Explore With Us

We, as wine enthusiasts, have a certain passion for life.  A passion for having unique experiences, making discoveries and then introducing and sharing those discoveries with our friends and family.

We in the wine business are a lucky bunch. We have the delightful responsibility of keeping abreast of trends in the industry. This often requires us to travel to different regions visiting vineyards, meeting with fellow winegrowers and tasting wines. Small wineries like to help each other by sharing what we’ve learned.

We really don’t see each other as competition, but rather brothers in arms trying to battle against Mother Nature in the vineyards and tame the mysteries of biology in the cellar. We know that there’s plenty of space in the world for great wines from different places. We all share the common bond of trying to emphasize the uniqueness of a particular varietal, grown in a particular place.

It’s this last idea, a particular varietal, grown in a particular place that is the cornerstone of a new series of wines we’re bringing exclusively to our Wine Club members. As part of our education we’ll blind taste five wines from five regions. For example we’ll taste Chardonnay from our estate, from wineries in Santa Barbara, Monterey, Napa and Sonoma.

What we’ve learned over the years is that there is no single best Chardonnay. There can be many best Chardonnays, just from different regions. Each is a unique expression of Chardonnay because of the terroir from the place it’s grown and the way that the winemaker chooses to emphasize that terroir.

A vineyard view of the Santa Rita Hills.

A vineyard view of the Santa Rita Hills.

Our new Explorer Series of wines will give our Wine Club members the same chance we at the winery have had to examine wines that are grown in other regions. Behind the scenes we’ve been partnering with growers and a custom crush winery up North to grow grapes and produce wines to our specifications. We’ve been making these wines at the highest quality level to deliver to you archetypal examples of a particular varietal, grown in a particular place. Each wine will be only be available for a limited time in limited quantities and then we’ll move on to another varietal from another place.

Greg sifting sediment during a coastal county trip.

Vineyard Manager Greg sifts sediment with his hands during a coastal wine country trip.

Gus sampling wine on coastal trip.

Wilson Creek’s Winemaker, Gus, sampling wine during a recent trip to the coastal wine country.

You will have fun comparing and contrasting the wine with a wine we already make here from our estate, like Chardonnay. In your special release July shipment you’ll get our 2014 Russian River Valley Chardonnay which is an archetypal cool climate Chardonnay. This wine will be exciting to compare to our brand new barrel fermented 2014 Family Reserve Chardonnay from our estate. We bottled both of these wines this past May and we think they’re both going to blow you away!
In other cases we’ll share with you a wine we don’t, or can’t, grow here at Wilson Creek – like Pinot Noir. Our Mediterranean climate isn’t well suited to growing Pinot fruit, so we’ve sourced some of the best stuff out there from Santa Rita Hills in Santa Barbara. The cult wines from this region are some of the most highly rated and you’re going to love our 2012 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir.

It’s taken us some time to get these wines together and you’ll see more of them in the fall. Without giving away all our secrets, get excited to taste things like intense and powerful Petite Sirah from the Sierra Foothills, crisp and fruity Sauvignon Blanc from Santa Barbara, Sparkling Shiraz just in time for the holidays, and even an Oakville Cabernet around a year from now.  We hope you join us on this journey of exploring great wines from great places!

How to survive Valentine’s Day

With only a couple days left til February 14th, I hope you’re not fretting about what to do. If you do happen to find yourself in that situation just remember one thing, KISS.
That’s right, KISS – keep it stupid simple!
Don’t know what I mean? Ok, let’s try this…

Beautiful day? CHECK! (if you happen to live in sunny SoCal you’re in luck, otherwise this one can be modified)

Large blanket? CHECK!

Mood music? – CHECK! Whatever floats your boat, or hers for that matter. (Long gone are the days of carrying around a boombox. Now we flip out our phones or tablets and VOILA!)

Basket? – CHECK! Filled with goodies of course. (baguette, crackers, cheese, grapes, strawberries, chocolate truffles)

2 stemmed glasses? CHECK!

Bottle of wine? CHECK! (or two)

Not sure what wine to get? No problem! These suggestions will help…
For white wine fans try,
a chilled bottle of Wilson Creek 2013 “Yes Dear” Chardonnay – afterall it is Valentine’s Day, “Yes Dear!!…”

For those who enjoy the sweeter side of life try,
a beautiful, chilled blue bottle of Wilson Creek 2014 White Cabernet Sauvignon

For those who are red hot at heart try,
a bottle of Wilson Creek Family Reserve 2012 Syrah

Fans of bubbles should try,
a chilled bottle of Wilson Creek’s new Sparkling Rose – she’ll be tickled pink!

and finally, if you enjoy the rich, luxe life try this extravagance in a bottle,
NV Late Harvest Chardonnay – a sipping delight!

