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Barrel Tasting and Food Pairing in Temecula Valley

Dave Mullen barrel tastes a new vintage
Dave Mullen barrel tastes a new vintage
Photo by Marc Simpson

March started like a lion in the Temecula Valley with the World of Wine Barrel Tasting and Food Pairing.

In two days of fun, 33 participating wineries opened their barrel rooms along with a barrel of a wine to show us what wines they’re aging. These wineries typically showcased a white and a red wine. Each winery had a local chef who created a small plate of food to pair with each. Temecula wine country is growing so fast, and this was a great way to see what the new wineries look like. But, the old favorites are still there, too.

One of those old favorites, Callaway Vineyard and Winery, is one of the founders of the Temecula Valley Wine Region. They showcased their 2008 Winemaker’s Reserve Calliope Red, (a Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and Cinsault blend) with a duck and root vegetable spezzatino. Their 2009 Winemaker’s Reserve Calliope White, (a classic Rhone blend of Roussane and Marsanne) paired nicely with a smokey ham, carmelized onion, brie and rosemary stromboli.

A new winery, Masia de Yabar, sitting high on a hill overlooking the De Portola Wine Trail, showcased its Spanish varietals a lovely 2008 Garnache and a 2010 Tempranillo, still in the barrel. Enjoying a fresh breeze on their saltillo tile patio, being serenaded by a Spanish guitarist and noshing on paella made for a magical hour. This winery is a lovely house and is available to rent for private events. It comes with a gourmet kitchen that would make any chef envious.

But then, off to the next new winery. Miramonte Winery barrel-tasted a 2010 Chardonnay. They poured a 2008 Pinot Grigio and a 2006 Syrah. The chef dazzled patrons with a wild pumpkin and roasted garlic risotto with goat cheese and toasted pine nuts. Truly spectacular.

Another new winery is Foot Path Winery. It’s still in temporary quarters, tucked away in the woods, offering a cool respite from the hot valley. Their wines are showing great potential. A highlight was the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, which was smooth and fruity. The barrel tasting was a 2008 Syrah paired with Spaghetti, Italian salami, cheeses and fruit. This winery was one of the few who poured a Port, and a darn good one at that.

World of Wine is a chance to learn about different wineries, find new treasures, enjoy music on the patios, meet winemakers and the dedicated people behind the wineries and get previews of coming vintages. While tasting and overhearing the conversations, it’s easy to see that everyone had their favorite wine, favorite spot and favorite pairing.

In two days, it is hard to experience more than a handful of the wineries. But as March exits like a lamb, the season of sitting on a patio on a Sunday afternoon listening to local talented musicians, sipping a bottle of wine and relaxing has just begun.


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  • City: Temecula