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.
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
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!