Steve & John Thornton

In my last post I reflected on the incredible events that have happened in the few months since we launched WINEormous. I had intended that to be an all-encompassing story, but what has happened to us in the Temecula Valley alone deserves its own focus. WINEormous began as a concept. It would be a blog with stories focusing on wineries and the people who make them run – owners, winemakers, pourers, folks on the bottling line, all of them. We are blessed that there is so much material in our own backyard. At last count there were more than thirty wineries in the valley with more on the way. I’ve written about seventeen of them, so I have my work cut out for me.

When you’re new, you start with a blank canvas. Getting your foot in the door can be a daunting proposition. Linda Kissam was instrumental in opening many, many doors for us. She now serves as executive director of the Fallbrook Area Visitor’s Bureau and is the former executive director of the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association. When I first approached her about lining up interviews with some of her clients, she delivered in a big way. I thank Linda for setting up stories about Thornton, Orfila, Keyways, Oak Mountain, Temecula Hills, Villa di Calabro, Briar Rose, Ponte, Tesoro and Fallbrook Wineries for me. I have her to thank for putting me in touch with Vine Times magazine, a publication for which I now contribute. She arranged for me to attend a luncheon with members of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association of which I am now a member. I’ll be joining Linda this coming Saturday for the IFWTWA cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. She also introduced me to Ginger Giordano of Going Grape. 2010 will be the year WINEormous launches its winery tours and Ginger has been instrumental in helping me through the permit process. She was also a huge help to me in setting up my photography exhibit in December at Tesoro Winery.

In doing these stories, I’ve been blessed to meet and develop friendships with many of the area winery owners and winemakers. Don Reha, winemaker at Thornton and Orfila, has become a good friend. His generosity of time and wine has been humbling. John and Steve Thornton of Thornton Winery have made us feel very much at home. We’ve shared meals with them and have been the recipients of their generosity by being their guests at one of their Champagne Jazz Concerts.  Ira Gourvitz of Fallbrook Winery has also become a good friend, and he and wife Pepper have had us to their home as dinner guests. I’ve shared coffee on the patio with Marcelo & Damian Doffo of Doffo Winery and they always welcome us with open arms. Bill Wilson at Wilson Creek has also been great, and has made sure my friends get treated like royalty when they visit. Nick and Cindy Palumbo were a joy to be around from before we got this project off the ground and spending more time with them has been a bonus. Rick and Jennifer Buffington of Cougar Winery have been delightful and we love Jamie Schmutzer; a top contender for best pourer at any winery I’ve been to. Dorian and Les Linkogle at Briar Rose also have been wonderful hosts and make us feel right at home whenever we visit.

Lopez Island Vineyards - San Juan Islands, WA

2009 was simply fantastic. We visited wineries in five states – California, Washington, Texas, Virginia and Maryland. We’re excited about 2010. We’re anticipate getting permitted to operate winery tours later this month. We plan to open an online store offering wine accessories and handmade wine art. As always, we are open to suggestions. My thanks go out again to attorney Mike Newcombe who told me I needed to become more objective in my writing and to stop being such a Pollyanna. It was good advice and I’ve taken it to heart. Look for more contributions from Laura in her Women on Wine column. She’s a tremendous writer and I look forward to her contributions. Thanks for joining us for the ride. We think it’s just going to get better.

Chisholm Trail Winery - Fredericksburg, TX

Ira Gourvitz - Fallbrook Winery

Marcelo & Damian Doffo

Rappahannock Cellars, Huntly, VA

Don Reha

Dorian Linkogle

Les Linkogle

Little Ashby Vineyards - Easton, MD

Rick & Jennifer Buffington - Cougar Vineyards

Steve & Steffanie Anglim

Nick Palumbo

Cindy Palumbo

Bill Wilson