When they decided to locate the winery on De Portola Road, more than a few eyebrows were raised. There were only two other wineries on the road at the time: Keyways and Filsinger. Keyways was open only occasionally; Filsinger was open on weekends only. Several owners of wineries on Rancho California Road told them they were making a big mistake. They honestly wondered if they were making a mistake themselves. It was a remote area with little to no traffic.
As far as their wine is concerned, they feel blessed to have great soil, tremendous fruit and a top notch winemaker in Tim Kramer. Gary told me they started out simply by planting Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. He feels it’s an ideal spot for Rhône varietals: coastal breezes cool the vines in the evening and the soil isn’t rocky. They grow Roussanne, Viognier, Marsanne, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Zinfandel and Cinsault. Mike says they seem to have acclimated themselves perfectly. He is striving to enhance Temecula’s reputation because he feels it doesn’t have the reputation it deserves. He adds they will continue to plant the best clones on the finest rootstock and do the best job they can.
They met Tim Kramer via Gary’s daughter Jessica who was working at Callaway Winery. She told her dad he would be a great winemaker, noting he was motivated, ambitious, hard-working and wanted to get involved. Gary says “It turned out to be a good move.” Mike adds “What struck the two of us was his passion. Without passion, you’re mediocre at best.” Tim reads everything about wine he can get his hands on. The only thing that might rival his passion for wine is his love of the Anaheim Angels.
Leonesse Cellars is open daily from 11 – 5 at 38311 De Portola Road in Temecula. You can phone them at (951) 302-7601 and follow them on Facebook and twitter.