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The Wino Club Logo


Spent last weekend at the Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival ( and it was fabulous! Almost 30 wineries, over 200 vendors, and 2 fantastic balloon launches both mornings.
The evenings were filled with music from both country and rock artists including James Otto, Lonestar, Chuck Wicks, Survivor and Sugar Ray. And there were also evening balloon glows set to music both nights. What could be better??
It takes over 700 volunteers to make this event happen and I am so appreciative of the efforts in making this event a success!
If you have not checked out this event yet, you need to put it on your calendar right now for the first weekend in June 2010. It will be bigger and better with a newly constructed amphitheater...woohoo!
See you there:)


The Wino Club: Temecula Wines

Temecula wines compete with each other and some great quality was found. What I'm most excited about is the Grenache Rose, which Peter Poole of Vitis Consulting explained as a truly new experiment for this valley.  This Barbie pink wine was surprisingly not sticky sweet, but well balanced, dry and crisp with beautiful color and fruit.  So good in fact, it tied for first at our own Wino Club meeting!

Winners of the fourth annual Temecula Valley Wine Society Competition have been announced.

South Coast Winery’s 2007 Semillion and 2007 White Proprietary Blend “GVR” tied for Best of Class (Whites). Additionally, its Non Vintage Sparkling Syrah “Ruby Cuvee” and 2007 Genache Rose were awarded Best of Class in their respective categories.

Stuart Cellars Winery’s 2005 Meritage “Long Valley Red – Unfiltered Estate Bottled” and Thornton Winery’s 2005 Proprietary Red Blend “Cabernet/Merlot” tied for Best of Class (Reds).

The big winner, voted Best Wine overall, was Mount Palomar’s Non Vintage Solera Cream Sherry.

Article from the Valley News.

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The Wino Club: Sake Making

I really have been fascinated with Sake lately and the ongoing debate that Sake is more like wine in tasting palette and like beer in the fermenting.  This article from The Daily Yomuri Online explains how the fermenting is getting more and more wine-like:

Three sake brewers are using old wine barrels to age sake in attempt to stop a decline in what is regarded as the national tipple.

Sake kept in wine barrels carries slight hints of white wine in its flavor and brewers hope it will prove to be more pleasant to the palate. Although the amount produced by this unorthodox method is still small, some kinds have sold out, and its popularity is growing.

The brewers also are targeting the overseas market, riding an international boom in Japanese cuisine.

Other brewers plan to use wine barrels to age their products.

The barrels being used are of French oak and were used for making white wine by Katsunuma Winery Co, one of the leading wineries in Katsunumacho, the center of Koshu (Yamanashi) wine production in Yamanashi Prefecture.

Gochouda Brewery Co. in Ureshino, Saga Prefecture, started storing sake in the barrels in autumn 2006. Koichi Hasegawa, 52, president of Hasegawasaketen store in Koto Ward, Tokyo, acted as a mediator between the winery and the sake maker. Hasegawa, who also is a client of Katsunuma Winery, thought the mild scent of Koshu grapes would work well in sake.

Hishitomo Brewery Co. of Shimosuwamachi, Nagano Prefecture, and Sumikawa Brewery Co. of Hagi, Yamaguchi Prefecture, followed suit in April 2007.

Wine barrels are usually thrown out after five or six years of use. The sake makers select barrels used for three or four years and keep their top-quality sake in the barrels for several months.

The sake makers are still working through trial and error as the taste differs slightly according to the season and barrel conditions. "The barrels have worked well with the sake, making the most of the delicate flavors," Hasegawa said.

Japan Airlines started serving one of the wine-barrel sake brands in its first class cabins in June 2007. It has proven popular with foreign passengers, according to the airline. The sake makers plan to export the sake to the United States starting later this year with shipments to Britain and Taiwan sometime later.

The sake makers hope the sake also will go over well with younger Japanese consumers, who are more accustomed to drinking wine than older customers.

"If sake loses popularity, Japan's alcohol culture, including wine, won't grow," said Shigeyuki Hirayama, executive managing director at Katsunuma Winery Co.

For the full article read here.
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The Wino Club: Russian Wine

Many articles come across my desk, but one touting the upsurge of fine Russian wines that also happen to be naturally organic intrigued me. 

The problem is, I have never seen a Russian wine available to even begin to qualify this statement.  Most of the wine making history of Russia consists of high regulations and the inability or means for vintners to bottle their own product.  The wine is organic not because of environmental choice, but because of the lack of funds to buy pesticides. And let's face it,  from what I've heard, Russia had been producing for decades wine that could hardly be called that.  Not that I don't believe in second chances and a new resurgence of quality. 

