Palumbo Family Vineyards is not on the main drag - you have to pay attention to the signs to find it. Traveling from South Coast Vineyards in Temecula, California, northeast on Rancho California Road, bear right onto Monte de Oro Road and then right onto Barksdale Circle. A wooden sign and a large wine barrel point to the road leading up a hill to Palumbo Family Vineyards. You feel like you’ve reached a summit once you arrive at the parking lot. The view of the vineyards and Temecula Valley are spectacular. It’s quiet up here with a gentle breeze.
Our first impression was a welcoming one; a large paved walkway lined with lavender, sea grass and rose bushes leads visitors to the tasting room. Housed in a converted barn with a stone façade and wide wooden double doors, the tasting room has a rustic sophistication with more of those spectacular views of the vineyard and Temecula Valley.
When Nick Palumbo first bought his property, there were already seven acres planted. These original seven acres are called Catfish Vineyard. At first, Palumbo produced and sold grapes to other vineyards, but eventually, he and his wife Cindy purchased an additional 8 acres and began to grow and produce full-bodied Bordeaux-style wines under their own label that includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Additional blocks of Viognier and Syrah were planted on neighboring properties to round out the wine offerings.
Although the tasting room was busy, Nick was generous with his time and took us on a personal tour of his winemaking facilities. Using minimal intervention and open bin fermentation, Palumbo believes that there are only two basic ingredients to making exceptional wines – the fruit itself and the barrels the wine ages in. While talking with Palumbo, one can easily see his passion for winemaking and his commitment to keeping wine production small and quality-driven. “We live here on the property and Cindy and I are raising our children here”, said Palumbo.
“We know the kind of winery we want to be and we’re staying true to it.”
Staying true means avoiding the temptation to become a larger and more commercial enterprise; and staying true to that passion is evident to visitors who taste the small lot and handcrafted Estate grown wines that the Palumbo’s produce on their sustainably farmed vineyard.
Not Easy to Come By
It also means that Palumbo wines are not always easy to come by. Some of their wines are sold to a small, select group of fine dining establishments in the San Diego, California area including The Lodge at Torrey Pines. However, the majority of wine sold is through their highly successful wine club that has a waiting list of wine lovers who want to experience Palumbo wines for themselves.
Although all of the wines that we tasted were excellent, one of our favorites was the 2008 Cabernet Franc from Palumbo’s original Catfish Vineyard. Pouring the wine into the glass, the color was dark and rich red. Swirling the glass, the legs were long and lingering. There were aromas of earth and notes of dark berry and a hint of vanilla. The smooth texture was appreciated in this fruit forward wine which became even smoother as it opened. The finish was long and slightly peppery with well integrated tannins.
We sipped our wine overlooking the vineyard and Temecula Valley on Palumbo’s casual and inviting terrace, appreciating the dedication and commitment the Palumbo’s have by staying true to their passion and producing exceptional wines.
40150 Barksdale Circle
Temecula, CA 92592
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