ARCHIVE FOR June, 2013

Want Mexican food? Temecula Wine Country’s the place

We love traveling California Wine Country, all the nooks and crannies, looking for great wines for The California Wine Club–and we love find great food along the way.

Like Mexican food?  Then go to Temecula wine country, just an hour north of San Diego.  You’re in the heart of southern California where good Mexican food is standard.  Buy some  Tempranillo or Syrah (this region does well with both) and savor an almost south-of-the-border chance for great enchiladas and more!

Our favorites?  Casa Lucy, Rosa’s Cantina …let us know about YOUR discoveries!

A Word About Awards

Talking to California winemakers, we’ve noticed a trend going on with wine competitions: many small wineries just aren’t participating anymore. They say they sell out their wine through word of mouth and loyal customer base, so why enter?  Then there’s a cost to enter, plus the judges need 6 or more bottles.  Add to all this the paperwork involved (small wineries are already swimming in that), and the result is — small wineries aren’t chasing down those medals like they used to.  

So, be sure to not pass up a wine just because it has no gold medals. We think the vineyard, the region, the handcrafting and the people who make that wine are just as, if not more, important.  

Right on, Mr. Laube!

In the May issue of Wine Spectator, James Lube wrote a piece called “A Simpler Approach to Wine.”  Thumbs up!  We especially liked this quote:

Trust your taste.  This is the most important consideration of all.  If you don’t like a wine, move on … Drink the wines you like, and skip the ones you don’t. It’s really that simple.”

We think so too, Mr. Laube!!

Wine “Rules?” There are some that count…

Wine has a snobby reputation.  You’re supposed to hold your glass a certain way, sniff the cork, do all these little ritual-type things …

Well, you can throw most of that out.  But, there are some things you can do that really will enhance your wine experience – honest!

1. Many wines taste better with aeration.  Decant older wines,  and swirl every wine in your glass.

2.  NEVER store your wine in the kitchen, where heat and light will do it in.

       3.   ALWAYS store your wine on its side, to keep the cork moist and protect the wine from aeration.

4. If a wine knocks your socks off – buy a case and enjoy it as it ages (you may never find it again).

5. Only buy a wine that gives you a satisfaction guarantee (hello CWC…okay, we couldn’t resist that one!).

The REAL Wine Quotes — from Winemakers

We know there are hundreds of wine quotes out there, from the movies, authors, and most of all, “anonymous.”

But in our travels throughout California wine country, we’ve discovered the real wine quotesfrom people who know winethe winemakers

Here are some of our favorites…

Fermentation is like a pony … it wants to run away with you.  –Josh Stein, Founder/Winemaker Stein Family Wines, Treasure Island, talking about why he keeps his fermentation temperatures cool

In 1996, DuMOL was born in a Burgundy haze.  –Kerry Murphy, Founder,  DuMOL, Russian River Valley

We called it Chateau Jeepers – when you drank it you went, ‘oh jeepers!’  –Steve Dragonette, Co-founder, Dragonette Cellars, Santa Barbara County, on tasting the wine his dad used to make in their garage

When I bought it, I thought it should be the next Yosemite, and if it can grow grapes, what a nice extra.  –Jim Dierberg, Founder, Dierberg Estate about his Happy Canyon property in Santa Barbara’s Santa Ynez Valley

Dierberg Founder Jim Dierberg with Winemaker Andy Alba at the Dierberg estate in

Santa Ynez Valley


Packing for Wine Trip? Don’t forget a sweater..

Hey everybody, it’s Pam here…wanted to share some of our “packing for wine country secrets”…we’re heading up to the Central Coast soon to visit Claiborne and Churchill (2 brainy former university profs in their 30th year of making incredible Alsatian-style wines)–

Anyway, even though it’s going to be JULY, the Central Coast can get COLD, especially any part of it where you see Pinot Noir vines… So, I’m packing a sweater.

In fact, anyplace where Pinot Noir grows well — Sonoma Coast, Monterey, Santa Barbara County, Carneros — if it’s summertime, have some warm clothes.  It is miserable having just shorts and a tee when the fog comes pouring into the Sta. Rita Hills … and just a few miles away, Santa Ynez is toasty!

Be warm and be sure to enjoy the wine!


       Did you know… that HALF of California wineries make LESS than 5,000 cases per year?

Time to salute California’s small family wineries this week during “National Small Business Week” in the U.S. of A.

These small family businesses are heart & soul of The California Wine Club.

And we can tell you, it feels FANTASTIC to support so many small wineries every year as we introduce their wine to our members all across America.

It feels great to be part of America’s jobs solution, too.

Because every sip CWC members take fires up the jobs engine in that bottle.  Every bottle makes it possible for family wineries to fill your glass with passion and artistry.

California’s small wineries provide paychecks for an amazing range of employees: winemakers, cellar workers, equipment repair, equipment sales, farm laborers, viticulture experts, irrigation experts, plant nurseries, lab techs, barrel makers, label designers, bottle makers, bottling line workers, shippers clerical staff, tour guides, tasting room workers, chefs, marketing analysts, marketing specialists, finance managers, real estate agents … and more!

So, uncork a bottle from one of California’s small wineries (hey, we can make that happen for you!)—and toast one of America’s most vibrant small business models: the family winery.

A Wine Country Travel Secret You’ll Want to Know!

Since we started The California Wine Club in 1993, we’ve made a ton of trips to wine country, from Temecula to Mendocino, Napa, Sonoma, Lodi, Santa Barbara and everywhere in between.

People are always asking us how they can make their wine country visit special…and here is one surefire way:

Stay at a winery!

Some regions, like San Luis Obispo County or Sonoma, have a variety of wineries offering lodging.

Some, like Napa, have almost none.

Call the local vintner’s association or visitors’ bureau…they can steer you right…

In the meantime, here are some of our top picks:

Landmark, Sonoma County

South Coast Winery & Resort, Temecula

JUST Inn, San Luis Obispo County

Rustridge Ranch, Napa County

Got any favorite winery stays to share?

Justin’s Just-Inn in Paso Robles, very close to Hearst Castle as the crow flies.Image

Shatter, Amepelography … We like fooling around with wine words

     Whether you play Scrabble or not, knowing wine words is fun. 

     There are a ton of wine terms… It’s fun to know a few to wow your friends with…

Here are a couple you might not know…

     Shatter:  If rain, hail or intense heat interrupts setting buds, grape loss or shatter occurs in the clusters.

     Amepelography:  The science of identifying the different types of grapes using descriptions of the vine and especially, the leaf.

Anyone have a third?

3 Easy Wine Tips

Wine should be fun, right?  That means, every time you open a bottle, or drink

wine, it should be a really pleasant experience.  Another

Here are THREE WINE TIPS to make sure wine is always a pleasure!

1.  Don’t store your wine in the kitchen!  Heat, changing temperatures and light will wear it down. Store wine in a dark, cool place on its side for best results.

2.  Wash your wine glasses in hot water only. No soap residue=great wine taste.

3.  Jot down your favorite wines, before you forget them. Keep a log, or a list … so many wines, so little time!