Golden State Winery

California Wine: The Official Magazine of the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition 

South Coast Winery, Temecula, California 

By: Mike Dunne

No California Wine Region has faced more challenges to establishing traction and respect than Temecula Valley in Riverside County. Since it first was recognized as an American Viticulture Area nearly a quarter of a century ago, its efforts to be taken seriously as a source of fine wines repeatedly have been stymied.
Infestations of the glassy-winged sharpshooter and Pierce’s disease threatened to decimate vineyard before the county had a chance to be acknowledged for any kind of agriculture other than cattle, horses and oranges.
What’s more, the valley has seemed more susceptible to the cyclical nature of California agriculture than other wine regions, with the number of wineries and the acreage devoted to wine grapes expanding and contracting sharply with each boom and bust in the stat’s economy. And then there’s its image. Temecula Valley is seen as really hot, perhaps too hot for many varieties of wine grapes.
Its location is enviable in one regard, however. Temecula Valley is within an easy drive of thousand of wine enthusiast’s residents of Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, San Bernardino, Palm Springs, and Las Vegas, for whom a day trip to Sonoma County or Napa Valley is out of the question.
But that proximity has hurt the valley’s image as a sophisticated wine enclave as much as it has helped underpin its commercial success. When California vintners began to fret about crowd-control issues in tasting rooms a few years ago, Temecula Valley stirred the most chatter for its congestion, party atmosphere and propensity for drawing limos of rowdy bibbers who much earlier in the day should have been spitting rather than swallowing.
Through it all, several wineries have countered the criticism and doubt with wine that win awards frequently on the competition circuit, thought the region’s profile remains low, in large part because its releases generally don’t get far beyond Riverside County. All those Fellow Southern Californians snatch them up.
There’s not much Jon McPherson and Javier Flores can do about that, even if they wanted to. What they have been doing, however, is the let rest of the wine drinking world know that Temecula Valley has the fruit and the talent to produce wines of exceptional merit.
McPherson And Flores respectively are the master winemaker and winemaker of South Coast Winery Resort & Spa, which as its name suggests embraces enthusiastically Temecula Valley’s hedonistic approach to wine culture, complete with villas overlooking vineyard and orchard, body rituals such as the grapeseed scrub  Mediterranean restaurant and tasting room.
In the meantime, McPherson, a member of a prominent Texas winemaking family, and Flores, with similar roots, but in Mexico, diligently go about there winemaking which for the second straight year had brought South Coast Winery Resort & Spa the California State Fair’s Golden State Winery trophy, awarded the participating winery that turns in the most impressive overall performance in the commercial wine competition.
“I think we entered 50 wines,” says McPherson, adding, “39 won medals.”
That roundup included five gold medals and a jaw dropping 21 silvers, Four of the five golds were for wines made with grape varieties most closely associated with France’s Rhone Valley- viognier, roussanne, Grenache and the like- perhaps pointing to a style that ultimately will account for Temecula Valley’s standing as a fine wine region.
On the other hand, the range or silver medals indicates that the valley can be a receptive home to a wide variety of wine grapes, the silvers went to wine as diverse as chardonnay and gewürztraminer, cabernet sauvignon and zinfandel, Semillon and riesling.

Jeff & Danny Carter & Brenda Ruocco enjoy a moment of celbration at the California's Grape & GourmetBesides a spectrum of soils, exposures and temperatures, such a range could indicate that Temecula Valley still is in its infancy as an appellation, searching for the precise combination of place and grape that will yield head-turning wines most steadily.

