Trends and predictions for Temecula Valley Wine Country in 2020

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Experts from Temecula Wine Country say 2020 is going to be a good year for 2019 white wines and a big year for creative blends by local wineries. Valley News/Courtesy photo

We’ve talked with owners and winemakers from Cougar Vineyards and Winery, South Coast Winery and Devin Parr, brand marketing partner for Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country.

But others wanted to chime in on what promises to be another year of growth and expansion in the region.

Winemaker Tim Kramer from Leoness Cellars and Temecula Valley Wine Management is big on the whites from 2019.

“The white wines are really nice from the 2019 vintage,” he said. “Fruit forward, nice acidity and very vibrant. We are currently releasing our 2017 red wines, which was also a good vintage. The wines have nice structure and balance, and the oak has really integrated well with the wines. Overall, I’m really happy with the quality of wines we’re releasing at Leoness.”

He said variety is the spice of life in Temecula Wine Country.

“I think you’re continuing to see a lot of proprietary wines at many of the wineries, which is kind of cool,” Kramer said. “Guests can taste or buy a particularly unique blend at Leoness or other wineries that they can’t get anywhere else, and I think our visitors really enjoy that.”

He said they are always trying our new varietals, too.

“We’re always trying to fine-tune our repertoire of wines while maintaining consistency and familiarity,” Kramer said. “That being said we released our first varietal sauvignon blanc since 2007 with the 2019 vintage, and it’s really been a hit. We’re also tweaking some blends and just really trying to have something for everyone who walks through our doors.

“It seems our guests have very eclectic palates, so we’ve always offered a wide array of wines. Standouts for us have always been syrah, zinfandel, viognier and then our proprietary blends.”

Wiens Family Cellars winemaker Joe Wiens said their winery is looking strong for 2020.

“The 2017 and 2018 reds that have been blended and bottled are tasting great, and 2019 proved to be a great year for aromatic white wine varieties, giving us a very strong list for 2020,” he said. “We are seeing a continued interest in our blends, and vineyard designates. Our guests seem less concerned about grape varieties and are more interested in well-balanced blends that have a good story. The exception is our vineyard specific varietal wines that showcase our local terroir, proving that Temecula Valley wines can compete head to head with other renowned wine areas.”

Wiens said longtime favorites are always well admired.

“While obscure varieties like aglianico and dolcetto sell very well, we continue to see very strong sales, and interest in our chardonnay – recently awarded editor’s choice in Wine Enthusiast – and our selection of cabernet sauvignons that we offer,” he said. “While they may not be the most exciting varieties, it’s good to know that we can produce these classic varieties very well.”

As far as new varietals coming to the tasting room, there’s one he’s looking forward to serving.

“We will be releasing our first fiano, a refreshingly crisp and lesser-known Italian white varietal that does exceptionally well in our climate,” Wiens said.

As far as what he thinks will be strong this year, of course, Wiens points toward their reds.

“We lean toward full-bodied reds and should continue to see strong cabernet sauvignon sales, complemented by crisp, dry white wines like albarino and vermentino for our hot summer days,” he said.

Nick Palumbo of Palumbo Family Vineyards and Winery talked about the weather and how they deal with what has been a rather dry winter season so far.

“We had a good start early winter with plenty of rain but that has dried up a bit,” he said. “It is still too early to tell on this year but we have learned to make adjustments to whatever is thrown our way so should be fine no matter what the season brings.”

Palumbo is encouraged by the grapes that are producing in De Luz.

“My vineyards in De Luz, which is in the Temecula Valley AVA by the way, are producing well, and I am excited to continue production of local my tannat from my vineyards out there,” he said. “The area seems perfect for the varietal and am excited to release the wine later this year.”

He suggested a couple of Palumbo favorites for locals to try this year.

“As always, look for more great sangiovese from us, and if you really want to impress with a wine from Temecula, stop in and get our merlot,” Palumbo said. “I can’t tell you how many people that say they don’t like merlot rave about it in blind tastings. It’s the real deal.”

Sharon Canon, director of operations at Akash Winery, pointed out some trends that they are recognizing.

“We see guests are wanting more of an experience, not just a typical wine tasting visit,” she said. “They are becoming increasingly aware of the authenticity in how and where wines are made and seem to be more health-conscious than in previous years.

“And we see demand increasing for dry style rosé. It is gaining more traction as a serious wine to consumers.”

She has some suggestions for anyone taking a trip to the wine region.

“Wine lovers should pay serious attention to the increasingly good quality wines being produced in Temecula,” Canon said. “The region is exciting in that it doesn’t focus on just one varietal as a drawcard, it focuses on a handful of varietals that are exceptionally well made. In the wine, pay attention to all of the nuances in aroma and flavor across the different producers from the same vintages, which may not have previously revealed themselves from other years.”

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.