Temecula Valley vintners were excited to introduce the latest Hall of Fame inductees at the 34th Annual Grape Day conference held on April 13, 2017 at South Coast Winery in Temecula, California. The inductees honored were John Poole and Peter Poole.
The Temecula Valley Winegrowers Hall of Fame was introduced in 2016 by Phil Baily, owner of Baily Winery and member of the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association (TVWA) Board of Directors. The first inductees into the Hall of Fame were Vince & Audrey Cilurzo and John Moramarco. At the time, Baily noted “The recent passing of wine country pioneer Vince Cilurzo prompted the TVWA Board of Directors to consider ways we could honor his memory. In discussing this, we realized that other pioneers should be recognized, most notably Audrey Cilurzo, because Vince and Audrey partnered in their accomplishments. John Moramarco was unquestionably the key leader of our rise in the 1960s and for the following thirty-plus years.”
Vincenzo and Audrey Cilurzo planted the first commercial wine grape vineyard in the Temecula Valley. They established Cilurzo Vineyard and Winery as one of the first wineries in the Temecula Valley. As husband and wife, they championed the growing of red wine grapes, most notably Petite Sirah. They offered help, encouragement and support to all the wineries that followed them.
John Moramarco planted one of the first commercial wine grape vineyards in the Temecula Valley in 1968 while working for Brookside Winery. In the late 1980s his efforts helped Riverside County create the citrus/vineyard zone which preserved agriculture and laid the foundation for the remarkable growth of wineries over the ensuing years. Moramarco also worked to mobilize Riverside County, the City of Temecula, State and Federal efforts to successfully combat the spread of Pierce’s Disease in Temecula Valley vineyards.
“This year’s Hall of Fame inductees were similarly accomplished and well respected within Temecula Valley’s wine community and we’re very appreciative of their efforts on behalf of all of us,” stated Phil Baily.
John Poole purchased vineyard land in the Temecula Valley in 1969, establishing Long Valley Vineyards, which eventually grew to 165 planted acres. Additionally, he planted one of California’s earliest Syrah vineyards in 1974. John founded Mt. Palomar Winery in 1975; this was Temecula’s second winery. In 1978, he opened the first permanent tasting room and was the first to begin advertising the Temecula Valley as a tourist destination.
Peter Poole, John’s son, was a founding member of the South Coast Vintners Association, a predecessor of the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association. He served many years as the President and Board Member of the Vintners Association and its successor. Peter took over operation of Mt. Palomar Winery in 1985, making it the first winery in the Temecula Valley under second-generation leadership. For many years, he worked to improve viticulture and winemaking practices in the Valley. He was instrumental in the effort to change the official name of the American Viticulture Area (AVA) from Temecula to Temecula Valley. He pioneered the planting of Italian varieties in California, being the first to plant Cortese in California and Sangiovese in the Temecula Valley. When the area was under siege from the vine destroying Glassy-winged sharpshooter, Peter helped lead the successful fight against the pest and the spread of Pierce’s Disease in the Temecula Valley.