Reinventing the Tasting Experience

The Temecula Valley might not be on top of your list of ultimate wine tasting destinations, but if the budget doesn’t quite allow a tour of Bordeaux or a riverboat up the Rhine, it’s an enjoyable place to spend a couple days.

If you go, be sure to seek out Rancho de Andallusia. Newcomers to the wine business, partners Howard Wedertz and Larry O’Keefe had met years before through a mutual love for horses and a shared background as pilots. Together with their wives, Susan Wedertz and Leigha O’Keefe, they basically lucked into the purchase of a prime piece of real estate in the heart of Temecula’s wine country. The Wedertzs also operate a horse ranch in the valley, which helped the partners come up with the name for their new venture.

While the winery property is currently a bare hillside surrounded on all sides by vineyards, they’ve still managed to create a wine tasting experience that is unmatched in Temecula.

Join them in the barrel room, currently located behind a strip mall on Wolf Store Road. A little tough to find, the hunt pays off when you’re greeted by live music and an old world ambiance created through murals, lighting and furnishings that offer a distinctly European feel.

The seated tasting is guided by James Morin who, at 23 years old, is the youngest winemaker in the valley. Instead of leaving new wine drinkers to their own devices, he offers tasting tips and background about the wines. Tasters are also treated to a food pairing, created by Chef Raymond — who, interestingly, is also a ranked competitor in the national Toughman competition.

The wines are young and it remains to be seen how competitive the winery will be on the merits of the juice alone, but the experience alone makes a visit worthwhile if you’re passing through the Temecula area.

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Reader Comments

Winery is in bankruptcy and it looks like the owners may have defrauded most of the investors.