Written by Nadia Ibanez, Photos courtesy of Wilson Creek Winery
Sometimes we come across a business whose owner has an amazing story rich in history, family involvement and community support that we just can’t wait to share their story with all of our lovely readers. We had the absolute pleasure of learning the story behind the famous Almond Champagne from Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula.
We traveled to Temecula Valley and weren’t prepared for a region where the entire valley and community supported each other. I like to call Temecula Valley the “Napa Valley of Southern California” not only because of its acres and acres of vineyards, tasting rooms and knowledgeable winemakers, but also because of its cuisine, hotels, and sommeliers that could talk for hours about their favorite vinos.
If you know anything about Temecula Valley, you must know about the Almond Champagne from Wilson Creek Winery. I’m pretty sure you’ve tasted this delicious-ness at the last Bachelorette Party you went to but you may be surprised with the story that’s behind the brand.
The idea behind Wilson Creek was purely serendipitous and began with a conversation among owner Bill Wilson and his friend about a recent trip to a Bed and Breakfast in Temecula Valley that turned into an idea for a restaurant, resort and winery. Wilson came from a cut throat financial industry and knew he was bound to jump headfirst into a new industry.
THE BEGINNINGS OF ALMOND CHAMPAGNE
After a massive amount of research in wine making, and some serious support from siblings and friends, the idea for Wilson Creek just created itself.
“I was always questioned, ‘Why Temecula?’” Wilson said after telling us that friends and family were concerned about his new business venture. “If we moved to Temecula back in the 90s, we would have been the 14th winery…had we moved to Santa Barbara, we would have been the 114th winery. In Napa, we would have been the 314thwinery.”
Wilson later acquired his piece of land from an older gentleman who was trying to get rid of the property. “The more we liked his facility, the more he didn’t want to sell it,” he said. “He didn’t want to sell it because he was 75 years old, single, no kids, and was using the winery to pick up hot chicks.” Eight years later, Wilson and his family finally got the land they’ve been eyeing.
“I do have a saying,” Wilson says. “As much fun as you think owning a winery is, however, living on the property amongst the wines, waking up to hot air balloons, with the fog over the valley, working with your family and friends, doing what I do, it’s even better than what you think it is.”
HOME OF THE FAMOUS ALMOND CHAMPAGNE
The infamy of Wilson Creek’s Almond Champagne can all be “blamed” on Bill’s wife. “My wife wanted something different. We asked everyone where they got their champagnes and it all came from some place up North. We asked if they had anything different, we tried their samples, and it was nothing too great,” he said.
“My wife still asked if there was really anything different. ‘Ugh, really honey?’ he said in the typical boyfriend/husband huffiness that all of our lady friends are accustomed to. ‘Why are you busting my chops still when I have so many other things to do like open this winery?’ And her women’s intuition definitely paid off.
“We asked this winery to send us over something still under-development and they sent us over something that sounds strange called Almond Champagne. My wife loved it, but it was too sweet, so we re-worked before selling it at our winery. They sent us 10 cases and they were sold in four hours. Then we bought a palate of 55 cases and we sold it in a week. We went to outside events and people were lining up for it asking if we were the ones with the Almond Champagne. “What the hell did we have on our hands here?” And it was something pretty special. Now we’re in 28 states. Today, we asked ourselves, how do we get the masses to try it and realize how good it is?”
Wilson Creek’s Almond Champagne can be found in grocery stores across the country and inside their tasting room in Temecula. If you’re in the area, please do yourself a favor and check out this amazing winery. Bring the girls, bring your main squeeze and spend the day learning about this fantastic area, its grapes and vines, and all of the families who are making their careers their passion. It just so happens that it involves some of the best wines in the area.
For more information, visit www.WilsonCreekWinery.com.