you want the flavors of a red without the heavy body.

Tommy was kind enough to fill us in on all the geeky wine stuff, talking about the vineyard blocks and where each of the grapes were grown on the property.

We had originally planned to take a tour here, but the time slot we needed to fit in our somewhat full schedule was not available.  We will come back and do a tour with Tommy.  We were thrilled enough with the wines and the information that we joined the club.  They have a clubhouse just above the tasting room that is exclusive for members.   As we mentioned before…it gets crowded here on the weekends!

They have music on the patio on weekends as well as monthly “Get Sauced” events which include a cooking demo, class & small plates.  The tasting room is open daily from 11-6 and is dog and equestrian friendly.

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.

 

 


Pictures


Wilson Creek, so much more than Almond champagne

Wilson Creek Sign Art in Oil

I will admit to a bit of snobbery.  I really had no desire to go to Wilson Creek in Temecula. I mean you find bottles of their Almond champagne in Long’s Drug Stores (well you did when they were around).  I figured how could they be creating wine I would like to drink?  Well… there is a lot more to them then the Almond champagne.

Wilson Creek is located at the far east end of Rancho California Road and it is rare that you will get there and find the parking lot not full.  While the grounds are huge and beautiful, a favorite for weddings and the buildings and event center large and impressive, this is still a family affair at heart.

Wilson Creek View

Wilson Creek View

Gerry and Rosie Wilson acquired the 20 acre vineyard in 1996 with the simple intent of running a fun family business and making great wine. With the entire family, children and grand children as well as 5 golden retrievers who can be seen often on property, they have succeeded in making this a family affair.

The Lower Garden is open to parties of 10 or less for picnicing. They just ask that you don’t come to camp!  No tents or shade covers, ice chests or animals and no outside alcoholic beverages.

The Creekside Restaurant offers a menu for lunch that can be enjoyed around the grounds.  You place your order at the Concert Stage and it will be delivered to you in the upper garden.  You can enjoy this in the lower garden also, but you will need to pick up your order.  The menu includes a variety of lunch items as well as a full wine list, beer and other beverages.

With their Event Center Wilson Creek stays busy with Corporate Events and private parties.  The Event Center includes 3 spaces that can accommodate 50-300 people each with a dance floor.  In addition they have two stages that can accommodate up to 400 guests.  Really this place can be party central for 6 or 7 large parties at time!

Bill Wilson is the son and owner.  He works with his Mom & Dad, Brother & Sister, Wife, brother in law & sister in law.  (Did I mention that this was a family affair?) Bill’s Mom and Dad can often be seen on the grounds with their two golden retrievers. They have 92 acres and grow 12 varieties on the estate and then source some grapes.  The varieties used in their wines include: Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Muscat, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Mourvedre, Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Syrah and Zinfandel.  They also . When you listen to Bill you know that you are not dealing with a corporation, this is a joyful family affair.  They incorporated what they loved about the wineries they visited when they created Wilson Creek.  And it’s not just about their winery, they want to promote Temecula and encourage people to come and taste, enjoy and learn.  Listen to the great interview with him at http://www.temeculawines.org/videos/ and see exactly what I mean.

I didn’t think it was possible that Wilson Creek used Methode Champenois for their almond champagne, and I was right. There is no way they could do that and sell it at that price!  What I was surprised by, was that they do use the Charmat method which is fermenting the wine in bulk in stainless steel tanks!  The final method they actually refer to as “cheating” on their site.  In this method CO2 is injected into the wine.  Typically this method causes very large bubble that can cause Huge headaches!  They do not cheat at Wilson Creek.  They do, by the way have a wonderful section of their website on wine education called Wine 101 that Mick Wilson put together with fascinating information on Barrels, Port, Champagne, Wine Varietals and much more.  http://www.wilsoncreekwinery.com/Wine-101/Default.aspx

Wilson Creek Picnic View

Wilson Creek Picnic View

The next time you are in Temecula, drive all the way out Rancho California to Wilson Creek, taste some wine, stroll the grounds and say hello to the Wilson’s.  You will know them by the golden retrievers at their sides!

