Raising your spirits at Mount Palomar Winery
By: Linda Kissam
Visitors may come to the trendy Temecula Valley Wine Country in Southern California for its well-known vino, but one of its winery’s harbors a hidden secret: a blossoming craft cocktail scene. Influenced by upmarket vineyards, fragrant citrus groves and the region’s rich agricultural abundance, Mount Palomar Winery’s restaurant Annata Bistro/Bar is serving up some new stellar spirit sips you’ll want to try.
Mount Palomar Winery was founded in 1969. For the past 47 years, this wine estate has dedicated itself to making wines and providing a unique visitor experience that reflect the distinctive terroir and vision of the Temecula Valley Appellation. Located at the top of winding driveway off of Rancho California Road Mount Palomar winery’s rolling topography reaches an elevation of 1400 feet. 55 acres grown over 20+ varieties of both red and white wines. Included in that mix is a charming outdoor Sherry Solera.
Enjoying a drink and a bite after your stroll around the lovely grounds is quite a treat. The new restaurant, now led by Chef Ron Chavez, was fashioned out of the ashes of the old Shorty’s Bistro. The restaurant still has a patio for outdoor dining, but there is comfort and beautiful views to be found inside. The Mediterranean inspired menu highlights includes estate-grown wine, fruit, lamb kabobs, steak and fries, and flatbread style pizzas. Warm marinated olives and crostini and made-from-scratch hummus and fried pita chips are must tries. Live music on the weekends has been added. Check the Website for days and times.
The bar program follows a new nation-wide wine country farm-to-flute mantra. Given the abundance of herbs, spices, and produce grown in and around Temecula Wine Country, paired with the publics never ending thirst for something new, it’s no wonder that creative cocktails are increasingly popular here. Guests can enjoy a few and pretend they’re getting their daily serving of fruit. Notable cocktails to try are the Pomegranate Martini and the Ginger Crush. The Pomegranate Martini is a mix of Tito’s Vodka, Triple Sec, pomegranate purée (made from property grown pomegranates), and house made sweet and sour, fresh orange. The Ginger Crush is made with muddled ginger and orange, gin, vanilla bean simple syrup, Italian blood orange soda and garnished with basil. Both are beautifully styled and presented in the appropriate cocktail glass.
While the new sips are fun and fancy, the real Mount Palomar magic is still found in the fields and production facilities. Under the direction of winemaker James Rutherford some 25 different grapes are grown on the property. About 10,000 cases of wine are produced each year. This presents a wide palate of 20 wines in the tasting room for guests to choose from and is a long time signature of the Temecula Valley Wine Country.
One of the earliest comments I can remember about the Temecula Valley is the “good news” and the “bad news.” The good news is that Temecula Valley can produce and sell a wide range of good wines. The bad news is that the Temecula Valley can produce and sell a wide range of good wines. With so many wines to choose from, no one wine has had a chance to shine. It’s really a shame, as Temecula could greatly benefit, in a promotional kind of way, for being known for a specific red and/or white wine. They do offer some extraordinary wines people should be coming for specifically. They also have some talented viticulturists nurturing the grape vines who should be recognized. Ben Drake comes to mind. Unfortunately, when you ask most people why they are going to Temecula, they often say because it is beautiful and a great place to relax and go wine tasting. My hope for this appellation is someday the group that is responsible for marketing the entire appelation will focus on what could really make the Temecula Valley appellation noteworthy in the world of wine rather than in the world of notable destinations.
Until then, this winery is a standout for innovation, vision, beauty and solid wine making. Take advantage of the 2 for 1 coupon link listed below. Print the coupon or show it on your phone and you’ll receive a two for the price of one wine tasting, valid Monday – Thursday from 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM in the Mount Palomar tasting room.
My Wine Recommendations
Annata White, $30. A white varietal blend that speaks to the joy of Southern California. It’s easy to drink and pairs well with poultry, cheese, any white sauces, and seafood. On the nose, think crisp yet fragrant with pear and apple notes. On the palate expect papaya, pear, and tangerine.
Shorty’s Bistro Red, $20. An award winning crowd pleasing red blend that changes slightly from year to year, but is consistently good. A deep garnet red, its notes of spiced prunes and soft violets are heaven. You’ll like the spicy tastes of cinnamon, dark chocolate dark cherry, black currents and a ribbon of raspberry. Pair with red meats, earthy mushrooms, robust red sauces, BBQ and Latin cuisine.
Solanus, Alcohol %18.2, $16.00. Made in their own onsite outdoor Solera, this is a late harvest style dessert wine made from Palomino grapes. Heady scents of butterscotch and vanilla with tastes of Bartlett Pear syrup and quince. The perfect holiday wine gift.
Mount Palomar has some great plans for itself. Keep watch for a new guest facility including additional restaurants, shops, and a world-class, wine country resort and spa and private estate homes. Keep informed by signing up to receive updates about Mount Palomar Winery special events, sales, new menu items, and more. It’s a fun place to “watch” for its innovative sips, creative foods, new facilities and good wine.
2 for -1 wine tasting coupons: Good Monday – Thursday: MountPalomarWinery.com/winechix