The Coast News Group
Taste of Wine

Callaway Winery harvesting gold

Last year, I attended the 40th anniversary celebration of Callaway Winery in Temecula Wine Country. There was a mood of progress in the barrel room as pioneers of this appellation toasted its success to date, and recalled the late businessman Ely Callaway and his contributions. Then, a relatively unknown winemaker who had just joined Callaway from the Northwest and as a sommelier at the Ritz Carlton in Dana Point took the podium. He declared a new day at Callaway. Craig Larson then revealed his passion for grape varietals from the Rhone Valley in France and other Mediterranean styles including Italian. “I was tasting these lovely wines when I was 16 years old traveling through Europe,” he later told me. “I’ve been a winemaker for 14 years now and I am more excited about Callaway and its new direction than I ever have been. This area has great potential for these wines.”
The most recent results from the Riverside International Wine Competition confirm Larson’s prediction. In it, the Callaway 2009 Sangiovese Rose won Sweepstakes Gold.  This drier style Rose from Italy’s most popular Tuscan grape, has a rich strawberry/cherry taste. It is served cold and can be a summer party favorite for $18 at the winery. The other wine worth a taste is the Gold Medal winner from the same competition: the 2009 Special Select Muscat Canelli, also $18. It’s far more tropical with hints of pineapple, melon, jasmine and cherry blossom. Forty-two judges from around the country were brought in to judge and all wines were judged “blind.”
Callaway has big plans for architectural improvements and is in the midst of a handsome landscaped courtyard overlooking the vineyards. The winery and Meritage Restaurant will continue to be open to the public. 
From 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. June 19, Callaway will host an Evening of Salute to America’s Heroes to help benefit emergency assistance to returning troops. Appetizers, sparkling wine and music will start it off, then a full dinner with Callaway Wines is planned. Cost is $85.50 each for club members, $95. for nonmembers. Call (951) 676-4001 for details, or visit at
New e-wine service pioneered at Delicias
Delicias Restaurant, in the middle of the Village in Rancho Santa Fe, recently introduced its Apple iPad E-Wine Selector, and its new 5,000-bottle wine cellar. 
Delicias is the first restaurant to use the iPad for a wine list, and with the completion of the wine cellar, it will have the widest selection of wines of any freestanding restaurant in Southern  California. Customers can browse electronically for their favorite wines at the touch of their fingertips. 
Owen Perry, the owner of Delicias, came up with this revolutionary idea in customer service. “We intend to also provide our guests information on Delicias Restaurant owner’s top wine picks, provide comments on menu specials from the chef, as well as reviews and ratings on the top wines,” he said. 
“Gino” Campbell was brought in for his unmatched wine expertise, with credits from New York and Las Vegas. 
At Delicias, lunch is served Monday through Friday, with dinner reservations taken Monday through Saturday.  Contact the restaurant at (858) 756-8000 or visit
Wine Bytes
— The San Diego Spirits Festival is June 2 through June 5 at the San Diego Hilton Bayfront. Seminars, trade shows and a Saturday Grand Tasting is in store. Call (858) 551-1605 or visit for more information.
— Café Merlot in the Bernardo Winery begins its First Friday Art Walk and Dinners Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. June 4. Call for reservations at (858) 592-7785 or visit
— The Encinitas Rotary Benefit seventh annual Wine Festival is at San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas from 5 to 8 p.m. June 5. Dishes and desserts from local restaurants are in abundance. Also a silent auction and live music. Tickets start at $100 with a portion to your selection of listed charities.  See or call (760) 436-3581 for more information.
— WineSellar and Brasserie in San Diego has a Saxon Brown Wine Dinner starting at 6:30 p.m. June 4. Known for top quality Zinfandel, Saxon Brown owner and winemaker Jeff Gaffner will present eight wines. Cost is $49.99 per person. RSVP at (858) 450-9557.