We sat on the patio at Shorty’s Bistro and visited while we ate, sharing one of the tastiest crab cakes I have ever eaten. He took the position six months ago, filling the void left when Craig Boyd moved to South Dakota to become the winemaker at Prairie Berry. After 9/11, the wine industry took a hit and James left the industry and then started a new business. When his partner decided to retire, he decided it was time to re-enter the wine world. He pointed out the perils of winemaking, noting that he’s “always waiting for the other shoe to drop. You can plan until the cows come home”, but you get what you get.
When Louis Darwish purchased the property his interest had been citrus and avocados, but in time he developed an appreciation for wine. Louis’ daughter Carol is the general manager and she is learning all she can about the craft of winemaking. Plans have been laid for a major expansion and have already been approved. They include a much larger winery and tasting room, an immense retail space, a chapel and 42 casitas. Groundbreaking is slated for early 2014. They will also be planting out the property with many more vines. He has a test planting of Mourvèdre, a grape he notes is difficult to grow. Mt. Palomar offers 25 wines currently. Rutherford plans on paring that number down a bit. He believes wines should be varietally true and as a fan of Rhône varietals, look for a larger focus there. There are 27 varieties planted on the estate, seven of them different Sangiovese clones, with that grape becoming a refocus for them. Mt. Palomar introduced the Sangiovese grape to Temecula.The Castelletto brand will carry on, and there will be more of a focus on Italian varietals. He will continue to produce Shorty’s White and Shorty’s Red and will strive for a consistency in style.
I ordered a Caesar salad with grilled steak, ideal for a hot summer day, which I enjoyed while we continued to visit and drink Kyanti. His love of wine started early in life. He began his wine collection at eight or nine years old. James attended Cal Poly, before they had an official wine program. He studied fruit science with an emphasis on viticulture. He interned at Meridian Winery in Paso Robles and then joined the Peace Corps before relocating to Santa Barbara County. He had been making wine on his own and realized it was something he could do. He grew up around the wine business and his family always had an appreciation for wine. The central coast, he says, was instrumental in his decision to become a winemaker. He looks forward to a long and happy career in Temecula. I’m optimistic he will see his wish granted.
33820 Rancho California Rd. Temecula, CA 92591 Toll Free: 800-854-5177