Baily Vineyard and Winery – Wines worth stopping for

Baily Vineyards Sign

We have been to Temecula several times and I have done lots of research on the area and one of the wineries that our radar just kept missing was Baily.  As you drive on Rancho California Road from Temecula it is on the left  just past Europa Village.

Baily Tasting room

Baily Tasting room

The grey stone building is dotted with vines and houses the tasting room as well as Carol’s restaurant.  This is one of Temecula’s oldest wineries and produces all Estate grown wines.

Baily Vineyards lion sculpture

Baily Vineyards lion sculpture

Walking in you notice the sculptures, the angels and gargoyles and then walking into the restaurant are greeted by a big warm fireplace, suits of armor and tapestries.  It’s a little medieval.  They also have a patio outside for al fresco dining, but the fire looked much better to us on this slightly chilly day.  I had a lovely Sangiovese rose with lunch.  They have Dog Day Sundays where they encourage you to bring your well-behaved pooch to enjoy lunch on the patio. They have music as well as a doggie menu!  Decorated for the holidays the tree was up and some of the gargoyles were wearing Santa hats.  They have a small stage in here for music. After lunch by the fire we headed into the tasting room.

I had no expectations here.  I had read brief descriptions on their website and other than that all I knew was that they had been producing wines here for 25 years.  We were welcomed to the tasting room and Bill took care of our tasting. Bill is full of great information on the Temecula Valley and the winery so we chatted it up during our tasting.

The Baily’s bought this property in 1982 and they mostly grow reds.  All the grapes are estate grown and their wines tend to be dry. They produce about 5,000 cases each year.  They do age in small oak barrels typically for 30 months which is a pretty long time.  The wines were smooth and well-balanced without being fruit bombs or being over-oaked. We tasted the 2010 Montage which is 56% Sauvignon Blanc and 44% Semillon.  This medium bodied white wine was rounded on the palate with a nose of lemon and lime and crisp granny smith apple.  This had been used in my pasta sauce at lunch and was very nice.  The Malbec is from newer self rooted vines planted in 2004.  This wine gave you berries with deep flavor and a long finish.  The 2009 Cabernet Franc was long and smooth and very well-balanced.   Lighter than most Cabernet Francs it had a hint of chocolate.  The 2009 Merlot was especially good and with a $20 price tag is a steal. The atmosphere the information and the wines will definitely bring me back here.  We will also try to stop by their other restaurants downtown.  Their son and daughter in law run Baily’s Elegant Dining and the Front Street Bar & Grill in Old Town.

So put Baily on your radar, these are wines worth stopping for.

 

“Fine Wine – Good Times” – Bel Vino

It was a little Tardis like!  Beautifully located on the top of a hill overlooking the valley the Bel Vino Tasting room is rustic in dark wood from the outside.  You walk in and it’s bigger on the inside then it looks on the outside!  We walked through one tasting room to the tasting bar at the back.  We were the first people of the day on a Thursday.  Nate was at the bar and told us just to relax and drink.

Bel Vino was previously known as Stuart Cellars.  Marshall and Susan Stuart started this winery in 1998 and just recently sold the winery, but still remain on staff producing the same great wines and service.  The business had grown and they were involved in all aspects of the business. Now they can get back to winemaking.

In addition to the two large tasting bars there is a barrel room reserved for wine club members that also serves as extra space for the “Tapas & Wine Pairings” on Saturdays and Sundays.  They require no reservations for the Tapas and Pairings but there is an additional $9.95 charge for the Tapas in addition to your tasting.  This tasting room is dark and warm and very comfortable.

As we began discussing the tasting Nate filled in with great information on the wines the vineyards and the winemaking methods.  All the wines here are unfiltered. The Field Blend was lovely.  It is a white blend that they do annually.  This year is was 55% Chard, 35% Riesling and 10% Sav Blanc.  Nate tells the story that this was a happy accident.  A blending mistake a few years ago caused them to add a third varietal to temper the blend and it came out surprisingly good!  Here’s to happy accidents.

Bel Vino Picnic Grounds

Bel Vino Picnic Grounds

During the Spring and Summer there are plenty of events here at Bel Vino and it also makes a great location for special events.