Wine of the Week

Bethany’s Wine Pick of the Week

Hart 2007 Grenache. Photo by Juanita Juarez.

What do you do when it is summertime, and you want a lighter wine, but it is not blisteringly hot, and red still sounds good? Hart Winery has the perfect light bodied, flavorful Red wine in their Grenache.

I was thrilled to pick a wine from Hart Winery. It is one of the oldest wineries in the Temecula Valley. Joe Hart, still the owner and winemaker, began planting grapes in 1974. Some of those original Cabernet Sauvignon vines still exist on the property, grafted now to produce Syrah.

My husband, Steve and I have lived in the Temecula Valley for a long time. We have been fortunate to drink many delicious local wines. As Wine Country is growing, there are more wonderful wines to drink all the time. Hart, small and quaint, the first winery as you enter Wine Country, on the north side of Rancho California Road could be overlooked, or forgotten about. That is a mistake. I myself forgot how much I love Hart wines.

Steve and I met my friend Juanita there for a tasting Thursday afternoon. As luck would have it, Jim Hart, Joe’s son, was behind the bar pouring. The four of us chatted about Temecula Wine Country’s long and colorful history.

Of the earliest wineries, Hart is the only one that is still family owned and operated.

“There is a certain pride when it is your name on the bottle,” Jim said.

That pride translates to consistently high-quality wine when the name on the bottle is Hart.

I like White, Red and Rosé wine and would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite. I feel like I often pick Whites or Rosé when it is my turn to pick the wine of the week. I am familiar with Hart’s illustrious history with Red wine, so I walked in with my mind made up to pick a Red. Jim didn’t make it an easy decision. The first wine he poured us as a Sauvignon Blanc. It was crisp, lightly acidic, and a little fruity. It tastes like an award winner, which in fact it is.

“It’s delicious,” I told Jim, “But do you have a Red that you would recommend for the summertime?”

“Try this,” he said pouring me a Red table blend called Driveway Red. The charmingly named wine is from the vines grown along the driveway that leads up to the winery. It is a classic Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. It is a field blend, meaning that once the grapes are harvested they are combined and fermented together. It had nice oaky tones, and a great mouth feel.

“I think I found the wine pick for this week,” I said.

“Let’s try the Grenache before you decide,” Juanita suggested.

Jim poured us a taste of the bright garnet wine. It had juicy cherry and dark berry flavors. The tannins were present, but delicate, as was the oak. It is a perfect summer red. The flavors of the Grenache are wonderful, light enough to drink on its own, but flavorful enough to pair with grilled meats.

“Aren’t you glad you waited?” Juanita asked.

There was no need to answer. Juanita knew I would pick the Grenache as soon as I tasted it. This wine may be the Roger’s house wine this summer.

Hart’s cozy tasting room, much the same as it has always been, encouraged Steve and me to loiter. In the course of loitering, and chatting with Jim and his adorable wife, Christine, we found out about the Pinot Noir grapes they are growing on the coast in Oceanside.

“Your kidding,” said Steve, a Pinot lover from way back, “what are you doing with them?”

Jim grinned. “We only have 10 cases, so we are only offering them to our Wine Club members.”

“Really?” I could see the wheels turning in my husband’s head.

“That’s right. We are having a Wine Club release party on Tuesday, with sliders and Pinot.”

With only four shipments of two bottles per shipment, it is a lower commitment wine club. It’s a good thing too, because now we are members. We will also be the happy owners of some of the only coastally grown Pinot Noirs in Southern California.

As we left, after petting Bosco, the large mellow winery dog, we promised ourselves we would not forget about Hart again. If you have forgotten about this small, premium winery, reacquaint yourself with Hart Winery. If you have never visited this founding Temecula winery, please do yourself a favor, and don’t visit another winery before you go in and taste some of the wines that put Temecula on the map.

Photo by Juanita Juarez.

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