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There you have it. Valentine’s Day done right. Just remember, KISS!
1 happy lady? CHECK!
1 lucky man? CHECK! (Well, maybe, the rest is up to you)

Craftsmanship & Craft Wines

“Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind.” -Johannes Brahms

For those of you who have been able to join us for a tour of the winery and vineyards, you know that we describe ourselves as a “Craft Winery.” For those of you who have not yet gone on a tour, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR??  The tours are about an hour in length, with numerous tastings for the same price as a normal tasting. A great deal and a great deal of fun!
Craftsmanship in winemaking is the artistic approach to making wine that achieves a unique expression in not only sensory qualities of  taste, smell and texture, but recognizes that the process encompasses and influences many aspects of community and ecology. Craft wines tell a story about where they came from and the people who made them. It may be impossible to define exactly what a craft wine is, but here are some aspects of people and place:

Authenticity: Family wineries are all the rage with marketing folks who want to put a personal touch on a business. This is an aspect that I don’t have to explain to anyone who has been to the winery. Gerry and Rosie Wilson, the elder statespersons of hospitality, infuse this place with such warmth and caring that it is not only a defining characteristic of the winery experience, but they make working here like having your coolest grandparents at work every day. The entire family works and plays here all the way down to Sarah Wilson, daughter of Mick and Deanna, who is our summer wine and soils lab assistant (at 9 years old and is a darn good assistant).

Passion: We are passionate about what we make because we know that you are passionate about what you drink.  We also know that you share our passion when the wine education classes, pairing events, and dinners sell out. Like us, you can’t learn enough about wine.

Character: Our wines have character because they are made by a collection of colorful characters. Come by and say “hi” to the winemaking or vineyard team and you will see what I mean.

Place: We are not making lowest common denominator wines to please the middle of the bell curve of the mass market. We make the most beautiful expression of Temecula Valley wines that we can and, in the process, expand the definition of what is possible from Temecula vineyards and cellars.

Community: Our definition of community is encompassing to include not only all of the people in our region but the ecosystems that support us all. Our commitment to biologically sustainable vineyard practices are specifically targeted at the improvement of wine quality, but are also part of our long-term commitment to being valuable contributors to the sustainability and improvement of quality of life for all of our fellow community members.

I hope you can come join us for a glass of the 2013 “Yes Dear” Chardonnay which is developing a beautiful smooth texture, our 2013 Muscat which may surprise you by its amazing bouquet but is drier than most Muscats, the new Duet which has been getting rave reviews from our cellar tastings, or our rich blend of fruit and soft tannins from the 2011 Malbec. The vineyard is setting fruit nicely this year, the cellar is flowing with great wines, and the winemaking team is overflowing with our enthusiasm for the opportunity to share our passion of the people and place we express by sharing a glass of wine with you.

Wishing you warm days and cool nights, Greg, aka, Bioman

Corky Beginnings

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, as an employee of Wilson Creek winery is that you will not find a surplus of corks floating around the Creek; Wilson Creek that is. Have you ever wondered what we do with all that popped cork?

On any given day bottles of wine and champagne are opened and shared among visiting guests looking for the ultimate tasting experience. Many of the wine corks are taken by the next future Mrs., to be transformed into a creative centerpiece for their wine country themed wedding reception.  Wondering what else do we do with leftover corks, just ask Event Manager, Jeff Littrell. Every year in the spring, the wineries in Temecula Valley compete in a cork sculpture contest, during the “World of Wine” tasting event. And every year Jeff wows us with his cork masterpieces! This year he created a giant, cork wine glass that continuously pours red wine. Last year Jeff created the winning cork sculpture, a fierce lion coming out of the top of a wine barrel with paws and claws ready to pounce. The year before that he constructed the leaning Tower of Pisa. It’s amazing what you can do with a little cork, glue and imagination.

We’ve had our fair share of fun with the used corks but by far the most authentic idea was fashioned by the matriarch of the winery herself, Rosie Wilson.  The story as Rosie tells it was in the summer of 2000 at the Balloon and Wine Festival, at Lake Skinner, in Temecula CA. It was the first year the Wilson family was able to share their newly vintage wine.  The popped corks from these bottles had not yet served a purpose until the Wilson kids came across some yarn, had decided to make cork necklaces to give to anyone who tasted their wine that day. This gesture sparked conversation about their life changing decision to quit their day jobs, move to Temecula, make wine and the opening of their new winery. The guests were told that if they stopped by the winery wearing their cork necklaces they would get a free wine tasting.

To this day Rosie Wilson makes hundreds of cork necklaces for guests who are celebrating a special occasion. The next time you find yourself at the winery and are celebrating your birthday or anniversary, let the Wilson Creek staff and family help you celebrate. After all, Rosie Wilson thinks everyone deserves to get corked on their special day! -by Barb Hilde, Wine Club Mgr

The creator of our cork necklaces wearing a few on her birthday. Rosie still makes all of our cork necklaces by hand.

