“I’ve got a song in my heart, and I want our visitors to have a song in their hearts when they spend time here.” Temecula’s newest winery, Lorimar, has a music note on several of its bottles. When I asked co-owner Mark Manfield why, that was the answer I received. Mark grew up in the bar and restaurant business, working in his dad’s restaurant in Kansas City, MO since he was nine years old. When he left college he took over the bar and remained in charge until they lost the family business they had owned since 1948 to eminent domain. Mark moved to California and got into real estate and became fairly successful, but he knew something was missing. His passion lay in the bar and restaurant business.
Mark’s partner is Lawrie Lipton. Lawrie’s sister Karen is Mark’s wife. Lawrie wasn’t sure Mark was the right man for his sister at first, but grew to like him and they soon became business partners. When Mark came to Temecula and found Providence Winery on the market, he fell in love with it. Providence was established by Jim Boner in 1999 and had 10 acres of Cabernet and Syrah grapes planted. Mark liked the fact that the vineyards were established and that there was already inventory and equipment. Its proximity to nearby orchards made him fall in love with the property. He called Lawrie, knowing he needed someone he could count on and trust for a project this big. Lawrie saw the promise and together they went about getting a plot plan approved by the county, a daunting task in itself, and then set out to produce some wine.
Mark did some research and enlisted Etienne Cowper, Dr. Enrique Ferro and Mike Tingley to help them get their first selection of wines ready. Etienne is the winemaker for Wilson Creek and Tesoro Wineries, Dr. Ferro is an enologist with more than forty years experience and Mike is the winemaker for Keyways and Gerson Bachus. The resulting first wine list is an impressive one, featuring twelve wines. The Sparkling Viognier is yet to be released, but is coming soon. I started by tasting their ’08 Chardonnay. It’s a dry Chard with a floral nose and notes of green apple and citrus. The ‘09 Duetto Chenin Blanc/Viognier blend is sensational, very crisp with lots of grapefruit on the palate. The ’05 Fusion Petite Syrah/Zinfandel blend has a wonderful nose with a lingering finish and lots of dark cherry. The Dolce Vita vintage dessert made with Zinfandel grapes blew me away. This one is a show stopper. Other wines available are the ’09 Gewürztraminer, the ’09 Muscat Canelli (a great example of the varietal), ’09 White Merlot, ’08 Sangiovese, ’05 Medley Meritage, ’08 Solo Cabernet Sauvignon and the ’05 Duet Cabernet/Mourvedre blend. I’ll be returning soon to taste the ones I missed first time around.
Mark was amazed by the reception they have received from the other area wineries. “They have been totally, incredibly helpful.” I’ve noticed a camaraderie in the valley since I’ve been writing here. Other wineries let them use their equipment while they were getting up and running and Mark cited “Billy” Wilson’s generosity in letting him “borrow” Dr. Ferro. The goal was to create wines that were ready to drink straight out of the gate and from what I have tasted they have succeeded. They used grapes and juice from other wineries to get started, but will be using their estate grapes in future releases. There are more wines in the pipeline and Mark looks forward to expanding the selection.
Mark has no desire to have Temecula’s biggest winery. His focus is to have a lovely, quaint spot when friends can gather and enjoy good wine and good times. The wine club will offer lots of events, from cooking classes to get togethers. He envisions it as more of a family than a wine club. The tasting room is now open Thursday through Monday, but Mark looks forward to bringing in chefs on off days to pair food with wine. Lorimar’s Old Town location is adjacent to the Old Town Temecula Community Theater and he says they’ll definitely be open for theater goers.
The plot plan has been approved and work is underway on the 5,000 square foot visitor’s center and tasting room at the old Providence Winery site off Rancho California Road. “Music and wine are very similar. They’re both associated with good times. Both are created to be enjoyed, and are never exactly the same.” Mark Manfield has a song in his heart and hopes you will, too when you visit Lorimar.
Lorimar Winery is in Old Town Temecula at 42031 Main St. You can reach them by phone at (951) 240-5177.