by Bob Sparrow
(The first part of this blog was accidentally posted last week as I made the first of many errors to come by putting 2019 in place of 2020. Sorry to those who read the first half, but I encourage you to finish it, you might be surprised at the ending)
I will drink no more . . . or no less.
I will lose, wait, no I’ll win
I will exercise . . . better judgement about exercising
No, this blog will not be resolutions that will vanish like a dog’s dinner by the end of January or about resolutions at all. It’s about wine . . . sort of.
In spite of being born and raised just miles from America’s greatest wine region, Napa-Sonoma, I am no oenophile and definitely not a ‘wine snob’, although I will admit to often remarking, “I am too old to drink cheap wine.” Which is why my trip to the Temecula wine region some 20 years ago was most disappointing – really bad wine.
Fast forward to this past New Year’s holiday when a group of neighbors planned a trip to the Temecula wine region. We would be staying at the Temecula Creek Inn, playing golf there and . . . wine tasting. It sounded like fun, except for the wine tasting. I figured I could bring a couple of bottles of ‘good’ northern California wine and not have to drink the swill from Temecula.
I was not alone in my opinion of Temecula wine; wine experts from all over the world were rating their wines as too sweet, the aromas funky and lacking in complexity and flavors like those found in Napa or even Paso Robles. In fact, some reviews of the Temecula wines said things like, “flavors that were not all that appealing – they smelled like burning tires or rotting cabbage.” So the region, which consists of 33,000 acres about 85 miles southeast of Los Angeles, became known for bachelorette limo tasting tours and sub-par wine.
So, if you get invited to go wine tasting in Temecula . . . Go!
Yes, you read that right, go.
Mark my words, as someone who wouldn’t have made the short trip to Temecula to taste wine if they’d sent a limo for me, there has been an amazing turn-around not only in the wine being produced, but in the atmosphere created in the 40+ wineries located there.
How was this dramatic turn-around made? It’s complicated and includes everything from pH factors to the glassy-winged sharpshooter! The sharpshooter is a bug that was responsible for destroying 40% of the vineyards in the Temecula valley in the 1990s, which made the vintners start all over by solving the pH problem as well as creating proper vine balance and better irrigation practices. They also planted more Italian, Rhone and Spanish varietals which are better suited to Temecula’s Mediterranean climate.
I don’t pretend to know anything about what I just wrote, but I tasted the wine and found my favorites, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Super Tuscany, all very good; Chardonnays and other whites were also very tasty. It’s not Napa or Paso Robles, but it’s much improved and they’ve done a great job of making the wineries and tasting rooms aesthetically, well, wine country-like . Additionally, unlike most other wine areas in California, Temecula allows restaurants at its wineries. The main ‘wine trail’ in Temecula is Rancho California Road where you can find most of the major wineries as well as some beautiful homes in the surrounding hills – it’s really become a pretty classy area. You can get a ‘bird’s eye view’ of it all via hot air balloons, whose colorful canopies populate the morning Temecula sky.
So the new year for me began with an unexpected pleasant surprise – hopefully a harbinger of things to come for us all this year.