Wilson Creek Blog
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GF and Happy

Posted on May 9, 2014 in About

Wine & Dine Gluten-Free at Wilson Creek Winery’s Creekside Grille.

Whether you are celiac, gluten intolerant, or gluten-free (GF) by choice, we understand your need for a strict gluten-free diet as well as your desire to eat tasty and healthy GF food. My wife, Deanna, and I have celiac disease. In our own attempts to dine out and eat GF, we have been mistakenly “glutened”, like many of you, I’m sure. We understrand, and we want to provide a place for you to experience SAFE and DELICIOUS GF options (usually it’s one or the other).

It all started in 2008 when I was diagnosed with celiac disease. I had symptoms for over 15 years, but like many others, I was misdiagnosed during that time. So when I learned I had to eat GF the rest of my life, I started to research and read as much as I could on the subject. During this research process my wife decided to get tested and she found out she also had celiac disease. What are the chances of that? We are now referred to as the “celiac poster couple”.

We quickly became frustrated in our search for good GF food and healthy/tasty dining options. We dined at restaurants that had claimed to offer GF dishes, but more often than not we would eventually get sick. As our dining-out options shrunk, we resigned to cooking all of our meals at home. At that time, we started brainstorming with our Creekside Grille Executive Chef on how we could serve good GF selections. Together, we researched cross contamination, GF storage, wait staff protocol, places where gluten can hide (sauces, rubs, dressings, certain cheeses, etc.) purchasing separate GF utensils (pans, knives, colanders, toasters, cutting boards, squeeze bottles for condiments, and GF staff training). We wanted to do it well or not at all.

In 2009 we decided to go for it and we launched our first GF menu. We came up with the idea to have black plates for all GF dishes to help all the wait staff (and guests) know that those items are GF. We also got rid of all soy sauce and replaced it with GF tamari sauce. We trained the staff in GF preparation and the needs of the GF guest. The word traveled fast (the GF community is pretty network and tech savvy), and many visitors now come to enjoy the expanded menu with a variety of delicious options.

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Weather and Wine

Posted on April 10, 2014 in Wine Musings

“Whether the weather be fine, Whether the weather be not,

Whether the weather be cold, Whether the weather be hot,

We’ll weather the weather, Whatever the whether, 

Whether we like it or not.” -author unknown

We will weather even this lack of weather. As much of the rest of the nation digs out under feet of snow with arctic temperatures, those of us in Southern California are happy with unseasonably warm temperatures, and sunny days. That is unless you are a viticulturist who, like Gene Kelly, love singing in the rain.

We are classified as a Mediterranean climate, as are many of the worlds’ premier wine regions, with hot summer days, cool evenings and the majority of rainfall in the winter months. Average rainfall for Temecula is 14.4 inches with 84% falling November to March. To date, we have only received 2.43 inches when the historical average is 10 inches and almost all of it came in a single event from February 27th to March 1st. However, we have drip irrigation so “Why the long face, Plowboy?” I am asked. The winter rains play a vital role in the ecology of the semi-arid soils especially irrigated soils. Over the dry months salts tend to build in the upper areas around the root zones. The winter rains dilute and flush out excess salts and move nutrients into the root zone. Fortunately, we have added thousands of tons of mulch and organic matter to our soils over the last year. This, in conjunction with microbial treatments and natural additives, like humic acids, are compensating and making what could have been a poor year into a challenging year with prospects of a modest decreased yield but continuing improvements in the grapes and wine. For those of you who joined us for the Wilson Creek Wine Academy class on pruning, you got a hands-on demonstration of how we are managing our canopy to keep quality in the forefront.

The cellar, however, is having a great year. Our new winemaker, Gus Vizgirda, jumped in with both fee and bugle a-blazing. I am not kidding! Gus calls the crew to lunch, back to work and ends the day with bugle calls, so please stop calling Dept. of Wildlife with displaced moose sightings.

So while I am still praying for a late rain and Gus is practicing his bugle calls, the wines this year are better than ever and the future looks so bright that we are walking on sunshine (am I mixing my pop music metaphors?)

We look forward to seeing you at the winery.

– Greg “Bioman” Pennyroyal

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Love is in the Air

Posted on February 7, 2014 in Wine Musings

Valentine’s Day is only a week away. Some people consider Valentine’s Day to be a silly holiday manufactured by card and candy companies. Although this is part truth, from the 19th century on, most people secretly enjoy Valentine’s Day. Honestly, who doesn’t like being told they’re thought of, admired or loved? Whether it’s candies, cookies, a card, flowers or a sweet nothings whispered in your ear, what’s not to like?

With that said we have some great ideas to make your Valentine’s Day a sweet one. For starters, wine can be very romantic and sexy, red wine in specific is known as an aphrodisiac. At our Tasting Room or online, we’ve got some sultry reds that would go great with decadent chocolates, now throw in a one night stay at the Manor and ooh la la, instant Valentine magic.

