Hart Winery, Temecula Valley

by Stevie on August 26, 2009

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romantic vineyard views at hart

romantic vineyard views at hart

I’ve been staying with my sister for the last couple of days in San Diego. She had to go in to work today so I decided to go wine tasting in Temecula. It’s in Riverside County, just over the line from San Diego County, so only about an hour plus drive from the city with no traffic. It’s a beautiful ride on Interstate 15 north past Escondido through rolling hills that become boulder-studded mountains. It was warm today but not impossibly hot, despite being summertime in Southern California. You’re constantly reminded that you’re in the Golden State, and not just because of the landscape. I drove past a highway exit marked something like Champagne Blvd. and Lawrence Welk Rd. Then there’s a tiny town of a bit over a thousand called sweetly enough, “Rainbow.” California really is a fun place to be!

On the ride up, I blasted a Kid Rock album that my sister has, “Rock-n-Roll Jesus.” It’s a great mixture of country, rock, sex, drugs and achingly beautiful pleas to value family, friendships and maintain a sense of meaning in life, despite aging and all of the mess of everything. At the same time, Kid Rock sends the whole thing up in a fantastic blast of ironic hedonism. Who knew that I’d like an album like that?

welcome to hart winery

welcome to hart winery

Temecula itself seems to be fairly suburban. Lots of well put together strip malls interspersed with gated residential communities. You have to drive through the town to reach the winery area. Hart Winery is the first one that I saw once I’d entered the official “wine country” region.

I’d selected Hart for tasting because I read from some Australian blogger that they make good reds. Since I’m tasting alone today, I wanted to read ahead a bit to try to narrow my focus a little. And mostly I admire reds over whites.

The winery tasting room is at the top of a gentle hill, surrounded by vines, some shade trees with the hills in the background. The actual tasting room was small and fairly intimate. Despite the fact that it’s Tuesday, there were a few other groups there: some teachers on summer break from Los Angeles and a couple that live part-time in Laguna Beach and part-time in Georgia.

Hart offers six tastes of the regular wines for $5 or eight tastes, including their reserve line, for $10. For the later, you can keep the glass. I wanted to go to Wiens Family Cellars next so opted for the six tastes.

2008 Roussanne, Temecula Valley, Hart Valley Vineyard: This is 100% Roussanne. It had a very pale yellow color with a prominent perfume which was sort of floral. I thought that there might be Viognier blended in because of this distinct nose, but was reassured that that was not the case. It had a very light taste, almost like water to me. The notes that the winery provide says that it’s “subtle.” I’ll say! Perhaps there was a faint apricot flavor though it was hard to discern.

some award winners at hart

some award winners at hart

2007 Grenache Rose, Temecula Valley: This wine was also extremely pale, though this time just barely pink. Not much of a nose and it tasted a bit sweet to me. It had a longish, strawberry finish on a light frame.

2007 Three, Temecula Valley: The “three” are Grenache 50%, Tempranillo 31%, and Syrah 19%. The wine was a clear red color with a flat taste and medium body with a mildly astringent finish.

2006 Syrah, Temecula Valley, Hart Family Vineyard: This one was 100% Syrah. It had an opaque purple color. I couldn’t detect an aroma though I’m not that great at that either. This one tasted tart. It had medium body and a short finish.

2005 Zinfandel, Temecula Valley: This had a brownish red color and smelled of red cherries. It had some caramel notes and tasted almost off dry to me. It had a short finish.

2005 Cabernet Franc, Temecula Valley, Hart Family Vineyard: This wine was dark red, almost purple. I didn’t register any aroma. It had a medium body and finish and tasted metallic.

hart winery interior

hart winery interior

Overall, I cannot recommend this winery. I did not really like any of the wines. Interestingly, one of the bi-coastal couple told me that 12 years ago that “you couldn’t drink any of these wines, especially the reds” apparently because they were so bad. And this man had just joined the Hart Wine Club. He thought that the place had improved tremendously. Wow!

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ritatower August 26, 2009 at 7:35 am

Champagne Blvd sounds fabulous, and the bi-coastal couple sounds rich! They seem to know alot about that winery! Good for them for believing in the place. Kid Rock does have a certain catchy appeal these days for us approaching middle age!

Deby Wozniak August 31, 2009 at 8:11 pm

I guess I am the sister that left him alone with Highway 15, Kid Rock and a winery that I have never heard of. (I have to admit that I have driven up to Temecula and have never seen a town called Rainbow…I guess I need to pay more attention to the towns then the traffic!

I have lived in San Diego for over 10 years and honestly, have never been to Hart Winery myself. Temecula wine is very different from NorCal, but I think that it is slowly growing. If I were going to come down and visit, I would suggest the old school places like Callaway, Faulkner or South Coast. To me, they are over populated with tourist, but have been around the longest and really are getting the hang of things.

As for my brother, thank you for not bagging on Temecula as much as I know you want to. Maybe next time, we cango together, take a locals advice… and not some Australian Blogger!

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