We continue our second week along the De Portola Wine Trail, and the wines, service and scenery remains stellar. This week we move a little further back on De Portola, but not to worry…it’s only a few miles and well worth it.

DANZA DEL SOL WINERY – Stopping in at Danza del Sol was a lot of fun. Especially since I was not expected. But no problem, they found me a great table with a beautiful view, and I set about my “work”. For the first time in a while, 2 of my samples were whites. (I actually had a 4th unauthorized taste, and it was white as well 😀)

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2020 Sauvignon Blanc –
Grapefruit and pear on the nose. Grapefruit on the pallet with a hint of lemon. Very well balanced with a lovely finish
2018 Tempranillo –
Light berries and herbs on the nose. Black cherries and dark berries on the pallet with mellow tannins that slowly fade. Delicious
2018 Gewurztraminer –
Floral aromas and fresh cut melon. Tastes of allspice and honeydew. Finish melts into the pallet. Sweetness is quite tame

My server Nikki was awesome. Knowledgeable, fast on the pour and she laughed at my jokes, what more can I say…she’s genius 😂
Make this winery a part of your plan when visiting the “back” of the De Portola Trail🍷

FRANGIPANI ESTATE WINERY – A fairly low-key winery towards the back of the De Portola Wine Trail. Like many of the wineries on the north side of De Portola, outside views are excellent. Things were very quiet on my midweek visit, so I had a little time for my tastings

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2019 Sauvignon Blanc –
Aromas of pink grapefruit and lemongrass. Nicely citrusy on the pallet, just the right amount of “tang” with a slightly creamy feel. Finish fades quite well
2017 Grenache –
Estate grown. Ripe dark berries and fresh herbs on the nose. Black cherries and a light coating of tannins on the pallet,

that tingle through the finish
2017 Cab Franc –

Estate Grown. Aromas of anise and a little suntan lotion (non-scented). Plums and some allspice on the pallet. Very light tannins that complement the finish quite well

Nice atmosphere and very casual service (in a good way) Feel like this is one of those locals’ favorites. Never crazy crowded but delivers the goods. Give it a try next time you’re in the area

COUGAR VINEYARDS AND WINERY – I can’t help but feel a little sad as I wind down on, not only my visits on De Portola, but the 45 in 45 Project as well. Cougar Vineyards and Winery, like many of the De Portola Trail wineries, sits atop a hillside and offers beautiful views of that part of the valley. Cougar specializes in Italian varietals and blends (there’s been a few of those recently) So as I settled into my “tasting chair”, I looked forward to experiencing the difference from other local wineries with similar wines

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2017 Estate Miscuglio del Circolo – Predominately Sangiovese with Montepuliciano. Fairly light aromas of red berries, sage and brown sugar. Fresh raspberries and coffee on the pallet and light clingy tannins

2017 Sangiovese –
Gorgeous garnet color with a tinge of rust. Similar to the Estate Micuglio (which is predominately Sangiovese) but leaning more towards the red fruit characteristics in both aroma and taste. There is a hint of anise and thyme. This wine had some of the fruitiest tannins I’ve experienced in a while. Nice mellow finish

2017 Barbera –
Earthy and raisiny with some orange rind on the nose. Ripe plums on the pallet with light tannins. A long and elegant finish

Mary, the lovely and knowledgeable manager (the one with the unfortunate task of putting up with my requests😄) could not have been sweeter. Special thanks to her for my tour and her invaluable assistance, With a number of wineries producing excellent Italian wines, perhaps I should put together a suggested day trip, featuring them. Cougar serves up elegant wines, beautiful views and service as well as tasty bites at Sangio’s Deli. Look for the “Italian Tour” soon. Ciao!

MASIA DE LA VINYA WINERY – Had an absolutely fantastic time at Masia de la Vinya Winery, the last stop on the De Portola Trail (or is it? 🤫) Being joined by the Beautiful Blonde Trio certainly didn’t hurt @kellyaxelrad @hannah_decanted @fitwithwine. As many of the De Portola wineries are, Masia is located with a great view of the area and possesses that peacefulness that makes a trip to a winery so memorable. Aside from each other’s company, we enjoyed a delicious charcuterie spread and some terrific wines

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2019 Verdelho –
Rich aromas of fresh peaches and melons. Taste is rich and full with plenty of stone fruits and juicy cantaloupe on the finish

2017 Malbec –
Interesting juicy fruit gum aroma. Red berries on the pallet with a tinge of prune. Nice, sustained finish

Magrana –
Pomegranate sparkling. Not sweet at all with a pomegranate aroma (duh!) and some strawberries along with the pomegranate on the pallet. Bubbles are present but not over the top. Nice change of pace choice for a celebration

Danza Del Sol and Masia de la Vinya are operated by the same owner. I invite you to stop in sometime soon and compare the two. Some similarities but some fairly substantial differences. Cheers!

PALUMBO FAMILY VINEYARDS – Tucked up on a small rise between Rancho California Rd and De Portola and just off Monte De Oro Rd, Palumbo Family Vineyards is a quiet little enclave just waiting to be visited. A few quiet tables and some bar top seats allow you to view the vineyards as you sip your samples. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what I did

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2015 Estate Sangiovese –
Milk chocolate and tobacco on the nose. Some light tannins with black cherries and raisins on the pallet. Moderately lengthy finish

2016 Cab Franc –
Aromas of green bell peppers and herbs. Some light clingy tannins with thyme and plum on the pallet. A somewhat lengthy finish

Tre Fratelli (Meritage) –
Very Bordeaux in both aroma and taste. The Merlot certainly smoothes out the “edges” of the Cab Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Tannins are very minimal. Briefly fruit forward but then recedes somewhat quickly to a balanced taste more earthy taste and finish

Palumbo is only open Friday – Sunday and during the week by appointment only, so be sure to plan accordingly. As it’s just down the road from Wilson Creek, it may make a nice contrast to hordes that converge there each weekend😀Salute!

BRIAR ROSE WINERY – Briar Rose Winery is unlike any other in the Temecula Valley. With its Disneyesque structures and massively bold wines, owners Larry and Katie Linkogles provide a temporary escape from the fast-paced world, The peaceful grounds, laid back atmosphere and subtle breezes can’t help but lull one into relaxed state. This, however, was contrasted quite nicely by the unique and striking wines I tasted on my recent visit

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Briar Rose Fume –
Aromas of baking spices and dried fruits. Cooked fruit with cinnamon on the pallet delivering a somewhat lengthy finish, especially for a rose. Very unique

2012 Tempranillo –
A very bold aroma of anise with rich plums and spices. A strong taste of spice and herbs with punchy tannins resulting in a lingering finish of crushed raisins

2003 Cabernet Sauvignon –
Oak barreled for 18 years then bottled at more than 21% ABV. Strong velvety fruit notes capture the nose. Prune with light baking spices on the pallet and a never-ending finish. Unbelievably mellow tannins ride through the entire finish. Wow!

I’m not going to go so far as to say a tasting at Briar Rose is magical, but it certainly is special. The service is warm and friendly, resulting in one of those hard to forget experiences. I suggest you make a reservation one of these weekends and spend some time enjoying wine the “Briar Rose way”