But McPherson gives another explanation for why he and Flores make so many different kinds of wine. Remember all those people who visit Temecula Valley from Orange County, San Diego and so forth? They represent and exceptionally diverse audiences, with tastes that run the palate from dry Rieslings to sweet sparkling wines.  “There are so many diverse people coming through this area, and they’re all looking for something different,” McPherson says. “Many are novices, many are connoisseurs. We want our wines to fit the diversity of the people coming through the valley.” Something for everyone, in other words.
That’s variety alone, however, doesn’t explain why South Coast Winery Resort & Spa is doing so well at the State Fair. Wine Judges, suggests McPherson, look for the same thing as visitors to his tasting room, where a rather staggering 70 percent of the winery’s output is sold. In a word, that’s “drinkability,” by which McPherson means that he grooms his wines in such a way that wine drinkers look forward to their third glass as eagerly as they anticipate the first.
“In our reds, our tannins aren’t high, and in our whites we have a balance of acid and residual sugar that gives the wines both lushness and nuance. That’s the drinkability factor,” says McPherson.
He’s gratified by his second successive winery-of-the-year trophy; if for no other reason than he believes it shows outsiders that Temecula Valley may indeed possess something that so far has been elusive to the appellation-consistency in the quality of its wines.
“To win this a second time is the beginning of showing the wine-drinking public north of Santa Barbara that we are moving towards consistency,” McPherson says.” there’s quality fruit and quality winemaking here, but we weren’t truly consistent until recently. We’ve been playing catch up.”
On the night of the winery won its first Golden State Winery trophy a year ago, McPherson stopped at the entrance to Cal Expo on his way home from the ceremonies to snap a photo of there big bear for Jim Carter, who  founded South Coast Winery Resort & Spa in 2003. McPherson sensed that Carter wouldn’t settle for the small gleaming golden bear sculpture that represents the award, and that he would like at least a photo of something more bearish.
Sure enough, Carter later bought and exact replica of on e of the bears in front of Cal Expo, and had it installed on the grounds of his winery.
Will he pop for another? That remains to bee seen. McPherson is sure, however, that he will go for an unprecedented threepeat when next year’s State Fair commercial wine competition commences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South Coast Winery

PETIT VERDOT ~GOLD 95    
Temecula Springs Estate Vineyard, Temecula Valley
2006 750ml 800 gal. $22.00
Best of Class South Coast Appellations

ROSSANNE ~ GOLD 95
Huis Vineyard, Temecula Valley
2007 750ml 500gal. $22.00
Best of Region & Best of Class South Coast Appellations

GVR ~ GOLD 94
Temecula Valley
2008 750 ml 700 gal. $20.00
Best of Class South Coast Appellations

GRENACHE ROSE ~GOLD 94
Carter Estate, Temecula
2008 750ml 390 gal. $14.00
Best of Class South Coast Appellations

VIOGNIER~GOLD 94
22% Summit Vinetards & 78% Huis Vineyards, Temecula
2007 750 ml 300 gal. $18.00
Best of Class South Coast Appellations

SPUMANTE DIAMANTE SPARKLING MUSCAT CANELLI~ SILVER 92
California
NV 750ml 570 gal. 18.00

PINOT NOIR/CHARDONNAY BRUT SPARKLING WINE ~SILVER 91
Temecula Valley
NV 750 ml 300 gal. $18.00
Best of Class South Coast Appellations
PETITE SIRAH ~SILVER 91
Wild Horse Peak Reservoir Block, South Coast
2006 750 ml 300 gal $38.00
Best of Class South Coast Appellations

BLACK JACK PORT~ SILVER 91
South Coast
NV 750 ml 570 gal. $38.00

SAUVIGNON BLANC MUSQUE CLONE~SILVER 91
Carter Estate Vineyard , Temecula Valley
2007 750 ml 650 gal $14.00
Best of Class South Coast Appellations

SEMILLON~ SILVER 91
Huis Vineyard, Temecula Valley
2007 750 ml 460 gal. $18.00
Best of Class South Coast Appellation

SANGIOVESE THUNDERBOLT BLOCK~ SILVER 90
Wild Horse Peak Mountain Vineyards, South Coast
2006 750 ml 560 gal. $34.00
Best of Class South Coast Appellation

RIESLING~ SILVER 90
Carter Estate Vineyard, Temecula Valley
2008 750 ml 550 gal. $14.00

RIESLING DRY ~ SILVER 90
Carter Estate Vineyard, Temecula Valley
2007 750ml 300 gal. $ 16.00

