Temecula Valley Taste-A-Thon!

I had the absolute pleasure of tasting wines from the Temecula Valley this year! Because it was during quarantine, the tasting came to me, and it was wildly fun. I had never had the opportunity to really taste wines from this region before, and when they offered me the chance to do so while speaking with the winemakers, I dove at the chance to immerse myself virtually.

So where is Temecula Valley? The Temecula Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area) is in Southern California. It borders the north of San Diego County and southwestern Riverside County. If you’re traveling from L.A., it’s about 80 miles. Here you will find the largest amount of wine produced by volume here with 2,500 acres planted just for grapes! The climate here is ideal for grape growing the breezes, warm sunny days, and coastal influence. They grow over two dozen grape varietals and even offer Italian, Rhone, and Spanish varietals, which really do well in the Temecula Valley climate. I was so pleasantly surprised to see an Albariño in the lineup, as well as Sangiovese, and even a Touriga Nacional!

Some of my favorite wines from the incredible tasting were:

Cougar Vineyard and Winery Falanghina 2019- Another winery growing some fantastic Italian varietals, but with California flare! This wine is incredibly fun with notes of pear and apples. You will notice some white flower notes, followed by a wonderful finish. Falanghina is an intense varietal, that really embraces the Temecula Valley terroir, and Cougar produces a fine example of this wine. $30

Hart Winery Albarino, 2019 Limited Release- I always love an Albarino, and this one is from high elevation vineyards with nice coastal breezes. It has crisp acidity, delicious stone fruit notes, and a wonderful finish. Albarino is a great grape, and one of my favorite white varietals so it was no surprise that the Hart Albarino was on my top picks from the tasting! $28

South Coast Winery 2019 Verdelho- I was pleasantly surprised to see this fun and obscure Portuguese grape varietal in the lineup! This wine is refreshing and bold with guava, passionfruit, and bright lemon notes. On the palate some gooseberry and grapefruit with a long clean finish. $20

2017 Motodoffo Super Tinto: One of my favorite wines in the lineup! A blend of 60% Malbec, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Zinfandel, with handpainted artwork on the label! This wine is full-bodied and full of purple fruit and sweet spice. It has a very smooth texture with a deliciously long finish! This was seriously one of my favorite wines of the lineup, it’s bold and intense yet smooth and long-lasting. This wine also makes a great gift for the wine lover in your life! $55

Hart Winery 2017 Driveway Red- A Limited Release wine made in the Bordeaux style. The grapes used for this wine are grown along the driveway of the estate and are picked and fermented as a single lot. This wine is very elegant and oak-driven with wonderful red and black fruit notes. On the palate, it’s so smooth, probably due to its 2 years aging in barrel. $39 

Leoness Winery 2017 Syrah, Alessandro Vineyards- Another stunner from this incredible area of California! From the western hills in California, this easy to drink and lively syrah is one your palate will love. I couldn’t put my glass down! It’s deep and intense with ripe blackberry and spice notes, with underlying red fruit flavors. On the palate, the spice continues into a smooth and delicious finish. $60

Palumbo Family 2015 Sangiovese- I was pumped when I saw a Sangiovese in the tasting because I love the way Italian varietals grow in California! This wine is from the Belle Vigna Vineyards and shows notes of dark berries, sweetness, plum, pepper, and smooth tannins. This wine is ideal for summertime and pairs nicely with summertime favorites, such as grilled steak, shrimp, and creative summer salads. $46

2015 Lorenzi Family Cabernet, Lot 651- An amazing wine from lot 651! This wine is currently sold out (because it’s that damn good!) but have no fear, you can grab another bottle of their fabulous wines right online. The Cabernet is bold and alluring with nice notes of black fruit, oak, and spice. On the palate, it’s incredibly smooth and has a long finish. This wine easily pairs with red meats, but can also go nicely with fish and vegetable dishes maybe with a Pomodoro sauce. $95

2018 Wiens Pinot Noir A nice nose of cranberry, bright red fruit, and spice. A family winery dedicated to crafting balanced and wonderful wines, this Pinot Noir is one not to miss. With just a touch of petite syrah added to this wine, for color and age-ability, this wine is perfect for end of summer and fall entertaining. If you love Pinot, then this wine will win you over! *Not currently available 

You can find many of these wineries other wines online, and because they’re from the USA you can get them shipped to your home! This was an outstanding tasting, which I enjoyed because I had never had this many wines from the same region, in so many varying styles all at once. The wines of Temecula Valley are fantastic, and I can’t wait to try more!

Always remember, eat what you like and drink what you love. Please pair responsibly!

Sara Lehman

About Sara Lehman

Sommelier, Private Chef, & Food and Wine Pairing Expert in NYC! Sara is a Wine Writer, Wine Ambassador, and Wine Consultant specializing in pairings, parties, entertaining and education.

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