“You’re coming to our house to taste our wines.” Masia is Spanish for “country house”. When you visit Masia de Yabar Winery, Wilmer Yabar wants you to feel as if you’re a guest in his home. A native of Peru, Wilmer remembers buying wine for his father as a young boy and says that is his earliest memory of wine. His brother married an Argentinean woman and said to him “let’s buy land in Argentina”. They bought some property in 2004 in San Juan, Argentina’s second largest wine region and planted Malbec and Torrontes. Wilmer is a practicing dentist in Riverside County and wanted to open a winery, but Argentina was too far away. Paso Robles was closer, but the Temecula Valley proved to be the perfect fit for him.

He considers his wife Sylvia to be his right hand, and she was on board with the project from the start. They purchased property just off De Portola Road and opened Masia de Yabar Winery in November of 2008. With the help of winemakers Benny Rodriguez and Steve Andrews, they offered Cabernet Sauvgnon, Tempranillo, Garnacha (Grenache), Monastrell (Mourvedre), Syrah, Zinfandel and Viognier from the Temecula and South Coast appellations and Malbec from Argentina. Weekend visitors are treated to live music and tapas are available for purchase. “We like food, we like music, we like to dance. That’s what we’re trying to do here.”

Wilmer is introducing a new line of wines from his property in Argentina called “Viñas de Yabar”. He has an agreement with a Bodega (winery) to make his wines in exchange for keeping some for themselves. It’s the perfect arrangement for him: he has no overhead and no worries.  He’s introducing a 2010 Torrontes, Malbec and Malbec Rosé as well as 2009 Malbec and Malbec Oak. I tasted them all during our visit and the Malbec Rosé will blow you away. He will soon be introducing a Sherry made from the Rose of Peru grape.

Although he still practices dentistry, wine is in Wilmer’s blood. He studied viticulture at UC Davis and wine-making at Mt. San Jacinto College and San Diego State. “Wine gets into your soul little by little and becomes a passion.” His vision includes making Crianza style wines that will age at least on year in oak and another year in bottle. He notes Temecula has Italian,  Rhône, Bordeaux and Argentinean wines and he wants to introduce Spanish wines to the region.

Wilmer Yabar

In Old Town Temecula, Wilmer is partners with Waleed Jouzy and fellow dentist Carlos Rivas at Viva Vino!, formerly Masia de Yabar Urban Winery. Keeping the Latin theme, Viva Vino! not only offers wines from Masia de Yabar and  Viñas de Yabar, but also offerings from Argentina, Chile, Peru and Spain. You can also partake in salsa dancing, enjoy tapas and live music. As we were parting, Wilmer made a point of thanking his team: Diana, Debbie, Alana, Julianne and Gustavo and says they make his job that much easier. In my eyes, Wilmer Yabar has succeeded in his effort to provide the ambience and romance of the Latin culture to Temecula Wine Country.

Masia de Yabar Winery – 39788 Camino Arroyo Seco, Temecula, CA – (951) 303-3860

Viva Vino! – 41955 5th Street, Temecula, CA – (951) 506-5953