When you think of wine regions producing great Pinot Noir, the Sonoma coast, Russian River, Santa Barbara, and the Willamette Valley typically come to mind. You now can add the Temecula Valley to that list.
One of the biggest surprises of the 9th annual Pinot Noir Shootout is Woodworth Vineyards, a micro-winery in the De Luz hills west of Temecula that is making a very big name for itself.
Woodworth’s 2008 Pinot Noir is among 64 top wines to be featured at the blind tasting portion of the Pinot Noir Summit to be held in San Francisco on Feb. 26. The wines were culled from more than 360 competing wines from the United States, France, Italy, Australia and New Zealand. Since October, Pinot Noir experts have been evaluating and selecting the best Pinots for the final tasting event at the Summit.
Woodworth is the only winery in the Temecula Valley wine-growing region to produce a still wine from Pinot Noir grapes grown in its own vineyard. “In general, Southern California is too hot to grow Pinot Noir,” said Marlene Woodworth, co-owner. “But we’re blessed with a great micro-climate here in De Luz that gives us warm days but very cool nights coupled with coastal fog in the mornings, a good combination for Pinot.”
The climatic diversity of the Temecula Valley wine growing region surprised quite a few.
“I was shocked and pleased,” said Barbara Drady, Pinot Noir Summit organizer and wine evangelist. “Based on how good the wine is, the appellation is a surprise and I think you’ll have some fun converting some Pinot Lovers that don’t think it’s possible to make a delicious Pinot from Temecula.”
Other wineries in the Temecula Valley use grapes from other vineyards to make Pinot and a small number of Pinot grapes go into making a sparkling wine, but Woodworth is the lone winery to control production from the vine to bottle.
Described as the “most romantic of wines,” the 2008 Pinot Noir ($33) from Woodworth has notes of bright cherry and little bit of spice followed by a big berry taste accentuated by soft tannins and a lingering finish with smoky hints of tobacco.
The Woodworths purchased 45 acres in De Luz in 2000. Eight acres are planted with grapes, including nearly 3 acres devoted exclusively to Pinot Noir. The Pinot vines were grafted onto Syrah, Carmenere, and Cabernet Sauvignon root stock over the last five years. Woodworth Vineyards also produces Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot, a white Merlot (Golden Maggie), a blend of Chardonnay and Muscat (Sweet Sophie) and a red blend (Black Dog). You can learn more about Woodworth Vineyards at www.WoodworthWine.com.
Woodworth’s 2008 Pinot Noir is available at The Wine Collective, an intimate two-story tasting room at 28544 Front Street in Temecula’s Old Town that features a spectacular up-lit onyx wine bar and cozy bench seating for patrons. The Collective is open Wednesday-Thursday from 3 to 10 p.m., Friday-Saturday from noon to 12 a.m. and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m. For more information call (951) 693-4567 or (951) 699-8896 or go to www.tvwinecollective.com.