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Temecula Valley wine region invites your palate

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It’s the future of wine in California

By Mike Shess

The Temecula Valley wine region now deserves your attention. Wrongfully written off as mediocre during its evolving years, Temecula currently boasts more than 30 quality vineyards that reach every palate.
Situated an hour up the I-15 from San Diego, the topography, geography and climate of the valley afford the ability to grow increasingly popular grapes, such as the Malbec, exceedingly well. Each vineyard in Temecula Wine Country oozes distinct charm and class, with a booming wine and wedding circuit to prove it.
On my recent trip to Temecula, I discovered the future of wine in California. Here are a handful of vineyards that I particularly like:

Doffo
Founded by a small Argentinean family, El Viñedo Doffo boasts warm South American-style hospitality via a gaucho-style courtyard, complete with grill, located between the tasting room and family home for entertaining.
The property is tastefully littered with proprietor Marcelo Doffo’s vintage motorcycle collection, which sits upon a 15-acre picturesque vineyard. There, the vines are audibly wooed by music, as a stereo system is lined through the vineyard to play quiet classical music so that the grapes never lack stimulation during their life. Quirky, but it works.
The wine is fantastic, with the Argentinean-in-California Malbec complementing grilled red meat flawlessly. If you’re going to visit one vineyard in the entire valley, be sure to visit Doffo. More information can be found on the Website: doffowines.com.

Briar Rose
Comfortably disconnected from reality, Briar Rose strives to offer a distinct vineyard experience. Emphasizing a dialogue between vintner and wine lover, the land where the vineyard currently stands was owned by Beldon Fields. Fields worked on creating Fantastyland and Toon Town sections of Disneyland.
When Les and Dorian Linkogle purchased the property, an implicit agreement was made between Fields and the Linkogles to not change the replica of Snow White’s cottage that now houses the Briar Rose tasting room.
By reservation only, this award-winning vineyard is the ultimate in intimate wine tasting in the Temecula Valley. You can make a reservation online at  briarrosewinery.com.

Mount Palomar Winery
Easily the most ambitious in the valley expansion-wise, the Mount Palomar Winery is building a veritable empire of wine. According to the vineyard, “Current development plans include extensive new vineyard plantings; a larger wine production facility; a new guest facility including restaurants and a world-class, wine country resort and spa; and estate homes.”
All of this is slated for rapid construction (two years). The winery is owned by Louidar LLC, which specializes in development projects. This means the impressive blueprints have a good shot at materializing on time. Aside from providing immaculate wedding space elevated to showcase the photogenic Palomar Mountain and Temecula Valley, their wine is excellent and production is expanding. For now, you can order their wines online at mountpalomar.com.

Stuart Cellars
The vineyard is family-run by the Stuarts. In 1994, they transformed a house farm into a gorgeous and environmentally savvy vineyard. According to Marshall Stuart, patriarch of the five-strong Stuart family and co-founder alongside wife Susan, Stuart’s choice of the labor-intensive rototilling method of soil management means that there’s no herbicides in use.

According to Marshall, “our main goal is to make the best meritage wines in the Temecula Wine reigon.” Indeed, their Long Valley Red took home the 2008 Best Red of Temecula awarded by the Vintners Association. They currently distribute to The Barrel Room in Rancho Bernardo and a few other places in San Diego. To order wine online or learn more, consult the Website at stuartcellars.com.

These are my favorites in the Temecula Wine Country. The Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association maintains a wonderful Website packed with information of all vineyards in the valley. For further reading, visit temeculawines.org.

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