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The upscale Tasting Room at Wiens Family Cellars in the Temecula Valley of Southern California. Photo by Frank Mangio
The upscale Tasting Room at Wiens Family Cellars in the Temecula Valley of Southern California. Photo by Frank Mangio
Taste of Wine

Romancing the wines of SoCal — WoW!


On March 7 and March 8, the bloom is on the vines of Temecula when more than 30 wineries, together, open their barrels for introductory tastes and bites, for guests with self-guided passports, at the World of Wine event (WoW).

I’m up there every chance I get.

The Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association really knows how to put on a special show (but more about this later).

First I want to clue you in on the fact that whenever the urge presents itself, you can make a special day of it any time in the wineries of Temecula.

One recent Saturday, some close wine-loving friends of mine treated me to a day in the vines, the tasting rooms and the palatial wine and dine hideaways of exclusive wine club member suites.  The day’s locations were kept a secret.  “Franco, (most of my close friends call me Franco), be ready outside your front door at 9:30 a.m. when we pick you up and strap you in the back seat, no questions asked,” they commanded. If this was a kidnapping, it should happen to me more often. The day was divided into three segments:  a tour and tasting through the vines, a picnic and wine tasting on a newly finished patio of a tasting room and a sit down banquet wine tasting in a palatial, exclusive wine club setting. This was as good as it gets, anywhere!

World of Wine, the event March 7 and March 8, will give you the look and feel of the trip with my close friends.  A majority of wines tasted at the wineries you select at your own pace, will be old world varietals. These are European-style grapes with a Temecula-style new world twist. It’s a barrel tasting with the latest vintages from each winery both days, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The wines from each location will be paired with finely crafted cuisine from experienced gourmet chefs. Be sure to view the newest winery still being built, Fazeli Winery, coming soon on the De Portola Trail.

Another singular feature of wine events in Temecula that you are sure to enjoy is the one-on-one conversations with the winemakers and owners of the wineries. Somehow the wines taste a little bit better when you get the story from the source.

Cost for both days, and a best buy, is $99 per person.  Other price offers are available.  Pre-sale tickets are on line at

Another wine and dine peak experience in Temecula Wine Country is a Valentine’s Day dinner at one of the 10 winery restaurants in the district.

Some restaurants to consider include:  Europa Village — “Romance, Romance” Feb. 13 at 6:30 p.m.  A special Valentine’s dinner with a comedy musical set in old world Vienna; five-course dinner, with each course paired with Europa Village wines.  Tickets are $89; VIP tickets available. See more at,

Monte De Oro — Valentine’s Dinner 2015 Feb. 14, each of the four courses paired with award winning wines.  Prix-fixe meal. Live music and dancing.  $145 per couple; special VIP tickets.  (951) 491-6551 ext. 115.

Pinnacle Restaurant Falkner Winery — A four-course

Valentine’s Dinner Feb. 14, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.  Wine pairings for each course of choice of filet mignon or Chilean sea bass.  $89. Enjoy the hilltop ambiance views.  Call for RSVP at (951) 676-8231 ext. 1.

Thornton Winery — Romantic Rendezvous Feb. 14, starts at 7 p.m. with a four-course dinner matched with Thornton wines.  Live music, long stem rose for the ladies.  $135. Thornton also has a Valentine’s dinner at their Café Champagne. A three-course dinner for $75 per person. Call (951) 699-0099.


 More Valentine Wine Bytes

TWENTY/20 in Carlsbad and its heated terrace with the pretty coastal view will be offering its special three-course prix-fixe menu Feb. 13, Feb. 14 and Feb. 15.  $55. Wine list pairings available.  Reserve at (760) 827-2500.

Il Fornaio, at the Del Mar Plaza and Coronado has its Umbria Festa Regionale menu Feb. 14.  Highlight is the Fondente ai Tre Cuori, a heart shaped flourless dark chocolate cake with berry gelee hearts.  RSVP in Del Mar at (858) 755-8876 and in Coronado, (619) 437-4911.

Chandler’s in Carlsbad has a Valentines Dinner Feb. 14 from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m.; three courses for $70.  Add $35 for wine pairings.  Entrée choices include:  Rack of lamb, beef tenderloin and lobster or duck leg confit.  RSVP at (760) 683-5500.

For the get out of town type, RENAISSANCE, the Marriott Lodge at Sonoma Resort & Spa is celebrating with a “Discover Your Senses,” a three-day Valentine package with a wine dinner Feb. 14.  Get the full story by calling (800) 321-1508.


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 columns at  Reach him at [email protected] and follow him on Facebook.