by Fred McMillin
for March 27, 1998

Winery of the Week

All-Star Palomar


"A survey of wine professionals a few years ago showed that Temecula was the least known wine region in California."

...Peter Poole, President of Mt. Palomar Winery

"Among our newest varieties is the Tannat, a rare red French grape that brings superior color, flavor..."

...Etienne Cowper, Mt. Palomar Winery winemaker  

The Rest of the Story

With grapes like the Tannat, Peter Poole's team surely is doing its part to put Temecula on the wine map. They have over 25 acres of about two dozen Mediterranean varietals, including such exotics as the Fiana, Fernao Pires, Graciano, etc. Gold medals and Best of Class have gone to their Carignane and Cortese. How did all of this come about?

1820s—First vines were grown in Temecula on land farmed by the Spanish missionaries.

1969—John Poole sold his Catalina Island KBIG radio station and turned to the rural life, planting 80 acres of vines in Temecula.

1975—Market for the unknown-area grapes was very weak, so John builds his own winery.

1978—Son Peter (today's president) joins the winery full-time. His education helps explain much, a degree in Plant Science from the University of Washington.

1993—Vidal A. Perez-Munoz, with two degrees in Agricultural Chemistry, joins Mt. Palomar. He has eight papers on viticulture to his credit, and soon became vineyard manager.

The team concludes that they have a Mediterranean climate, and they will start adding Mediterranean varietals. You know the rest of the story.

Just the Facts

Name—Mt. Palomar Winery
Location—Rancho California Road, Temecula
Production—15,000 plus cases/yr. Other half of grapes are sold..
Winemaker—Etienne Paul Cowper is ideally suited for this experimental emphasis...first a degree in Cultural Anthropology, then a Masters in Agricultural Chemistry (With Distinction)...in wineries working with masters Jed Steele and Andre Tchelistcheff...during two years at Konocti he won THIRTY FIVE medals, 15 being gold or higher!

The Wines

Last time I counted there were at least 15. Critic James Halliday says the Chardonnay is the best in southern California. The Cortese won BEST OF TASTING from my panel, as reported in Wine of the Day a year ago.
Phone—(909) 676-5047.


The only entity I've found that isn't excited about the Temecula vines is the insect phylloxera. It's not there, so Temecula is one of those rare California locations where vines grow on their own rootstock.  

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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