BLANC DE BLANC SPARKLING CHARDONNAY ~SILVER 89
Temecula Valley
2007 750 ml 1,900 gal $30.00

CABERNET SAUIVGNON~SILVER 89
Wild Horse Peak Devil’s Hole Block, South Coast
2004 750 ml 300 gal. $35.00

GEWURZTRAMINER~SILVER 89
Carter Estate Vineyard, Temecula Valley
2008 750ml 300 gal. $14.00
Best of Class South Coast Appellations

GRENACHE~ SILVER 89
Carter Estate Vineyards, Temecula Valley
2006 750 ml 480 gal. $18.00

CABERNET SAUVIGNON ~ SILVER 88
Rolling Hills Estate, Temecula Valley
2006 750 ml 350 gal. $24.00

CHARDONNAY SANS CHENE ~ SILVER 88
38% Huis Vineyard; 62% Ramirez Vineyard, Temecula
2008 750ml 990 gal. $15.00

DIA DE LOS MERLOT ~SILVER 88
Temecula Valley
NV 750 ml 12,000 gal. $10.00

GRENACHE ~ SILVER 88
Carter Estate Vineyard, Temecula Valley
2007 750ml 3,000 gal. $18.00

GROUP THERAPY CARTER ESTATE ~SILVER 88
PRIVATE RESERVE

Temecula Valley
2007 750 ML 1,500 GAL $16.00
Best of Class South Coast Appellations

SYRAH CARTER ESTATE, PRIVATE RESERVE~ SILVER 88
Wild Horse Peak Vineyards, South Coast
2005 750ml 300 gal. $52.00
Best of Class (TIE) South Coast Appellations

MERLOT ROSE ~ SILVER 88
Wild horse Peak Mountain Vineyards, South Coast
2008 750 ml 550 gal. $14.00

ZINFANDEL ~SILVER 88
Lopez Vineyard, Cucamonga Valley
2007 750 ml 980 gal. $24.00

CABERNET FRANC~ BRONZE 87
Wild Horse Peak, Reservoir Block, South Coast
2006 750ml 1,000 gal. $26.00

CABERNET SAUVIGNON PRIVATE ~ BRONZE 87
RESERVE CARTER ESTATE

Estate Bottled, South Coast
2003 750 ml 464 gal $ 52.00

SYRAH LONE BOULDER RIDGE ~BRONZE 87
Wild Horse Peak Vineyards, South Coast
2006 750ml 426 gal. $44.00

CABERNET SAUVIGNON ~BRONZE 86
Wild horse Peak Sandy Bottom, South Coast
2004 750ml 300 gal. $35.00

CABERNET SAUVIGNON ~ BRONZE 86
Wild Horse Peak Dry Rock Gulch, South Coast
2004 750ml 300 gal. $35.00

CABERNET SAUVIGNON ~ BRONZE 86
Wild Horse Peak Thunder bolt, South Coast
2004 750 ml 300 gal. $35.00

CABERNET SAUVIGNON 4 BLOCK BLEND ~BRONZE 86
Wild Horse Peak Mountain Vineyards, South Coast
2005 750ml 944 gal. $28.00

EXTRA DRY SPARKLING WINE ~ BRONZE 86
Temecula Valley
NV 750 ml 580 gal. $18.00

MERLOT ~ BRONZE 86
Rolling Hills Estate Vineyards, Temecula Valley
2005 750 ml 468 gal. $48.00

MERLOT PRIVATE RESERVE CARTER ESTATE ~BRONZE 86
Estate Bottled, South Coast
2003 750 ml 468 gal. $48.00

MERLOT ~BRONZE 86
Wild Horse Peak Mountain Vineyards, South Coast
2005 750ml 630 gal. $15.00

SWEET MAGGIE SIGNATURE SOLERA SWEET MUSCAT ~ BRONZE 86
South Coast
NV 500ml 400 gal. $53.00

ESTATE FUME ~BRONZE 86
Carter & Huis Vineyards, Temecula Valley
2008 750ml 1,300 gal. $22.00
Best of Class South Coast Appellations