Wilson Creek Blog
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What would go through your mind if you were told that in five years from now
you would be running your own winery and living in Wine Country?
Here lies the story of one South Pasadena couple and their adult kids who made a dramatic change.
In 1995, retired Gerry and Rosie Wilson were planning a move to Solvang to be closer to their daughter Libby and her husband Craig. Their son Bill called Rosie & Gerry one day to ask them if they wanted to buy a winery, and they told him he was crazy but it sounded like fun! Bill reminded them that they made dandelion and rhubarb wine in Minnesota. Rosie’s reply was, “I don’t think that qualifies us.” Bill found out about a small affordable winery for sale and thought it would be ideal for the Wilson family. The family visited and emotions quickly took over. They absolutely fell in love with the concept and decided to figure out a way to make it work. They sold their homes, quit their jobs and moved to Temecula to pursue a business in which they had no previous experience. Many of their friends thought they were crazy! After Rosie & Gerry re-located, the owner of the small winery decided not to sell. Not wanting to give up their vision, it forced the family to frantically look for another winery or existing vineyard. They found and purchased an existing vineyard and “planted” a building. They moved into “Operation Bootstraps” mode. Gerry says, “All of us rolled up our sleeves and did whatever it took to make it happen. Our saying was, if you are a Wilson, you only have to work half days and you can decide which 12 hours you want!”
With no real background in vineyard management or winemaking and no winery built at the time, they relied on local experts in Temecula Valley to guide them. They hired a winemaker and vineyard consultant while Gerry and Bill enrolled in some winemaking classes at UC Davis. Bill drove the tractor and oversaw wine production and maintenance of the vineyard. It was quite a different lifestyle than the suit and tie lifestyle Bill and Gerry were used to, but they LOVED it!
Through hard work, perseverance & determination, they opened for business in 2000. What the Wilson family brought to Temecula was a warm family environment and a history of throwing great parties. They built a winery which today is known as the “fun winery.”
Wilson Creek Winery has come a long way…
Their experience shows in the success of their numerous events: weddings, concerts and charity functions that runs right alongside of their award-winning wines. “Home of the famous Almond Champagne,” the winery has garnered numerous prestigious international wine awards, and their production has increased to approximately 50,000 cases per year. Gerry is proud that Wilson Creek is unofficially the winery of many Navy ships, including eight aircraft carriers. Wilson Creek has received several humanitarian awards and has even sparked the attention of the Hollywood film industry. Wilson Creek has been featured on the show “Radical Sabbatical” which aired on the Fine Living Network, the syndicated show “Blind Date”, as well as the MTV show “Dismissed” just to name a few.
The entire family is still involved. You can feel the energy and personal touch when you visit the large tasting room. Visit with the family members who are always on the property. The ambiance of Wilson Creek continues to be very warm and welcoming. Among the many guest favorites, the award-winning Chocolate Port is served in an edible chocolate shot glass for an extra special touch.
Wilson Creek is nestled seven miles East of Interstate 15 on Rancho California Road in Temecula Valley Wine Country. A mere 75-minute drive from Los Angeles and 50 minutes from San Diego make it a destination to be fully enjoyed.
Gerry’s response when asked if he would move from South Pasadena and start a winery again: “Sure, I do miss South Pasadena. We lived there for 30 wonderful years. Yet, I love wine country. We are still learning and growing. The main thing is that we all work together, and I love the fact that all my children and grandchildren are here. My commute to work is about 200 feet, walking through a vineyard, with a cup of coffee in my hand. I am very blessed!”
Vineyard News, from your Winemaker, Etienne Cowper…
Our mission, at the winery in late spring and early summer is to bottle, bottle, bottle so we can make room for our 2012 harvest. First we bottle the white wines from last year’s harvest. This year we began bottling as early as February, then a bit more in April, and almost all the rest in May. In June, we began bottling our 2010 reds. So lately we’ve been busy assembling our blends and making any necessary adjustments to fine-tune the wines. We do all this while fending off the ubiquitous barrel salesmen that appear from all directions.
The vineyard is looking very pretty now, flush with this year’s new growth. The vines have just gone through a second round of shoot and bunch thinning, and suckering. We do this to eliminate any unproductive growth that would sap the vines of the strength they need to produce a healthy, robust crop. At the same time we are removing extra shoots and clusters to balance the vines in terms of canopy and fruit production. The vines are at the stage where the green clusters open up and reveal their light yellow flowers. Soon after bloom will come berry set. While all looks good at the moment, a sudden change in the weather could result in a poor berry set which would lead to a smaller crop. We are diligently and continuously keeping an eye on the vines to ensure they are safe from pests and diseases. We’ve treated the vines to repel the glassy winged sharpshooter, and have sprayed the vines to prevent powdery mildew. Nature has the final say as to the quality of this year’s harvest, but from now until the grapes are ready to pick in the fall, we will do our part to ensure the best quality possible.
What do Temecula Valley’s Wine Country and Wilson Creek Winery have in common? They are home to the famous,”Oh My Gosh” Almond Champagne!
If you’ve never had it, you HAVE to try it! If you’ve had it, then you know what I’m talking about. We call it the “Oh My Gosh” champagne because that is the typical impression a person gets when trying it for the first time. This stuff is so good that people from all over the country have it shipped out for special occasions and everyday happenings alike.
Definitely a popular choice for wedding toasts, I know a couple who drove from central California to Temecula just to fill their convertible Mini Cooper to the brim with cases of Almond Champagne for their daughter’s wedding. Now if that isn’t love, I don’t know what is!
Almond champagne is wonderful on its own, but goes great with other things as well. Next time you’re in the area and decide to visit us try the Almond-tini in a chocolate cup. A favorite around here, the Almond-tini is Almond Champagne mixed with a bit of our Decadencia (chocolate port dessert wine), served in an edible Dutch chocolate shot glass – Salut! Then there’s the Almond Slushie, our version of a frozen margarita, so to speak, minus the tequilla, add Almond Champagne and voila! The Almond Slushies are heaven-sent in the warm, Temecula summer months.
We love this champagne so much that we wanted to make it easy for you to get no matter where you are. So now you can find our Almond Champagne, along with our Peach Bellini (Almond Champagne and natural peach flavorings) and Orange Mimosa (Almond Champagne and natural orange flavorings), in 23 states! If you’re a California resident you may see us on the shelves of a Costco, Vons, BevMo, Albertson’s, and Walmart (to name a few) near you.