Photos by Todd Montgomery and Tom Plant
If there is a “King of Wine” in the Temecula Valley Wine country it is Tom Plant and he proved it over this past weekend. Like hundreds of wine lovers, Tom participated in the popular World of Wine weekend, March 2-3, (affectionately known as W.O.W.) sponsored by the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association. Thirty-five wineries opened their doors for special wine and barrel tastings paired with delicious dishes. Limos and buses and individuals roamed throughout the wine country, tasting and learning about the many wonderful wine tasting experiences Temecula Valley has to offer.
But Tom Plant may have been the only person to actually visit each of the 35 wineries participating. (Let us know if you have heard of others.) As his marked wine ticket illustrates in the accompanying photo, Tom made it to these wineries during two days of tasting. He visited 20 wineries on Saturday and 15 on Sunday. His wife, Laura (also in photo), accompanied him on some of these visits and everywhere he went he ran into happy wine country friends and also many visitors from Riverside, San Diego and Orange counties who were learning about the beauty and excellent wines available just a short trip away from their homes.
So what motivated Tom to attempt this impressive goal of visiting 35 wineries in two days? He says, “It has been a mission of mine for the past three years to make it to every participating winery. I really like to keep my finger on the pulse of the wine country and this is a good chance for me to visit some of the wineries I don’t get to as often as I would like.”
Tom’s career path toward his current wine-focused activities is varied and interesting. He has worn many hats in his career, actually starting out as a disc jockey in Chico, California. From there, he held radio jobs in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, and in Santa Rosa, California. In the late 90s, he moved to San Francisco where he did radio news, sports and traffic reporting, and voiceovers for radio and TV commercials, including an appearance with Cheech Marin on the TV series, “Nash Bridges.” He moved to Mexico in 2000 and started selling real estate. In 2002, he moved to Canyon Lake where he continued to pursue real estate.
But throughout his wide-ranging career, one love was consistent for Tom and that was wine! He eventually moved to Murrieta and launched his popular website, Wineormous, and started conducting wine tours in the Temecula Valley Wine Country. Today his wine tours are among the most popular in the valley. He is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association and the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association. He is frequently asked to speak at conferences on wine, website, and travel-related topics and will be speaking next week at the International Wine Tourism Conference in Zagreb, Croastia.
Tom feeels that the World of Wine Weekend was a tremendous success. (This reporter felt that way too, although we only made it to about 15 wineries.) Tom emphasizes, “So many wineries put their heart and soul into ‘strutting their stuff.’ It was nice to see so many of the winemakers and winery owners greeting their guests. A few, I felt, ‘phoned it in’ and that saddened me, but overall it was an exceptional event.”
As far as his favorite wineries during the weekend, that is a hard one for Tom or any W.O.W. participant to address. Tom says while most of the wineries did a fabulous job with food and wine presentation, he particularly enjoyed the wine and food offerings at Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery, Hart Winery, Wiens Family Cellars, Lumiere Winery, Doffo Winery, South Coast Winery, Vindemia Winery, and Europa Village. I agree and we also especially enjoyed Danza del Sol Winery, Lorimar Vineyards & Winery, Masia de Yabar Vineyard & Winery, Bel Vino Winey, Thornton Winery, and Chapin Family Vineyards.
The Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association also sponsored a clever cork artistic contest, which encouraged each winery to create a work of art out of cork. Among many great entries, there was a whimsical cork rat at Wiens, a beautiful grape creation at Lumiere, a cork heart at Lorimar, a beautiful Eifel tower at Europa, and a creative tasting room replication at Hart.
The wineries participating were both small and large. For instance, while hundreds of visitors enjoyed a charming Paris theme at Wiens Family Cellars and tasted delicious Boeuf Braisse paired with a luscious 2011 Obscura barrel sampling, smaller groups visited tiny Footpath Winery and enjoyed their homemade chili and rustic, rural setting along with their lovely 2008 Merlot. Visitors to the Temecula Valley Wine Country during the W.O.W. weekend discovered they can find whatever they want in wineries—including the beautiful resorts attached to tasting rooms such as South Coast Winery Resort and Spa, the Ponte Vineyard Inn, or the Europa Village Inn or they can enjoy personal tastings at small family-owned wineries with outstanding wines such as Palumbo, Doffo, Chapin or Hart.
So what is our wine-tasting hero, Tom Plant, doing after a weekend of tasting at 35 wineries doing? No doubt he’s tasting more wines. Thanks to Tom for his fantastic support of W.O.W. and of the Temecula Valley Wine Country.