Diane and Ken Wilson own the Wilson Artisan Wineries as well as the Grape Leaf Inn. There are eight wineries all totaled and I visited three of them, starting with Matrix Winery. Formerly Rabbit Ridge Winery, the Wilsons purchased the property in 2007.
Verging on sensory overload I approached the final wine, a 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel. Now back in the day a good California Zin was one of my go-to favorites. I eagerly breathed in the familiar aromas of rich raspberry with a hint of cinnamon and cloves. I could picture the gnarley, twisted old vines with their earthiness and pungent leathery smells.
This latest release is predominantly Syrah based with Grenache, Sangiovese and Barbera blended in. The winemaker calls it Rhône meet Italy. It's a "buy today, drink tonight" wine, with notes of chocolate, it's an easy drinker.
Charlie opened Curry Vineyards' tasting room in the lobby of the Palomar Inn Hotel in Old Town Temecula at the beginning of the year. Prior to that he had been selling to a few restaurants and wine shops. Wife Michelle takes care of the kids and horses, but is there to lend a hand when she's needed.
There's one trait I have noticed that is shared by every good winemaker I have met - passion. Les exudes it. He is proud of his wines and describes them not only in glowing terms, but explained what goes into making each one in a way that could be easily understood by both novices and wine connoisseurs alike.