Temecula becoming wine & music center for SoCal


This year is shaping up to be a landmark one for Temecula Wine Country in its quest to not only be aKozAbair recognized destination for excellent wines, but for big time music venues.Concerts on the green have been stepped up, as well as happy hour entertainment and clubby small groups on the weekends and in the afterhours.

The big granddaddy of the music movement has to be Thornton Winery’s Champagne Jazz Concerts, now in its 25th year of the top smooth jazz entertainment on the planet, through October 20th. John, Sally and Steve Thornton have set the standard when they recently brought four sax greats in for a two day show that was a complete sell-out both nights. Now seating 800, the audience can order a table-side supper with lots of Thornton wine choices. TASTE OF WINE columnist Frank Mangio with sax queen Mindi Aibair at Thornton Winery in Temecula (see photo).

The beat continues at Thornton when crooner Bobby Caldwell performs on Sat. Aug. 3 at 7pm.Tickets start at $65. for general admission.For ticket and other concert information, contact is www.thorntonwine.com.

Thornton has just released a 2011 Nebbiolo, the famous Italian style varietal, found inBarolo and Barbaresco wines in Italys’ Piedmont district for far higher prices. Winery price is $46.

Over at South Coast Winery Resort & Spa, a festival of Country music wowed the crowds recently.It turned out to be a celebration as news came that South Coast was named the California Winery of the Year at this year’s California State Fair, the 3rd time it has taken the award! Owners Jim and Dawn Carter accepted the award on the capital steps in Sacramento.The winery is also commemorating its 10year Anniversary with a limited release Cuvee wine from winemaster Jon McPherson ($30.)

Call the online store at 951-587-9463 x7234.

Monte De Oro Winery is bringing in their biggest act in rock-pop star Macy Gray, in concert Saturday September 7.Prices start at $48.95. See more at www.montedeoro.com.

Wiens Family Cellars has been giving us some great oldies music for some time now and the winery is about to open the curtain on the English band that in the late 70’s was a hot as can be.The Fixx lit up the charts with “One Thing Leads To Another” and they will be performing Sat. July20.Doors open at 6pm with pricing starting at $45.Friday August 23, Wiens has Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.Ticket information at 800-316-8559.

TemeculaCrushEventOn the De Portola Trail, some 8 or so wineries are constantly improving, none more so than Leoness Cellars.Their entertainment and hospitality is handled by Joel Reese, himself a seasoned musician. This year, he brought in a group of Jazz greats in the maiden year for big-time shows at Leoness.The last of the concerts will be a solo performance by Ronnie Laws, a saxman who was an original member of Earth Wind and Fire, on Sat. July 20 at 7pm. Prices start at $49. For ticket information, call 951-302-7601 x150. For the weekend night life, try Miramonte Winery with live blues and rock music from 7 to 10pm.Cane Vanderhoof has upscaled his winery into a winery/nightclub with huge success. Try Missy Anderson, Queen of the Blues on Sat. July 20.Details at 951-506-5500. Joel Reese of Leoness pours a Syrah for TASTE OF WINE columnist Frank Mangio at a recent Temecula CRUSH event (see photo).

Finally, to get a look and a taste of all the 35 member wineries of Temecula in one location, get a “CRUSH” on Saturday September 14th at Callaway Winery, from 6:30 to 9:30pm.Join the winery owners and winemakers at this 4th annual CRUSH event on the outdoor patio.Enjoy culinary creations of the wineries and nearby restaurants of Temecula.Pre-sale discount tickets for $65. on sale now through August 16. Go to www.temeculawines.org.

Wine Bytes

  • The Taste of Rancho Santa Fe is Sat. July 20 from 4:30 to 7:40pm at the RSF Golf Club. It’s produced by the RSF Rotary as a benefit for several non-profits.This is a fine wine-fine tasting experience including over 100 tastings, many from Napa Valley.Cost is $75. pp.Call 858-449-5173 for tix info.
  • San Diego Wine Company s weekly tasting Sat. July 20 is Washington State Wines.Times are 11 to 4pm.Cost is $10.Details at 858-586-WINE.
  • Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas presents a Napa Valley Cakebread Cellars Seminar Thurs. July 25.$20. ea.Check with Meritage for time:760-479-2500.
  • San Diego State University announces an Open House for its Business of Wine Opportunities classes, Thurs. July 25 from 6 to 7:30pm, in the Extended Studies Gateway Centers.Call 619-594-1138 for an RSVP, directions and a parking permit. Learn about fall courses in the wine industry.

Frank Mangio is a renowned San Diego wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web.View and link up with his columns at www.tasteofwinetv.com. Reach him at [email protected].