Taste the harvest in Temecula wine country

We are just days away from the 22nd annual Harvest Celebration in Temecula Wine Country, a two day event Nov. 3 and Nov. 4 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

Over 35 wineries will participate in the self guided tour, where visitors get to sample new and unfinished wines, dine on small bites of gourmet food pairings at the wineries and soak in the autumn sun of the vineyards.

A popular stop on the circuit will be Robert Renzoni Vineyards, typical of the many family owned and operated wineries in Temecula. They opened their doors in 2008 after planting on the property in 2006. The family’s history of winemaking dates back to 1886 in Italy. I had the pleasure of tasting their peak performance “Sonata Blend” 2009. ($38.) It flashes the best qualities of Cabernet and Brunello grape varietals, and was a medal winner at the Orange County Fair.

Recently, visitors have been “stomping “around a number of the wineries as harvest season always brings out the partygoers.

If you haven’t got caught up in one yet, it’s not too late. Mount Palomar Winery hosts one of the final Bacchus-style bashes on Oct. 27 and Oct. 28.

This one is an Oktoberfest theme with free admission and goes from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Register at mountpalomar.com.

It was a double celebration at South Coast Winery Resort and Spa a few weeks back, with their annual grape stomp and blessing of the wines, and the winning of some 175 wine awards in global competition this year. One of the latest trophy wines from winemakers Jon McPherson and Javier Flores is the 2009 Late Harvest Riesling. Tropical fruit flavors abound with a honeyed finish, excellent for dessert, or fish and salads. ($18.)

The latest architectural triumph of Temecula’s fast-growing wineries is Lorimar Winery. Mark Manfield, a former Kansas City restaurateur, completed his vision of a two story Italian Tuscan villa with a bell tower.

Another Lorimar success is former Stuart Cellars owner Marshall Stuart come on board as winemaker-partner. Stuart is a gentleman-farmer with a deeply engrained reputation for skilled winemaking.

He provided Lorimar and other wineries great old-world style wines. “My partnership here has turned into a great thing,” he declared. “We are focusing on a big lineup of wines to create a difference for Lorimar and its wine club members especially.

“We have more than 19 wines to choose from to please a lot of palates. My passion has always been to produce high-end, premium red wines and it continues here at Lorimar.” I asked Stuart about this year’s harvest and what he thought of the results. “This growing year produced great reds and over 50 percent more grapes than we had last year,” he revealed. There is a big quality difference over last year’s crop.”

The Temecula Harvest Celebration Nov. 3 and Nov. 4 is $99. for both days, with other price options. See the details at temeculawines.org, or call (800) 801-9463.

Wine Bytes

Bacchus Wine Market in downtown San Diego is presenting only Pinot Noirs Oct. 27 from 2 to 8:30 p.m. Cost is $20. Call (619) 236-0005.

A Moonlight Dinner is coming to Callaway Winery in Temecula Oct. 27 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., with winemaker Craig Larson and Meritage Executive Chef Michael Henry. A five-course meal is planned, paired with Callaway wines. $120 pp. RSVP at (951) 676-4001.

Holiday Wine Cellar in Escondido is pouring an all-Central California Coast wine event Oct. 29 starting at 5:30 p.m. $5. ea. Call (760) 745-1200.

Davanti Enoteca in the Del Mar Highlands Center is planning a seven-course Italian style Piemonte wine dinner Oct. 30 at 6:30 p.m. From Sparkling Gavi di Gavi to the red Barbaresco and Barolo, all are premium, classic wines. The menu promises to be an elegant feast, capped by the Bistecca al Rosmarino, a luscious Italian steak with mushrooms and polenta. RSVP at (858) 519-5060.

Bon Vin, a new concept wine shop in Downtown San Diego, brings in ZD Wines from Napa Valley Nov. 7 from 5 to 10 p.m. Cost is $20. Find out more at (619) 702-8377.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. His library can be viewed at www.tasteofwinetv.com. (Average Google certified 900 visits per day) He is one of the top five wine commentators on the Web. Reach him at mangiompc@aol.com.

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