A celebratory year for South Coast and its wineries

Jon McPherson, South Coast Winery Resort and Spa’s savvy master winemaker in Temecula Wine Country, recently sat at our booth to join us for lunch at their posh Vineyard Rose Restaurant. For a few minutes, he relaxed over a few examples of South Coast’s new releases. Jon came over from Thornton Winery five years ago where he gained a solid reputation as a meticulous craftsman of sparkling wine. Prior to coming to the Temecula Valley, he cut his teeth in the wine industry in Texas. At Thornton, he earned the title “America’s Most Honored Sparkling Wine Producer.”
Last year, the winery was judged the best in the state at the California State Fair and received the Golden Bear trophy  for winning 39 awards including: 1 Best of State, 1 Best of Region, 12 Best of Class, 1 Double Gold and 5 Golds among others. In all, 255 awards were won in 2008 by this premier winery. At the end of the year, my “Taste of Wine” declared South Coast’s Wild Horse Peak 2005 Sangiovese, one of its Top Ten Tastings. I asked Jon how he has been able to extract excellence out of his varietals. “It’s about letting the grapes speak, he said. “We listen, then carefully nurture the process.”
He then went on to describe my Top Ten Tasting winner: the 2005 Sangiovese.
 “The ’05 Sangiovese was planted near Palomar Mountain in the Wild Horse Peak Mountain Vineyard, Thunderbolt Block. The fruit’s unusual depth of character and style is further accentuated by its exclusive aging in French oak barrels. The oak marries with the Sangiovese and adds a beautiful texture and complexity to its licorice and cherry notes. Supple tannins and racy acidity make it a standout 100 percent Sangiovese wine. It will age gracefully for the next three to five years.”
Last year the ’05 Sangiovese, in addition to my Top Ten accolade, scored a Best of Class, a gold and four silvers.
South Coast Winery Resort and Spa sits on 38 acres and is a destination property.
Now is a great time to visit. It has a special “Recline in ‘09” promotion for its 76 villas that sit in the vineyard. Sunday through Thursday, a nightly stay is just $149 and it includes a complimentary bottle of wine and many more credit perks. Call (866) 994-6379 for reservations through Jan. 31. You may also access www.wineresort.com for information on all its wines and amenities.
This and that
Congrats to Dawn Galante of Galante Wines in Carmel Valley near Monterey on her 38th birthday which was Jan. 18. To celebrate, her Blackjack 2004 Cab is on sale for $38 a bottle (regularly $50.) Limit is six and good through Jan. 31. See www.galantevineyards.com.
I was with the master sommelier Jesse Rodriguez at Addison at the Grand Resort Del Mar and we talked about the Anderson Valley in Northern California and their premier Pinot Noir. He recommended Golden Eye and its 2006 vintage. Come to find out it’s one of only two wines served at the President Obama Inaugural Luncheon. You will love the plum, spice, cherry and strawberry notes. It was served with pheasant and duck. The other wine was a Duckhorn 2007 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc served with a seafood stew of Maine lobster, scallops and shrimp.
Wine Bytes
San Diego State’s Business of Wine course opens its Spring Semester with “Exploring Wine” from 6 to 9 p.m. starting Mon. Feb. 2 on campus. For fees and registration, call (619) 594-6924.
Holiday Wine Cellar of Escondido has “Wine Down Mondays” starting Feb. 2 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. for just $5. Enjoy Robert Nenow from his winery in Napa. He’s pouring Cab and his new Syrah/Cab blend. More info is available at (760) 745-1200.
Jack’s La Jolla has a Blind Wine Tasting in the Ocean Room from 3 to 7 p.m. Feb. 3 for $25 each. Is it a Cab or a Zin? Test your skills. Details are available by calling (858) 456-8111.
Restaurant Acqua Al 2 in the Gaslamp downtown San Diego launches “AA2 Uncorked,” a new wine tasting series to share the passion of fine Italian wines. The first class is from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Feb. 4 with the theme of Amore, a Toast to Love. Learn about and try fine Italian wines and authentic Italian appetizers for participants. Cost is $15 per person. Call (619) 230-0382 to RSVP.
Pechanga Casino in Temecula inaugurates its first annual Wine Festival from noon to 5 p.m. Feb. 7 to benefit the Red Cross. In addition to wine tastings with ZD, Miner, Chateau St. Michelle, Erath, Ferrari Carano, Mondavi, Falkner, Keyways, La Cereza, Pedroncelli and more, Pechanga has its great chefs prepare samples of their cuisine.  Tickets are $65 each. A 6 to 9 p.m. bonus of more wineries with a Chocolate Decadence event costs $100 for the two events. For tickets, call (877) 711- 2WIN or call www.pechanga.com.

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