Someone once said that God draws straight with crooked lines. You could say this is something of a theme in Tesoro Winery’s history. Carl “Buzz” & Kimberly Olson clearly have the faith it takes to trust that life is a journey that sometimes meanders a bit off of the original path. The Olson’s have long dreamed of developing a Bed & Breakfast-Villa on their vineyard property, but spent the past few years focusing on creating premium Mediterranean style wines to serve at their Old Town Temecula Tasting Room and Urban Barrel Room.
The Urban Barrel Room is a charming location for private parties from two (anyone looking to pop the question, wink-wink?) to sixty people. Event planner, Cathy Lyle, is available to help coordinate anything from a simple DIY gathering to a full-blown catered affair. The slightly industrial feel is easily softened with the right homey touches and the room has wonderful acoustics for live music. A small group of media friends and I had the pleasure of experiencing the Urban Barrel Room first hand at a wine and tapas evening with the Olson’s and their winemaker, Etienne Cowper.
The evening began with a sample of some of Tesoro’s sparkling wines that are to be released in the months to come. I admit I will be waiting outside their doors the day they release the passionfruit sparkling wine – divine! As we enjoyed our sips, Rocky Osborn entertained us with a close up magic show. Rocky has an amazing set of card tricks and wonderful comedic timing, so we thoroughly enjoyed our time with him. He performs at the Tesoro Tasting Room in Old Town Temecula every Saturday from 4:00 p.m. until close. This family friendly show is a must-see as you enjoy your glass of wine.
The theme of the evening was the Rhone Zone and featured Tesoro’s stunning line up of Mediterranean style reds. We soon settled in to our first plate: a lovely puff pastry with ham and caramelized onion. Dorothy Blandi, owner of Artists’ Gourmet Cafe, was our chef for the evening and she spoke a bit about each dish as we enjoyed our courses. The ham and onion of the pastry were a lovely compliment to the bright berry flavors and earthy notes of the 2007 Elio Doro served along side. As with many of Tesoro’s wines, the name Elio Doro (translated “gift of the sun”) was chosen during a “Fun First Friday” contest. Treasure Chest Wine Club members meet each first Friday to share wine, get to know one another, and sometimes compete to name the next bottle on it’s way into production. It is this sense of collaboration and community that makes Tesoro feel more like a family than just a local purveyor of wine.
Our second course was my favorite of the night and, as luck would have it, Chef Dorothy sent us each home with a copy of the recipe. Please enjoy her simple preparation of a simply fabulous Smoked Salmon with Polenta. The fire roasted corn and fresh avocado were balanced perfectly by blood oranges and citrus olive oil from Temecula Olive Oil Company. Winemaker Etienne Cowper chose to offer a 2007 Mourvedre with this dish. The wonderfully herbal nose and lush plum flavors complimented the smoke of the salmon and corn beautifully.
I just love to listen to a winemaker talk about wine. Intelligence and passion are both required to produce amazing wine and Cowper has both. He believes in letting the grapes tell their own story and allows the best of what is inherent in each varietal shine through. His talent lies in blending wines to create balanced flavors that will please the palate. In his view, creating exceptional wine is much like cooking: balance = pleasure. Given that Tesoro produces around 1000 cases a year, they have the luxury of letting the wine mature in the bottle for over two years before it is released. So without much intervention or manipulation, Etienne creates synergy from the best of each wine and the results are exceptional.
Tesoro’s 2007 Syrah was poured along side our next course: a lamb skewer served with garlic mashed potatoes in an artichoke cap. The wine and the dish are both on my list of things to serve at my next dinner party. The richness of the artichoke with garlic mashed potatoes was balanced by sage and cherry flavors of the wine, while the lamb and rosemary were enhanced by the spice and earthy notes so often found in a wonderful Syrah.
Did I say the salmon was my favorite dish? Allow me the grace to call a tie with our final course. The dark chocolate cherry petit four with a cherry and port wine reduction was truly amazing. The Tribordo Port made the whole experience a heavenly finish to a wonderful meal.
Although I could talk for hours about food and wine (just ask my poor husband), my favorite part of our evening was getting to know Buzz and Kimberly Olson. Their love for food, wine, the community and each other is clear in every word and gesture. These are the kind of souls who remember you and your children and are genuinely interested in what is going on in your life. As such, they are ideally suited for the next step in Tesoro Winery’s journey. They are soon to close escrow on the Castle Bed & Breakfast and will finally have the opportunity to make their dream a reality. Dubbed Castellini di Tesoro, the 27 acre property will include a winery, tasting room, guest accommodations and more. I predict many long and delightful hours of shared wine and conversation therein and cannot wait to be a part of it.
In the meantime, Buzz and Kimberly throw great parties at the Tasting Room and Urban Barrel Room. Next up is a Guy’s Night Out with Vince Ferragamo on December 4. Barrel tasting, barbecue, cigars and highlights from Super Bowl XIV: sounds like a great way to spend an evening! For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit: http://vincefarragamotesoro.eventbrite.com.
Tasting Room – 28475 Old Town Front Street, Temecula, CA
Kimberly Vineyards and Future Winery Site – 35911 Rancho California Road, Temecula
Urban Barrel Room – 43162 Blackdeer Loop, Temecula
Artists’ Gourmet Cafe – Dine in and catering – 41790 Winchester Rd, Temecula