For years, Mount Palomar Winery was the leading vineyard experimenter in the Temecula Valley. We have grown more grape varieties for wine than most wineries ever will. We also pioneered vineyard trellising methods, leaf canopy management, and crop thinning techniques for the Valley. We believed this work was necessary in establishing a new wine region, and we gained invaluable insights in the process.
Vineyards do more than provide grapes. Soils, climate and vineyard practices are reflected in the flavors and quality of the wine they produce. Our thirty years experience in the Temecula Valley assures excellent vineyard care in harmony with our surroundings. In our dry climate, proper irrigation control is a major influence in moderating the grapevine microclimate and producing high quality wine. Mount Palomar employs "regulated deficit irrigation" monitored by modern instruments and our own visual judgment of the vines. In addition, all our vines are mulched with organic materials. These practices conserve water use, and create a healthy leaf canopy and grapes with full, ripe flavors.
The size of the grape crop is another major factor in determining quality. In addition to initially training the vines for a moderate crop level, red wine varieties are "color thinned" at veraison or color change, removing any grape bunches with low color and leaving only the best to ripen. Finally, hand harvest takes place when the grape flavors indicate full ripeness and the disappearance of immature characteristics. We are creating wines in the vineyard with rich, pleasing flavors and smooth, mouth-filling textures.
Our vineyards are located in the Temecula Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA)*. This wine region covers 33,000 acres in California's South Coast region, north of San Diego County. The entire region is above 1000 feet elevation and receives cooling Pacific Ocean influences. The ocean breezes, elevation, and higher surrounding mountains combine to produce cooler temperatures in the Temecula Valley AVA than in the adjacent areas. The soils are mostly granitic sandy loam and are of low fertility and water holding capacity - perfect for limiting excessive vine vigor and producing well balanced and varietally true wines.
The Western reach of the AVA has the strongest marine influence on temperature, and is usually a UC, Davis Region II (moderately cool). Mount Palomar now has long-term contracts for grapes grown in this area. The central part of the AVA, where Mount Palomar Winery is located, is generally a Region III (moderately warm), yet receives regular winter frost and cooling breezes. Elevations here are above 1400 feet. Most winegrape varieties do well in this area.
* The name Temecula means "sun shines through the mist" in the Luiseño Indian language, a phenomenon of Temecula mornings that often limits the full heat of the sun to the midday hours, before our daily ocean breezes begin.