The evolution of Temecula Wine Country in unfolding right in front of our eyes. I visited two prime examples of this recently on a visit to Mount Palomar and Europa Village Wineries. Mount Palomar is one of the oldest wineries in Temecula, but they are hardly resting on their laurels. Many changes have taken place and more are on the way, not the least of which is the addition of Annata Bistro/Bar. I joined a group of fellow writers on a sunny fall afternoon as we sampled several items from the menu as well as a few signature cocktails.
Winemaker James Rutherford joined us and escorted us to the wine production area, where we sampled a few wines from tank and barrel that had not yet been bottled. Rutherford has done a grand job of carrying on the tradition of superior wines at Mount Palomar. We walked out to the Solera area, perhaps the only one of its kind in California. Wine ages in barrels kissed by the sun, becoming sweet and silky smooth over a period of many years. Mount Palomar’s Solera Sherry needs to be on your list of things to taste.
While savoring several of the excellent wines from Europa, Dean Thomas, Executive Chef and Innkeeper at the Inn at Europa Village shared his passion for food with us. The 10 room in is exquisite and I challenge you to find a better breakfast anywhere than the one presented by Chef Dean. Ben Drake has been managing Temecula vineyards for many decades, and he shared stories of the evolution of Temecula wine and the challenges he has faced, not the least of which was Pierces Disease which nearly decimated the valley’s vines less than 20 years ago. Driving past Europa Village today, you’ll find an army of bulldozers hard at work. The first part of the project is slated to open in 2018.
Tom Plant launched WINEormous in 2009 and is a member of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association. Based in Temecula, California, he offers intimate winery tours for no more than seven people. Tour details and pricing are available at www.temecula-tours.com. Call now to book your Temecula Winery Tour at (951) 907-9701. Ask about special discounts.