For those of you who prefer bubbles over wine, no problem! A bottle of Wilson Creek Almond Champagne will do the trick. How about changing it up a bit? Try our never fail to impress, Almond-tini recipe. You’ll need some chilled martini glasses to start with. Rim the glasses with chocolate crystals for extra oomph. Then pour two parts Wilson Creek Almond Champagne and one part of our sinful chocolate port, Decadencia and viola! Now what? Take it to the next level. The Almond-tini, or even just a chilled glass of Almond Champagne, goes hand-in-hand with fireplaces, jacuzzis and spa tubs (don’t forget the bubble bath and candle light). Don’t believe me? Check out the tasting notes for yourself…

Now if you’re looking for something to do with your sweetheart on February 14th, we’ve got you covered! Friday, February 14th, 7pm to 10pm we will be hosting a romantic Valentine’s Dinner, in the elegant Champagne Ballroom. Enjoy a five-course dinner while listening to the sensuous sounds of a flamenco guitarist, maybe even steal a few dances, and take home a bottle of Almond Champagne. Reservations are required. Call 951.699.9463

We know your Valentine is special to you and because of that you may want to celebrate them all month long. If that’s the case, check out our Nights of Romance Getaway offer. Come stay two nights at the Manor during the month of February. We’ll help you set the mood with chocolate covered strawberries, champagne and bubble bath. Also included is a wine and cheese reception, continental breakfast and lunch for two at the Creekside Grille. This is the month to getaway! Book your Nights of Romance now for only $399 plus tax. Call Abby, 951.699.9463 *subject to availability.

Oh, and when in doubt, a simple handmade card or note will do.

Sending you happy thoughts and happy hearts this Valentine’s Day! Cheers!

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According to Etienne…Winemaking News, and then some

Posted on August 29, 2013 in Wine Musings

The 2013 Harvest is here! My team and I have just finished up bottling which will help clear tank space for the incoming grapes. This week we have been busy harvesting both Muscat Canelli and Viognier. These are highly aromatic white grapes that must be picked at their peak of ripeness to capture the beauty of their exotic aromas and flavors. We also have a new variety that we will be experimenting with for the first time. This spicy, aromatic, white grape is called Arneis. It a prized variety from Northern Italy and has been grown with interesting results in Northern California. Wilson Creek will be one of the pioneer wineries to see how wines made from Arneis turn out from Southern California Vineyards!

Happy Harvesting! -Etienne Cowper

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The Evolution of Cavemen and their Man-caves

Posted on June 13, 2013 in Wine Musings

When I hear “man-cave” the image that instantly comes to mind is one of a stone cave on the side of a mountain. Inside the cave is dark with the exception of light from a stone made fire pit. Men, or should we say, cavemen, are found gathered around the fire, making grunting noises at each other, while dressed in their barbarian best.

Although that’s what instantly comes to mind, when someone says “man-cave,” in regards to today’s man and his man-cave I think of an “off-limits” room, decorated with sports memorabilia, big-screen TVs, leather furniture and game tables…where pretty much anything goes, or does it?

So now I wonder…What do guys do in their man-caves nowadays?

Do you watch sports? Play Texas Hold’em, Ping-Pong, air hockey…video games?

What do you drink in your man-cave? Are man-caves just for beer? Do you have a full size fridge or a college dorm room size fridge for your drinking pleasure? Or are you a serious man-caver and have kegs on tap?

Do you have cigars in your man-cave? If so do you just sit and bask in your smoke filled room with a mini fan and a cracked open window, or have you gotten sophisticated enough to install a smoke filtration system like at the casinos?

My point is, believe or not, cavemen are evolving, and with them their man-caves are too.

On my latest tour of friends’ man-caves I have noticed more sophistication and sensible modifications. Instead of cans of Coors Light, Swisher Sweet Cigars, Redman Chewing Tobacco, chips and store bought chip dip, I’m starting to see mini kegs of local microbrews, small lot brandies, dessert wines like ports and sherries, still wines (Big Reds – in particular), hand rolled Dominican cigars and incredible snack food including fresh smoked fish, home made beef jerky and skewers of marinated freshly char-grilled beef, chicken and pork.

This is what I consider, man-cave evolution at its best!

(As I write this I can’t help getting hungry and excited about my next visit to a new and improved man-cave with all the best upgrades.)

Whatever you do, don’t get left behind. Let the evolution begin!

The next time you visit Wilson Creek Winery, ask your winetender for suggestions on food, wine, port and cigar pairings to compliment your man-cave activities.

As a side note and for your education- fortified wines like Sherries and Ports can be opened and sipped on for many months without spoiling. The Brandy in them helps to  preserve the goodness.

-Craig Johns

Family Member and Man-cave Owner

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