South Coast Winery-A More Complete Picture
In one of my first blog entries I mentioned an anniversary trip that my wife and I had made to South Coast Winery in Temecula. After writing that post I noticed that the winery is active on Twitter, so I sent them a quick message and told them that I had mentioned them in my blog. Although I’m happy to share personal information on this blog I am hesitant to show personal family pictures-at least those that are so very personal as an anniversary trip…..at least showing those in my 2nd blog entry seemed a little soon.
I was surprised and very encouraged that South Coast took the time to respond both via Twitter. I asked them to send me a few more photos of their winery and resort since it is a unique place in Temecula and as I said before(and I really do believe) that it’s a great trip, especially for anyone from San Diego, the OC, LA or anyone visiting Southern California.
One thing that South Coast has brought up with me via email is that they were named the 09-10 Golden Bear State Winery of the Year, which is the second year in a row they’ve won the award.
I mentioned before that the resort itself is great, luxery villas, spa a very good restaurant on site etc. The thought of combining relaxation and leisure activities is certainly one way that South Coast and I see eye to eye.
Since this is a wine blog and my intention isn’t to ever sound like a PR person for a winery we need to take some time to discuss the wines themselves.
Let’s start with some general information, South Coast has only been producing wine for about 5 years now so for a winery it’s a young one. Additionally they really focus on the $15-$20 per bottle range….so obviously you’re not going to get a 100 point wine there.
What are you getting though?
Since I’m not blessed with an incredible palate and quite frankly everything tastes better when I’m there with my wife thoroughly enjoying myself I wanted to find an outsiders view of the wine. I found a nice review posted by Was Hagen who is the winemaker at Cois Pepe Vineyard in Santa Barbara and has written in more then a few publications about wine as a profession.
“The judges were put up at Jim Carter’s South Coast Winery Resort and Spa–which is absolutely spectacular. Very nice digs with a good restaurant and solid hospitality. The South Coast wines, vinted by Jon McPherson and his team, were also a standout. Their Sparkling Shiraz is an unapologetic slut of a wine and I drank most of a bottle myself in the hotel room the day before the competition began. Good match with some Ghost Recon 2 on the XBox 360 I snuck into the room.”
He goes on to state that Temecula winemakers are in an interesting predicament, their best wines are often not the best known wines around. I’ve seen a similar problem in the central coast of California(think Pinot Noir before Sideways)
“Almost all of Temecula Wines are sold in tasting rooms, and as a result they choose the ‘big’ varietals (Cabernet, Chardonnay, Syrah) that get attention, and off-dry and sweet styles (Gewurtz, Riseling, and Viognier being some of the best) that appeal to the tour-bus and amateur taster.
Temecula stands at a crossroads: do they want to make the BEST varietals suited for their region, struggle to teach the wine world about their choices, and take a hit in the pocketbook for a decade to be taken seriously, or do they want to make soft and slightly sweet wines that few ‘geeks’ will take seriously, and laugh all the way to the bank as they focus their business around casual tasters, events, weddings, limo and bus tours, etc.?
What varietals belong in Temecula? The best wines I drank were ‘fringe’ varietals. Petite Sirah and Tempranillo for Riverside County Fruit. The Cabs and Merlots were hard as nails and many had too much Brett(anomyeces) to be palatable. Interestingly, the San Diego County Bordeaux varietals showed much softer and palatable fruit character and were, as a rule, better wines.”
Not surprisingly I enjoy tasting in Temecula because the bold petite Syrah’s are a favorite of mine, maybe it is because I was introduced to port by my in laws as soon as I was of legal drinking age.
In conclusion he gives us some more information:
“Temecula represents a larger issue for all of us to consider. Sometimes that which sells easily, whether by leaving a wine sweet (like many in Temecula) or by trying to appeal to the ‘kingmaker critics’ keeps newer winegrowing areas from developing a true regional identity by producing well-matched varietal wines that showcase their somewhereness as opposed to masking it by virtue of sweetness or the ‘New World’/overripe style. It’s hard to convince a newer wine region to strut its ‘terroir’ in a wine culture where people buy ripeness and extract over craft, balance and elegance.
I had a blast wading through 200 wines in Temecula. Even my least favorites had something to teach, and the best wines were truly Gold Medal quality. Take time to go visit and taste. And if you like your wines a little dryer, or would like to see more Petite Sirah or Tempranillo, or Grenache Rose’, make sure to tell the staff, the owner or the winemaker.”
To me all of this reminds me of a few trips I’ve made overseas. Having been to both France and Italy fairly recently I can easily remember waking up on the train in Italy and not realizing that I was no longer in Southern California. If Temecula is able to focus on more Medeterrian style vintages as opposed to the Bordeaux style that is seemingly becoming more popular I do believe we may yet get the kind of high quality, affordable, local wine that everyone in Southern California is yearning for.