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.

Lorimar Winery, inspired by Music and Art

Lorimar Winery, Inspired by Music and Art from Crushed Grape Chronicles on Vimeo.

We stopped back to check out the new tasting room at Lorimar Winery  in Temecula Wine Country.  Check it out.

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!

Explore Temecula, luxury on a budget

Temecula Wine Country

We have been to Temecula numerous times.  You would think we have been to all of the wineries by now…nope, there are 42 wineries in Temecula currently, that I am aware of.  Although on this trip I heard the name of another that I was unaware of.  On this trip we revisited a few wineries, some to do more in depth tours, some to try again as it had been quite a while since we had been there, and then a couple we had not been to, some of which had only previously been open on weekends.

Our plan was luxury on a budget and the means to this end was suffer then indulge.  We typically travel mid-week which in itself helps with the budget. Luckily the suffering part wasn’t really suffering at all.  We wanted to stay at the Inn at Europa Village.  Since Chef Dean Thomas and his wife Nicole became the Innkeepers here, they have updated the rooms and the property and serve an incredible 2-course gourmet breakfast.

Europa-Moulin-RougeEuropa Village was also having a wine pairing dinner with their French style wines, which Chef Dean was cooking, so… we booked our trip to take advantage of this and indulge.  Quite honestly, that makes for a bit of an expensive trip, so for our first day we found a less expensive hotel and planned to eat a little more frugally.  We stayed at the Extended Stay America in Temecula at an extremely affordable rate.  These rooms were also recently updated and the room was clean and comfortable.

We drove in Wednesday and had two tours booked for the day.  The first was at noon at Miramonte where we are members and included a tour, the tasting of 10 wines and a bit of pairing.  We had been warned to have lunch before arriving, and packed a lunch to eat on the way.  At 4 pm we had a tour at Lorimar.  We had stopped by here in December to their new tasting room and winery in wine country and had not had an opportunity to taste.  After our second tour we headed down to check in at the Extended Stay America, rested a little and then headed into Old Town to taste at Fazeli, the valley’s newest winery and then have dinner.  The Fazeli tasting room just opened this last fall.  It is a beautiful space and Nicole and Jasmine are passionate about the wines.  They recommended Palumbo’s Italian restaurant, just 2 blocks over for a late dinner.  We arrived just ½ before close and enjoyed great pasta, perfectly cooked and a couple of glasses of wine before heading back to the hotel to wrap up day one.

Thursday’s plan was to taste at Danza del Sol and Keyways on the De Portola wine trail after shooting some shots of sunrise.  Well, the clouds didn’t quite cooperate, but we did get some great vineyards shots.

We skipped tasting at Danza del Sol on our last trip.  It was a weekend and we walked in and the place (which is large) was packed.  We opted to return mid-week when it was less crowded and we might have the opportunity to really speak with the person in the tasting room and find out about the wines.  I am really glad that we did.  The wines are really wonderful (Mike Tingley is the winemaker) and Tommy was wonderful giving us all the information on the vineyards and winemaking methods…we all geeked out a little about wine in general.  We were enamored enough to join the club here.  All the wines had finesse and depth.  From here we moved on to Keyways.  The last time we were here it was right before Christmas and they were holding the Victorian Christmas Faire.  This time we stopped in to taste and see the beautiful Brazilian Onyx bar.

We were running earlier than expected so we added a bonus winery to Thursday and stopped at Wilson Creek.  We tasted at Wilson Creek several years ago on our very first trip to Temecula.  The property has changed dramatically since then and in addition to tasting we explored the beautiful grounds.

Inn at Europa

Inn at Europa

By now it was time to head back to check in at The Inn at Europa Village.  This place is fantastic and we were pampered from the moment we stepped through the door.  We rested a bit and then got dressed for the “Moulin Rouge” dinner at Europa Village down the hill.  The evening began on the patio then moved into the “Cave” for the pairing dinner and entertainment.

Day 3, Friday began slowly with watching a couple of balloons land just west of us somewhere behind the Callaway vineyards.  We got dressed and headed down to enjoy breakfast served on the patio with an amazing view of the vineyards and another hot air balloon landing.  We didn’t want to leave, but more wine awaited us!