With that in mind, I don't see that many Russian wine makers will be able to fund the cost of marketing and shipping their products to the United States and have not heard of many importers rushing out to Russia to import.  It would be most interesting to see the development of a new world product coming from this European nation.  Perhaps it will take less time than English wines to make it here to the States?

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The WIno Club: Female Winemakers Take over Spain

When I read this article in the Wall Street Journal I laughed so hard at one of the quotations from a female wine maker that I had to post it up here.  It appears that female entrants into the University to study the art have increased 40% in the past few years.  They have found a niche in Spain's wine world that accepts and nurtures them, but it of course is in the one region of Spain where they produce nothing but white wine, Albarino to be exact.  Of course the women end up in this region over the more masculine Rioja areas right? Here's the best quotation ever:

Some in the industry try to insult us by saying the AlbariƱo is a wine only for women," says Luisa Freire Plana, a winemaker at Bodega Santiago Ruiz. "But I think it's a wine that is too complex for some men."


The article gives a great history of the region and profiles a few of the women heading up the wine making in this region.  I will definitely be looking for some Albarino to taste soon -  on the drier side for me with crisp lemony flavors and the minerality of the nearby ocean. I highly recommend you read the original article posted here
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The Wino Club: Cleavage Creek

We don't typically promote one wine over any others and I have to admit that I only just ordered this wine and have not tasted it yet.  But sometimes it just doesn't matter.  Cleavage Creek Cellars in Napa, California, features a different survivor on every bottle of wine and donates 10% back to breast cancer issues.  It's worth a taste just to know you can be socially responsible and drunk at the same time - love that!

Welcome to Cleavage Creek, a winery that’s passionate about celebrating life and fine wine. Owner Budge Brown and Cleavage Creek are dedicated to making exceptional wines and to fighting breast cancer. 10% of the gross proceeds of all wine sales will be donated to breast cancer research.  Enjoy the fine wines of Cleavage Creek and be a part of an effort to beat breast cancer.

Check out their store at
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The Wino Club: Temecula Winery Wins

People in Northern California laugh at our claims of having a wine country in Southern California. Even though we have a good number of active wineries here, they snub their noses at the quality of our wines. And to be honest, they used to be correct. Used to be. Our vintners here have been working on not only the quality of product but on the perception that we are a sub-prime wine growing / producing region.

Our sincerest congratulations goes out to Jim & Maggie Carter for the preponderance of awards issued to them and mostly for kicking some Northern California butt at their own competition. Here's the article:

Vindicated at last: Temecula winery takes top honors at California State Fair

10:00 PM PDT on Friday, July 11, 2008

The Press-Enterprise

A Temecula-area winery took home top honors from the California State Fair this week, winning a trophy as the statewide competition's premier winery and capturing almost 40 medals.

South Coast Winery won the 2008 Golden State Winery of the Year honor at the fair's Commercial Wine Competition, fair officials announced Friday. It is the first time a Southern California winery has won the award.

The winery beat out 647 others for the trophy. The competition took place last month in Sacramento.

The Golden State Winery honor recognizes the winery that wins a significant number of the highest-level awards.

South Coast's wines won seven gold medals, 13 silver medals, four bronze medals, 12 Best of Class honors and one Best of Region award. Twenty-three of the 36 wines South Coast entered won a medal.

"There's only a handful of wineries that enter that many and do that well," said Mike Bradley, chief bureau of exhibits for the fair.

About 2,900 wines were entered in the competition, which fair officials say is the oldest in North America. The first competition took place in 1855.

South Coast Winery owner Jim Carter said the win was unexpected but proves the winery's commitment to quality.

"We're on the right track," he said. "We're producing wines that Southern California can be proud of.

"It shows the grapes we have here in Temecula are equal to the grapes in other areas of our state."

Opened four years ago, South Coast is one of the region's larger wineries, manufacturing about 60,000 cases of wine a year. South Coast also has a resort and day spa.

Ray Falkner, president of the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association, said the award is a "great boon for our entire region.

"This really ... gets a lot of wine writers and distributors and aficionados to pay attention to our region," he said.

With about 30 wineries, Wine Country is small compared with its counterparts in better-known regions in Central and Northern California.

The region's wines have suffered from a poor reputation in the past, but Temecula winemakers have banded together to improve quality. They have entered competitions and invited wine critics to Temecula to taste their product.

Reach Jeff Horseman at 951-375-3727 or


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