Shortly after 2005 when I first picked up a blank sheet of paper and wrote Taste of Wine on it, I journeyed up to Temecula Wine Country from my base in San Diego County and did a story on Falkner Winery, operated by the dapper Ray Falkner and his lovely and talented wife, Loretta.
Falkner was founded in 2000 and after some years of fashioning high-quality Mediterranean-style wine, the excitement of the day was the Pinnacle Restaurant and the winery’s beautiful wedding venue on the grounds and in the restaurant, with its spectacular 1,500-foot elevation views.
“With chef Barradas’ arrival, we have strengthened our great Mediterranean-styled menu to add to our legendary Wine Country Burger and other big meals of the day at lunchtime,” Falkner remarked.
“We are a lunch-only restaurant serving main course meals seven days a week from 11:30 (a.m.) to 3:30 p.m. Chef Jason has introduced Seared Ahi and Cucumber, Spicy Catalan Shrimp Pasta and Beet Noodle Salad to the lineup.”
Falkner has also added a specific wine recommendation for each item. With my pick being the occasional special in the menu of a T-Bone steak with herb roasted fingerling potatoes and asparagus, I tasted the Falkner Super Tuscan Amante, a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cab Franc 2014 ($55). This wine has for the past seven years walked away with gold medals at the San Francisco competitions.
The year 2014 was the first full growing, harvest and barreling experience for winemaker Duncan Williams, who also created the blend for the Meritage, a 2014 Bordeaux style wine of Cab Sauvignon, Merlot and Cab Franc ($55).
Falkner was the 15th winery to arrive in Temecula in 2000, and now there are nearly 40 diversified wineries, attracting visitors from five counties, none more than an hour and a half away in the Southern California metro area. See more of Falkner at falknerwinery.com.
Wilson Creek moving up
You should know Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula. Their Almond Sparkling Wine has been pleasing palates for many years and financially helped introduce many brands of high-quality whites and reds, now available at the beautifully sophisticated Upper Room, a comfortable, dashing place to meet friends and fellow wine lovers.
Wilson Creek has a history of openness and friendly hospitality led by the Wilson family of Gerry and Rosie Wilson, and seemingly endless family members who have worked hard to create this leading winery.
Bill Wilson was at the meeting at the new Upper Room, above the Tasting Room at the winery, along with the elder Wilsons. They introduced their “top shelf” wines, always a feature at the Upper Room. Gus Viscurdo, the winemaker at Wilson Creek, walked me through the Reserve Meritage, Reserve Malbec and Reserve Petite Sirah.
The Petite Sirah brought lots of happiness around the table and is considered one of their finest most prestigious wines ($85). It has aromas of blackberry, sandlewood and plum and is a BIG wine. Check out wilsoncreekwinery.com.
• Temecula Valley Wine Country has its annual Barrel Tasting Event Saturday Jan. 27 and Sunday Jan. 28 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wines will be perfectly paired with food samplings. A single-day ticket has visits with 18 or so wineries, with the second day an experience with the other 18 wineries. For a list of the wineries and other details, visit temeculawines.org, or call toll free (800) 801-9463.
• WineSellar & Brasserie in Sorrento Valley San Diego has its New Year’s Eve Sparklers event from 5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 27. Taste and choose from the best labels. Cost is $15. For details, call (858) 450-9557.
• Seasalt Seafood Bistro is planning the wine dinner of the month for January, with DAOU wines from Paso Robles at 6 p.m. Jan. 11 Del Mar. Daou Mountain has become a famous landmark for purity of wine flavor, matched with the superior menu of Seasalt, like roasted lamb with the reserve DAOU Cabernet. Cost is $65 per person. Call for your RSVP at (858) 755-7100.
Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. He is one of the leading commentators on the web. View his columns at thecoastnews.com. Go to menu then columns. Reach him at [email protected]