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Aug 12, 2008 03:49 PM

Temecula winery wins the "Gold State Winery of the Year" award.

Basically this means that at the California State Fair Temecula's South Coast Winery won the best winery of the year award. This award almost always goes to wineries in Napa or Sonoma so it is unprecedented that a winery from Southern California would wine this award. I think this is a very good sign that our local wine industry is maturing and that it is now attracting high quality talent. Will San Diego/Temecula ever be Napa? No, probably not but it does mean that more and more we going to get to enjoy some very high quality local wines.


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  1. man oh man are my tastebuds shot. The last time I was up there I thought their wines kinda sucked. Also I am always a bit leery of their commitment to the wines, when the pourers talk more about the spa experience at the winery than the wines. I will stick to Hart and Orfelia, thank you very much.

    9 Replies
    1. re: littlestevie

      Warning: I'm ranting again. I agree with your opinion on South Coast. As far as purely wine is concerned, I wouldn't even put it on my list of drinkable stuff, and many wineries in Temecula produce wines of so much better quality (Palumbo, Faulkner). But isn't South Coast the only place that is a spa/hotel as well as a winery? Perhaps this is why they were chosen for the award. I'm not sure I see this as a good thing for Temecula. It would be a shame if an area which has such potential for making great wine turned into a three-ring circus. I ranted about this on a previous Temecula thread where I made clear my contempt for the wine-ignorant limo crowd. The "spa experience" spiel clearly caters to that group rather than those of us who actually recognize and enjoy good wine and don't need to be lured by dogs and ponies. We just returned from a trip to San Francisco during which we made a brief stop in Paso Robles. The best wine we found was an old vines zin made by a small-lot boutique winery tucked away in the hills (Turley). This is some of the most outstanding zin we've every had, and we've had them all over the state in all price ranges. No gift shop, no spa, no restaurant, just outstanding wine made in very small batches (not sold in any retail outlet) by a winemaker who clearly knows his stuff and loves what he does. I'll take that any day over a place which disguises its mediocrity in a shiny spa package and sells it to an enthusiastically gullible crowd. Sorry. It's been a long day. I'll go away now.

      1. re: littlestevie

        Out of curiosity when was the last time you tried their wine? Last week the local radio program "The Gourmet Club" (http://www.signonradio.com/programs/g...) interviewed the owner and they said the fruit is changing very quickly as the vines are still rather young plus I believe they recently (as in the last year or two) got a new wine maker.

        I personally have tried any wine from South Coast but I am happy to see a local producer wine on the state and national level.

        1. re: oerdin

          I do agree with you that national publicity for a local winery is, in general, a good thing. Temecula has definitely improved over the last 20-some years we've been going there, and a lot of that is due to the attention it's been receiving. I guess I'm just annoyed by our cultural tendency to pay more attention to the packaging than the content, and that form rather than substance is what gets rewarded. I last tried South Coast about a year ago. In my opinion, their wines are middle of the road at best, definitely not on par with several other Temecula wineries whose products could easily hold their own in Napa. Also, I'm suspicious of the young fruit excuse. I could be wrong, but I think South Coast is one of those Temecula wineries that doesn't use estate grown grapes. They may use some, but most of their material comes from older vineyards from around the state. Nothing wrong with that, it's a common practice, but to blame the quality of your wine on fruit you don't even use is disingenuous. Perhaps someone who knows more about this could chime in; I'd like to find out how young fruit impacts wine quality, if at all, and how winemakers incorporate them into their products. Anyway, I am glad that Temecula is coming into its own and that it is finally receiving the attention it deserves. Now, perhaps, they can shift their attention to their eateries and bring them up to the same speed.

          1. re: SDgirl

            Yeah, unfortunately Temecula's eateries remain the type you'd expect to find in a outlaying suburb instead of what you'd expect from a destination for wine connoisseurs.

            1. re: SDgirl

              SDgirl, you stated my thoughts much better than I did. All I know about the fruit, is that age of the vines seems to make a bigger difference for the Rhone reds than the whites. They did seem quite proud of their sources for their reds, which if my memory serves me, was a cabernet. The wine was just insipid. It was weak tasting, pale in coler. Almost any of the mega producers cabs seemed more interesting than what I tasted at south coast. Since it was a cab, which I am not sure is the best wine for Temecula growers anyway, This may of been the previous winemakers wine and I may have to give the new winemaker a fair shot. I do hope their wines get better.

              1. re: SDgirl

                Disclaimer: My boyfriend works at South Coast. The TWO new winemakers were previously with Culbertson (any oldtimers here remember them?) and are very knowledgeable.

                Many of the grapes ARE estate grown but since the winery bottles a lot of wine, some grapes do come from Rancho Cucamonga vineyards.

                In regard to the wines, South Coast is a business and has to produce what the market will buy. If most people buying wine currently prefer sweet muscats, viogniers, and heaven forbid, white zinfandel, then the smart businessman/winemaker produces those and tries to educate those palates by offering other, better wines as well as few high end wines. You can't blame them for not trying to make a living. In a perfect world, winemakers would only make the very best, finest wines for connoisseurs' palates but we've all seen those wineries go broke too.

                One last thing: most (all?) wine competitions, and certainly the California State Fair, are blind taste tests. No one knows which winery is represented and no one cares if they have a spa resort attached. Rumor has it the judges have the same anti-Temecula prejudice many folks here seem to display and were appalled when they realized which winery they'd selected. Makes the victory all the sweeter.

            2. re: littlestevie

              You can't win a medal unless you enter into the contest (i.e., the fair). I've had a couple of conversations with good wine-makers who say they don't enter their wines into fair competitions. Likewise, I've tasted a few medal-winning wines that I wasn't too impressed with.

              The upshot is that winning a medal may or may not be a sign of superior quality. I suppose no wine is going to win a medal if it's horrible, but winning a medal doesn't necessarily mean it's top-notch, either.

              Like SDgirl says above, if someone who knows more than me about this kind of thing (which would not be hard to do) wants to chime in I'd like to learn more.

              1. re: alanstotle

                Nobody that knows what they are talking about wants to beat a dead horse!

                1. re: Wino

                  It's kinda depressing as a local (I have lived in Temecula for 5 yrs) that the kind of restaurants people *say* they want (unique, different, non-cookie cutter, family owned, etc etc) are not what people support. We've had a few intrepid restaurauters who have seen that people here support chains. We have a nice Italian place called Francesca's and I can't understand why it stands empty night after night yet there's an hourlong wait at Romano's or Olive Garden. We do have a few gems here but they are few and far between.

                  re: wine & the wineries - the restaurant at Ponte is good; the Baily family has Carol's at Baily and also a good restaurant in Old Town. My favorite local winery is a small family owned one called Stuart Cellars. Nobody's heard of it which is kind of fine with me since their tastings are lovely - quiet, no drunken party limos. I was at an event at Wilson Creek and it was a zoo.

                  re: specific wines - one interesting thing some of our local wines are doing is a Bordeaux-like mix called meritage. Give it a try. Our geography is well-suited for these type of grapes. It's sad to see people traveling specifically to this area to drink "almond flavored champagne" (!!) made from grapes that weren't even grown here when there are small local family-owned wineries that are producing wonderful & unique products.

            3. Posting about awards at fairs is horrible. The people who do the judging have little real experience with wine, they just like whatever is sweet. As well no good winery will ever put their wine into a state fair award.

              Temecula still makes trash wine, and South Coast winery makes some of the worst in all of Temecula. Oak chips, picked too early, no discriminating grape picking. Crap crap crap.