We checked out and changed our plans. We had intended to taste at Europa and then downtown to Villa de Calabro, but since we tasted at Europa the night before, we opted to fit in a couple of wineries that we had not yet tasted at.

We took Rancho California to the furthest winery, Chapin Family vineyards. After a tasting here and learning quite a bit about the Chapin’s, their vineyards and the valley history from Leroy, we headed out to see if Lumiere was open.  They are only open Friday through Sunday and we were lucky enough to be their first tasting of the day.  This small family owned winery was an early vineyard in the valley and Martha was a wealth of information knowing first hand many of the people who set this valley on it’s winemaking path.  To round out our day we headed next door to taste at the beautiful Longshadow Ranch.  This property is really stunning and they have Clydesdales and Belgian draft horses that they actually use to plow the vineyards.  This is a working farm so the barnyard smell is not always coming from the glass!

We ended the weekend on a budget note and had lunch in Temecula at Panera to fill our stomachs for the long drive home.  The area is filled with all the modern conveniences, malls, chain restaurants etc…but we had never seen this part of it.  Wine country and Old Town are devoid of the chains and are charming with the small businesses they hold.  But…if you need Panera’s it’s not as far as you would expect!  The best of both worlds I suppose.

That’s the overview…stay tuned for detailed blog posts with photos and movies on each of the places we visited!  I think we only have 9 wineries left to taste at!

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!

Robert Renzoni, Spring time in Temecula

Robert Renzoni sign

Winemaking in the Renzoni family dates to 1886, when Robert’s great grandfather Federico worked in the vineyards near Fano, a small Italian village on the shores of the Adriatic Sea. Federico and his father began making wine for family and friends. At 18, Federico immigrated to America and after two years working as a commercial Fisherman in Connecticut, he decided enter into the cordial business with his brother-in-law, Romeo Battistoni. Prohibition in 1918 forced them out of business.

Federico and Romeo began  a wine distributing business when Prohibition ended in 1933.   Robert’s grandfather Domenic joined them in 1934 and they began importing wines from Italy and France. It was at this time that the trio began doing business with a number of Italian immigrants who had settled in California, including August Sebastiani, Lorenzo Cella (Roma Wines) and Cesare Mondavi (Charles Krug).

Robert’s father Frederick assumed control of the family business, then known as Italian and French Wine Company, in 1972. The business prospered as a wholesale wine and liquor distributorship and eventually covered all of Upstate New York.
Robert formally entered the business in 1989, spending five years in various roles, the last of which was in the sales department. In 1994, the family decided to exit the rapidly consolidating wholesale business and the business was sold. In 1996, Robert opted to relocate to California, and worked in the wine and liquor industry in Los Angeles for several years.
After many years apart, parts of the family were once again reunited in Temecula, when Robert and his parents each moved here in 2004. Once here, the muse of winemaking again beckoned. They purchased a beautiful property on De Portola Road in Temecula, and supplemented the existing vineyards with additional plantings in 2006.

The Robert Renzoni Vineyard & Winery of today is a tribute to Federico, Romeo, and Domenic.

WOW – this is a great weekend to visit Temecula

Wine Barrel Art picture

This weekend is WOW (World of Wine) Winter Barrel Tasting in Temecula.  On Saturday March 2nd and Sunday March 3rd, 35 wineries will host this annual event.  With a map and a ticket you can take your time and visit the wineries at your own pace.

Many of the wineries will be offering tastings from barrels and tanks!  Wines are paired with foods…Wiens will have their 2011 Solace paired with Crostini with avocado and shrimp salad, topped with Marie Louise sauce and their 2011 Obscura will be tasted from the barrel and paired with Beef sirloin tip braised in red wine served with braised carrots and onions over buttered noodles.  (They are running with a French theme this year!).  Callaway is excited about their entry into the Cork Art contest!  While you are there you can vote for your favorite cork art entry!  Lorimar will have Shultz and Hamilton playing this Friday from 5-8.

Tickets are $99 for Saturday and Sunday, $79 for Sunday only and $69 for designated drivers.