Sunshine covered the Temecula Valley yesterday for Easter Sunday. After attending church, my wife Laura and I drove down Rancho California road… first stop, Stuart Cellars. A large group was in there tasting, so Shirley took us to the back bar and poured for us. After sampling the Pinot Grigio and Viognier, we moved on the the reds, the Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel and then finishing with a real treat – the ’99 Tatria Meritage. We especially enjoyed the Cab Franc with a nice dark cherry on the back and the Zin. The Tatria was an unexpected treat. Our day was off to a grand start.
We took off for Wilson Creek Winery to see the petting zoo. I went to snap my first photo and discovered I had left my film cards at home. Thank goodness for the iPhone, as you’ll soon see. There were bunnies (of course), goats, turkeys, a pig and a macaw. The children were having the time of their lives. I walked into the tasting room, said a quick hello to Fay and we headed off for brunch at Thornton Winery.
As we were parking, we noticed that the Easter Bunny had just arrived. We strolled through the gift shop, walked over to Café Champagne and settled in for Easter brunch. The menu was filled with delicious dilemmas – Pork Osso Buco or Mixed Grill? Shrimp Salad with Mango Sauce or Spinach Salad? While we pondered our choices we ordered a bottle of Cuvée Rouge and asked Executive Chef Steve Pickell what he would recommend. “Everything’s good” was his not so helpful reply. I decided on the Spinach Salad as an appetizer and Laura went for the Carrot Ginger Bisque. Both were excellent. The salad had dried cherries, goat cheese, pancetta, hazelnuts and a Sherry Vinaigrette. The bisque had both candied and fresh ginger. The color was gorgeous.
For the main course I opted for the Mixed Grill with a Lamb T-Bone and Merguez Sausage. Laura chose the Alaskan Halibut with Clam Chowder Risotto. Steve is a thoughtful chef who clearly knows his stuff. The presentation was beautiful and the flavors sublime. Our waitress Joanie returned with yet more choices for us to make. Dessert! There were cheesecakes, Tiramisu, tarts, mousse and more. The Key Lime Tart was calling my name and Laura decided the White and Dark Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry sounded tasty. We left with smiles on our faces and full bellies.
We finished the day off with a quick stop at Oak Mountain Winery. Steve Andrews has been experimenting with some different oaks and wanted to get my opinion on what he’s been making. I tried the ’08 Grenache, Tempranillo and Cab Franc. I’ve got to say I’m a big fan of Steve’s Grenache and I’m looking forward to the ’08 release. What’s in barrel now is tasting very good. The Tempranillo and Cab Franc are a little farther away, but knowing Steve, they’re going to come up winners.