Over Valentine’s weekend, I had the opportunity to visit Monte De Oro Winery, one of the newest wineries in Temecula wine country.
My initial visit was a bust, as a few friends and I attempted to visit on New Year’s Day, only to find out the winery was closed when we arrived late in the afternoon.
Happily finding the winery open on February 13th, my friends and I parked in the dirt parking lot of the winery, and our group of six (including one very happy mama on her first day of wine tasting since the birth of her AMAZING baby boy) trudged up the pathway to find a beautiful winery packed with interested people on the day day before Valentine’s day that boasted 80+ degree weather.
Upon entering the foyer of the building we were met with two things: a man handing out carnations to every lady (a nice V-Day touch) and a fairly lengthy line at the register. Luckily, we arrived just as a register opened at the other end of the foyer and we paid for our tastings without a hitch– tastings were six for ten dollars, which seems to be the going rate around these parts.
With full-color tasting cards in hand, my husband and I sidled up to the absolutely packed tasting counter and proceeded to try each of the reds listed on our tasting card. The tasting card, I must say, is nice touch that isn’t often offered at the more popular wineries. The cards allow tasters to both keep track of what they’ve tasted and make notes that they may keep for future reference (or for help in buying a couple of bottles on the way out).
My husband began with the Cabernet Sauvignon, typically a favorite for both of us, and I began with the Merlot. The Merlot seemed to have come from a new bottle and would have likely been better had it been given more time to open. I found it to be slightly on the bitter side (especially for a Merlot) and I was happy to move on to the Syrah. The Syrah, (also known as Shiraz) was pleasantly peppery and a bit more savory than a typical Syrah, nevertheless, a pleasant tasting.
Moving on down the list, the Cab was lighter but still spicy upon first hitting the palate, but the aftertaste was almost soapy– likely due to the hint of bell peppers. The Zinfandel also had a hint of peppers, but was less bell-peppery and slightly fuller tasting.
The Cab Franc was by far my favorite wine, with a lighter-yet-full taste that hit the palate without leaving a bitter (or soapy, for that matter) aftertaste. Lastly, I tasted the “Synergy 65” –a Monte de Oro blend– but was turned off by the sweeter taste. Nevertheless, the Synergy blend (named for the 65 owners of the winery) is an award-winning wine.
Warm weather, good wine, and live music was all available on the patio and thus, we basked in the sun while enjoying covers of music from the nineties and our best friends.