The creator of our cork necklaces wearing a few on her birthday. Rosie still makes all of our cork necklaces by hand.

A NOAT FRUM MOLLY MERLOT

Molly in tutu and hi-tops.

2day az I wuz grayzing on the grass in the frunt yard uv the winery, I thot abowt whut a lucky pig I am. 

Todae wuz a beeyootifull sunny day, end ther wur lawts of kids ther 2 play with me. The panzees wur in blume, so I got 2 hav a tayst or so when my mom wuzn’t wautching me.  I had on my noo Easter hat that my frend Judy mayd 4 me, so I wuz reely stylish, end I lookd and smelld reel pretty, becuz I had a bath this moarning.  Judy mayks awl kinds uv owtfits 4 me – wedding, patryotic, awtum, Hal-o-ween, Valintyns, end uthers.  I lyk the hats, but I giv my mom a bad tym when she trys to put a tootoo on me.  I lyk 2 go 2 wurk at the winery, but thay woant let me go in2 the resturaunt, becuz thay say pigs Rnt aloud….but it awl smels sooooo gud!  (Dawgs Rnt aloud eether, so that seems fayr 2 me.)

Mi dawg frends Cabby and Chianti wur ther 2 hav the kids pet them, 2.  Chianti lyz on his bak end grins, end sumtyms he also duz a danss with hiz bak legs.  Cabby looks  at U with hiz big broun I’s end evry1 thincks he iz so cyoot.  I hoap that evry1 nos that pigs R smartr end cleenr than dawgs!

Bacchus Loves Biology

Environmental Sustainability and Improved Winemaking

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Greg Pennyroyal, who Bill Wilson, of Wilson Creek Winery, dubbed “Bio-Man”, is the Enology and Viticulture Coordinator at Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards.

At Wilson Creek Winery and Vineyards we recognize that environmental sustainability and improved winemaking go hand-in-hand.  In a major new initiative, winemaker Etienne Cowper, and owners, Bill and Mick Wilson, have created a new position of Enology (winemaking) and Viticulture (wine grape growing) Coordinator.  Traditionally Vineyard Manager and Assistant Winemakers have been separate positions.  Etienne Cowper realized the best way to elevate winemaking in the Temecula Valley was to bring the art and science of winemaking more directly into the vineyard. To that end Greg Pennyroyal, a former medicinal plant agronomist (crop scientist) with over 25 years experience in biological agriculture, was chosen for the unique position of Viticulture and Enology Coordinator, to increase the biochemical complexity and consistency of the grapes through increased biological techniques of vineyard management.  In just six months vineyard cultural practices have changed substantially.

Cowper and Pennyroyal have reduced synthetic fertilizer inputs by 50% and will be using 100% sustainable biological nutrient inputs in the vineyard in one year. Cover crops of oats, barley, peas and vetch have replaced the valley’s standard practice of between row tillage and wild flowers have been planted to attract beneficial insects. This not only reduces erosion but the peas and vetch will provide natural sources of nitrogen for the grapes. In-row herbicide use is being reduced by 75% with the addition of seaweed extracts, and fish emulsion to increase the herbicide effectiveness and most importantly, to decrease the time for natural decomposition of herbicides by up to five times. With improved microbiological soil balancing and natural nutrient supplementation it is the goal of the vineyard management to eliminate all herbicide use within two years.  We are also switching to a program of all natural fungicides. Powdery mildew and bunch rot are a major problem in all grape growing regions. We are now employing natural fungicides including dormant oils, sulfur, calcium carbonate, and biological inoculation. Often, natural fungicides are not strong enough to stop fungal infection so we are initiating a program of compost tea foliar feeding (feeding plants through the leaves as opposed to the roots) which will not only minimizes the need for synthetic chemical fungicides but also improves the density and complexity of the fruit leading to improved wine quality.

 

Dessert Anyone?

Here’s a fun little dessert recipe from the Creekside Grille at Wilson Creek Winery.

Individual mascarpone cheesecake torte with poached quince and pomegranate seeds

Individual mascarpone cheesecake torte with poached quince and pomegranate seeds

Mascarpone Cheesecake Torte with Walnut Crust, Poached Quince & Pomegranate Seeds

This dessert is great for the holidays and can turn any occasion into a special one! Makes 11 individual desserts.

CRUST
2 cup toasted walnut halves and pieces
1 cup light brown sugar
½  cup clarified butter
Finely mince the walnuts. Mix with the brown sugar and butter. Coat the inside of individual size springformpans with cooking spray or shortening. Press about ½ inch of the walnut mixture into the bottom of each pan. Bake for 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Cool completely.
CHEESECAKE
20 oz. cream cheese
8 oz mascarpone cheese
¾ cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
Cream together the cheeses and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time and mix until incorporated. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour the mixture into the springform pans over the walnut crust. Bake for 15 minutes or until cake springs back to the touch. Let cool before removing from the pans.
 
