Ponte is a usual suspect when I'm wine tasting and it looked beautiful on a cloudy day.

Temecula Harvest Celebration shows off the Valley’s best of the best

I definitely found my new favorite winery during the Temecula Harvest Celebration at Robert Renzoni Vineyards.

Written by and photos by Nadia Ibanez

There’s an enormous sense of pride when you enter into Temecula Wine Country or speak to any of the wine growers or makers. In my opinion, it’s a continuous showcase at each winery in the most humble way possible. Whether I’m talking to a winery owner, farmer, a worker in the tasting room, or even just a volunteer brand ambassador, Temecula residents LOVE their wine.

I had the pleasure of visiting the Temecula Valley last week during the Temecula Winegrower Association Harvest Celebration Barrel Tasting Weekend. The two-day event allowed guests to visit more than 30 member wineries to sample each vineyard’s prized pours, along with food tastings and samples of wines still in the barrel or tank not yet available to the public.

Ponte is a usual suspect when I’m wine tasting and it looked beautiful on a cloudy day.

In one afternoon, we were able to visit 12 wineries, which is definitely an accomplishment of its own. Here’s a look back at some of our favorite tastes from the Temecula Winegrower Association Harvest Celebration.

Doffo Winery has always been a favorite of mine but it’s been far too long since I’ve visited the vineyard or the tasting room. The winery is known for its Argentinian grapes and the dozens of antique motorcycles found throughout the space. The winery was offering its 2012 Malbec and 2012 Syrah. Both were perfect additions to its Italian ragout of vegetables, homemade noodles and meatballs. The famous Doffo chimichurri sauce was also served with bread alongside the soup and it was the perfect way to warm up on a cool afternoon.

The view from Doffo Winery, Argentinian ragout, 2012 Syrah and a cloudy day make for the best way to go wine tasting in Temecula.

Some of the wineries were offering tastes of barrel wines unavailable to the public and we definitely had our favorites. One memorable pour came from Chapin Family Vineyards. Their 2012 Petite Sirah had a hint of spice and vanilla to it and paired well with the tri-tip steak and potatoes sample which had a drizzle of a Merlot reduction sauce.

The barrel sampling of Petite Sirah from Chapin Temecula.

Each winery we visited had a food pairing to complement its wine. Temecula was cold and cloudy that day so all of the stews and soups were a welcome addition to the day. We especially loved the Lobster Bisque from Thornton Winery and their NV Brut was a perfect toast to start our day. Robert Renzoni was serving up Big Fred’s Italian sausage in their Mama Rosa’s marinara sauce and it was a huge hit.

Big Fred’s Italian sausage in Mama Rosa’s marinara will make you want to ask for seconds.

Wiens Family Cellars served a Omaha barbeque flank steak over herbed mushroom polenta and toppped with hickory smoked parmesan. It paired perfectly with the 2013 Merrytage, an annual blend available during the holidays.

Wiens Family Cellars’ Omaha barbeque flank steak.

There are so many ways to enjoy Temecula wines. The Valley was once known as a bachelor/bachelorette party destination, but it’s quickly gaining steam. Whether you’re seeking a hands-on, walking-through-the-vineyards experience or simply looking to visit tasting rooms by the handful, the Temecula Harvest Celebration is a great way to see all that the Valley has to offer. While the event only happens once a year, the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association has monthly events that will definitely pique your interest. For more information, visit www.TemeculaWines.org.

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