The Coast News Group
Taste of Wine

Fallbrook: A wine country for the future

On my visits to Temecula’s wine country I have been making the beautiful drive north on the Interstate15 in San Diego County for some nine years now, passing though what is known as Fallbrook.

I have also driven though most of the Northern California and Italian wine countries, stopping to visit and soak in the natural wonders of the hillsides, the aroma of farming and the fresh scent of a nearby ocean.

The only difference is that on the I-15, there are hundreds of avocado trees on the hillsides.  My vision of this area, some day in my lifetime, sees grapevines.

The pioneer and model for what I believe is coming, is Fallbrook Winery.  Started as a vineyard in 1981, it moved into mainstream high quality red and white varietals. There are 36 terraced acres about 1,000 feet above sea level.

Only two other wineries were listed as being in Fallbrook, both tiny, until recently.

Ronei and Lisa Iacobelli divide their time between Michigan and Southern California, pursuing health care careers in Michigan and their passion for wine in Fallbrook.  Ronie is the son of Italian immigrants where wine was a part of life, and he crushed many a grape inMichigan. Fast forward to Temecula where, in 1998, the couple bought a vineyard along the Deportola Trail. In 2013 they got an opportunity in the hills of Fallbrook for a 15-acre estate to grow grapes, make wine and live in a beautiful home on the property.  “We knew at first sight this was the best location for the highest quality growing conditions,” he said.

They have just had a grand opening for their Estate d’ Iacobelli tasting room.  The views from this hillside site just over the Pala Mesa Golf Resort are stunning.  The guest residence has two bedrooms and a “great room” with spruce ceilings, an enormous fireplace and opens to a private courtyard and swimming pool. A casita guesthouse also has two bedrooms, a cozy living area with a full kitchen.  Walking trails allow guests to hike though the vineyards. For rates, contact the winery.

A walk though the newest wine releases offered by Estate d’ Iacobelli revealed 6 choices, including a lone white wine, Viognier, which could be purchased two ways:  the 2011 vintage ($32), and a “Sticky Fingers” 2010 late harvest silky sweet version for desserts ($26).

The lineup of estate reds mostly centered on Sangiovese, that quintessential native grape from Tuscany.  Iacobelli has a 2010 vintage of 100 percent Sangiovese ($36), and a 2009 and 2010 “Rodolfo Red” blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet and mostly Mourvedre, a Rhone Valley French style red ($30 and $28).

One trip to Estate d’ Iacobelli and you will sense the future of wine in Fallbrook.

Public hours are Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Monday through Wednesday by appointment.  Call (760) 723-0616 or visit

I’m Just Wild About Harry’s

Stefano Poggi is as good a presenter of Italian wines as it gets.  Veteran restaurateur and new owner of Harry’s Bar & American Grill, Garo Minassian chose Poggi, who is the import director of Batasiolo wines of Piemonte, Italy, to orchestrate his first wine dinner on La Jolla Village Drive, just north of San Diego.

He also wanted to showcase his Executive Chef Alejandro Vicens and his creations.

Both presentations were triumphs.  Chef’s Rack of Lamb and Roasted Venison wowed the assembled, and Poggi’s Barolo cru Corda della Briccolina 2007 matched up to perfection.  The local Harry’s is a close relative of the world famous bar in Venice, Italy and radiates Bon Appetito!  Visit at

 Wine Bytes

Wiens Family Cellars in Temecula has its Summerfest Backyard BBQ July 18; entertainment at 7 p.m., and doors open at 6 p.m.  Try wines or brews, both from Wiens.  Price is $35 for a full menu plus.  Phone (888) 98-WIENS

Cohn Restaurant Group and Vintana Restaurant in Escondido has the leading Mexican-American vintners of Napa Valley in a “walk-about” wine tasting from 6 to 8 p.m. July 19.  Eight leading winemakers will be accompanied by seasoned Vintana sommelier Maurice DiMarino.  Tickets are $25. Call (760) 745-7777 or

Frank Family Vineyards of Napa Valley will lead a special wine dinner at West Steak and Seafood in Carlsbad July 22 at 6:30 p.m.  Chef Eugenio Martignago has created an exciting six-course menu to pair with these fabled wines.  Cost is $130. Call (760) 930-9100 for an RSVP.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web.  View and link up with his column at  Reach him at [email protected].