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!

Part of the Family at Doffo

Doffo Front

I love to research wine country.  Before a trip my planning stages can take more time than the trip itself.  I’m a bit obsessive about this.  Now don’t think that I’m also a control freak.  I tend to also build in multiple options and once we are in wine country I go with the flow.  Well in my research, one of the wineries that I have really wanted to stop by was Doffo. Last year when we were in Temecula they were only open for tastings on weekends, so they were a definite stop on my list this trip.

Doffo Tasting Room in Oil

Doffo Tasting Room in Oil

Doffo is a family owned winery that is almost the last winery as you head east on Rancho California Road in Temecula.  This is a newer winery that was founded in 1997 by Marcelo Doffo.  The family decends from Italians who immigrated to Argentina in the early 1900’s.  Marcelo grew up on his grandfather’s farm in Pampas Argentina.  In the 80’s he traveled to Italy to the northern part of Turin and found his great uncle still making estate wines.  In 1997 he bought the property in Temecula. The logo is an homage to the schoolhouse that used to be on the premises.  If there is one thing Marcelo loves as much as wine it is motocycles.  Be sure to stop by on weekend mornings to get to see the MotoDoffo exhibit in the barrel room.

Doffo Bottles behind Bar

Doffo Bottles behind Bar

We strolled the grounds a little when we arrived, they have a beautiful covered patio next to the tasting room and the residence.  The tasting room was busy and lively and just the right size.  It had a really warm feeling that is the essence of their motto “Visit us once and you are family forever.”  We did a basic tasting and look forward to going back for a reserve tasting.  All the wines here were beautiful and well balanced.  We tasted their beautiful 2011 Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc as well as the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2010 Petite Verdot.

On the wall behind the tasting bar was a shelf filled with wines in gorgeous bottles.  These are the higher end reserve wines.  The Library reserve Zinfandel and the reserve Syrah both of which go for $150 per bottle. These were made it very small lots.  We also tasted some of their chimichurry sauce and left with a jar.

After our tasting I asked for a map for their self guided walking tour.  This lovely stroll around the property was relaxing and informative and is well worth the time.  The tour takes you out of the tasting room past the residence and patio where some of Marcelo’s motorcycles are on display.  You wind around and see the Doffo windmill some of the beautiful terracing they have done then stroll through the Malbec to the front of the property the original stairs to the old school house and the olive tree on the corner of the property before heading back up to the tasting room.  They also make olive oil and infused chocolates.

This beautiful tiny winery has terrific wines and a great atmosphere.  Next time you find yourself in Temecula be sure to stop by!


DOFFO WINERY, TEMECULA, CA from Crushed Grape Chronicles on Vimeo.

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.