When you think “wine,” which of our 50 states comes to mind first? Of course, the answer is California. While most states now have wineries, California produces the most and arguably the best wine. (Yes, I know this point could be debated, but no one can deny that California wine is outstanding.) September is the most active month for wineries in California because that’s when most grapes are harvested, crushed and moved into the fermentation process. That’s why September is California Wine Month, which is celebrated all over the state. You can learn more about statewide celebrations at DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com.
The Temecula Valley Wine Country is celebrating along with the rest of the state. This popular, growing wine region is an easy drive from almost anywhere in San Diego, Riverside or Orange counties. The area’s wineries celebrate in a variety of ways, but the premiere event is the 4th Annual CRUSH Gala which will be held on Saturday, September 14, from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at Callaway Vineyard and Winery. This is the only opportunity visitors have each year to partake of 35 Temecula wineries in one setting. Sponsored by the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association, this event offers wine samplings from all 35 wineries; gourmet cuisine from 18 local chefs, farms and restaurants; and outstanding live music to spark up the evening. Music will be provided by the Michael LeClerc Band. All-inclusive tickets are $75 per person. Overnight packages and wine tours are also available. For more details or to purchase tickets go to TemeculaWines.org and click on Events.
I have attended this glorious event for the past two years and can attest that it is a magical evening—that is if you like sipping stellar wine, snacking on delectable treats, listening to joyful music, and just mingling with old and new friends. The camaraderie is contagious. Callaway’s venue provides a particularly beautiful setting with breathtaking vistas on its expansive outdoor patio surrounded by rolling hills of grapevines.
Grapes are crushed to extract the juice. Many of us can recall the hilarious fun Lucy and Ethel had stomping grapes on what may be the most famous “I Love Lucy” episode, but now grapes are almost all crushed mechanically or sometimes with a wine press. Yet there is a rich history of grape stomping with feet, which goes back to the Roman Empire in 200 BC. Throughout history, grape stomping gatherings have been an essential step in the wine producing process and usually involved joyous if not raucous celebrations. Some wineries now actually allow their guests to stomp grapes but only for fun, not to really make wine. Crush events, such as Temecula Valley’s, are meant to celebrate the wine production process and to have a great time with friends. That’s what CRUSH is all about.
Another way to celebrate California Wine Month in Temecula is to purchase a Sip Passport, which is valid from September 1st to 30th. Tickets are $35 per person and include full tasting flights at any four of the 35 participating wineries. The lovely Temecula Creek Inn and the charming Inn at Europa Village offer discounted Sip & Stay packages throughout September. Sip & Ride packages are available through Grapeline Wine Tours, Sunset Limo or West Coast Chauffeur. For more details or to purchase tickets, go to Temeculawines.org and click on Events.
Stay tuned for an in-person report on CRUSH on Sept. 14 or maybe I’ll see you there.