POACHED QUINCE
4 quince, peeled, cored and diced
2 cup water
2 cup sugar
2 cup sweet white wine
1 vanilla bean
Bring water, wine, sugar and quince to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the quince is softened. Remove the quince from the liquid and reduce the liquid over high heat to syrup. Pour syrup over the quince and refrigerate.
AMPLE AMOUNT OF POMEGRANATE SEEDS
Apply seeds to liking on top of cheesecake and quince.
Don’t forget to serve with a chilled glass of Almond Champagne!

A Winemaker’s Journey

I recently returned from my vacation, which was a wine pilgrimage of sorts. We first visited a most unique and beautiful wine-growing region located on the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. The wines were unique in many respects. Most spectacular were many of the vineyards that clung to impossibly steep limestone slopes that started several hundred feet up at the top and nearly reached the Adriatic Sea at the bottom. This is the home of the Plavac Mali CachedSimilarYou +1’d this publicly. Undo

Grape, which is genetically identical to our California Zinfandel. The vines are not irrigated and depend on what moisture their roots can find deep in the limestone soils. The concentration of these red wines is incredible. Some are so dense that they must be blended with wines produced from vineyards located in less stressful conditions to make an approachable wine. A delightful fragrant white wine made from the Posip grape comes almost exclusively from island of Kortula. The grapes are grown on the island and shipped by boat to wineries on the mainland. Through the hospitality of our hosts, Andro Crvik and his family (Crvik Winery), we were able to visit many of the wineries in the area.

The next part of our European wine adventure was is the Rhine region of Germany. This time we were taken in and hosted by Heribert and Sybille Erbes. Their winery in the village of Spiesheim (Weingut Erbes, Rheinhessen) has been in the family since the 1600’s. I learned a great deal about German wines from Heribert. Like in Croatia the perhaps most important element in making top quality German wines results from the meticulous care of the grapes. In our travels we were treated like family by our winemaker hosts and established relationships that will last a lifetime. The most important lesson I learned as a winemaker is that no matter where you make wine, producing the best grapes is the key to making the best wines.

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Etienne Cowper (lft), of the U.S., and Heribert Erbes (rt), of Germany, meet for the first time, face to face, after years, 37 to be exact, of corresponding back and forth about wine and life. Here is an article (in German) about the two winemakers: http://www.allgemeine-zeitung.de/region/alzey/vg-woerrstadt/spiesheim/12237466.htm 

September is California Wine Month

Glass of Almond

A cool glass of Almond Champagne on a warm summer day…ahhh!

In the wine world we like to think that every month is wine month, but more specifically, September is recognized as California Wine Month. What does this mean you ask? It’s your free pass to drink more wine this month, from California that is!

Here at Wilson Creek Winery, we are honoring this wonderful month by serving  a glass of  delightful sparkling wine with every entree purchase at the Creekside Grille. (Don’t see this advertised anywhere, that’s ok, just mention this to your server and they’ll know what to do) Cheers!

Check out this fun article from the North County Times about California wines, wineries and Temecula…

WINE COUNTRY NOTES: It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Oh My Gosh!

What do Temecula Valley’s Wine Country and Wilson Creek Winery have in common? They are home to the famous,”Oh My Gosh” Almond Champagne!

If you’ve never had it, you HAVE to try it! If you’ve had it, then you know what I’m talking about. We call it the “Oh My Gosh” champagne because that is the typical impression a person gets when trying it for the first time. Temecula Valley ChampagneThis stuff is so good that people from all over the country have it shipped out for special occasions and everyday happenings alike.

Definitely a popular choice for wedding toasts, I know a couple who drove from central California to Temecula just to fill their convertible Mini Cooper to the brim with cases of Almond Champagne for their daughter’s wedding. Now if that isn’t love, I don’t know what is!

Almond champagne is wonderful on its own, but goes great with other things as well. Next time you’re in the area and decide to visit us try the Almond-tini in a chocolate cup. A favorite around here, the Almond-tini is Almond Champagne mixed with a bit of our Decadencia (chocolate port dessert wine), served in an edible Dutch chocolate shot glass – Salut! Then there’s the Almond Slushie, our version of a frozen margarita, so to speak, minus the tequilla, add Almond Champagne and voila! The Almond Slushies are heaven-sent in the warm, Temecula summer months.

We love this champagne so much that we wanted to make it easy for you to get no matter where you are. So now you can find our Almond Champagne, along with our Peach Bellini (Almond Champagne and natural peach flavorings) and Orange Mimosa (Almond Champagne and natural orange flavorings), in 23 states! If you’re a California resident you may see us on the shelves of a Costco, Vons, BevMo, Albertson’s, and Walmart (to name a few) near you.