Mount Palomar Winery was established in 1969 by John Poole. Mount Palomar received its bond and license from the ATF in 1974 (making it the second winery to be officially established, after Callaway Vineyard & Winery).
John Poole was the founder of KBIG radio station in 1952, broadcasting from Catalina Island. John initially purchased 300 acres of land off Calle Contento and Rancho California Rd. and began planting Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, and Riesling. Early on, Mount Palomar began blending and aging Sherry in our outdoor Solera in 1974. This unique and highly sought-after wine is fortified with a high-proof, neutral grape spirit and can be produced in a wide array of styles from dry (Fino) to sweet (Oloroso and Cream Sherry).
Sherry wines are intentionally allowed to oxidize inside small oak casks in order to help create its unique flavors. The Sherry ageing process is characterized by the development of a film called Flor which is essentially a film of yeasts that develop inside the oak casks which are intentionally left in a partially filled state to encourage the development of the Flor itself. Mount Palomar produces a sweet, dessert-style Sherry which is aged in a traditional outdoor Solera.
Mount Palomar’s Solera has been in continuous operation since 1974, making it one of the oldest continuous operating Soleras in North America. Later, in the early 1990’s, Mount Palomar planted the coveted Brunello clone of Sangiovese (the first Sangiovese vineyard in the valley!) The Castelletto label was created in honor of John’s wife, Olivia De Reya Poole. The Castelletto label focuses on our estate grown Italian varietals, which include Dolcetto and Cortese (both of which are no longer on property), Sangiovese, and Primitivo (a clone of Zinfandel).
Our Mount Palomar label includes all other Vitis Vinifera grape varieties which are also cellared and bottled on site. in 1985, John Poole passed the winery onto his son, Peter Poole. During Peter’s tenure, iconic wines like Shorty’s Bistro Red were introduced. Shorty (who’s original name was “Shardik”) was the name of the Husky/Malamute/Wolf dog that Peter owned and was a near-constant presence at the winery for many years.
Shorty’s Bistro Red is a non-vintage red table wine made in the “French Bistro Style” that was blended from several red varietals grown on the property. Shorty passed away in 2007 and now the name of the wine has been amended to “Bistro Red”. Mount Palomar Winery was sold to Louis and Maha Darwish in 2006 and their tenure was marked mostly by modifications made to the property which included the large “Piazza” or Square on the 1450-foot plateau just above and east of the tasting room and winemaking facilities.
In 2014, there was a propane explosion in the former tasting room, which caused the building to be condemned and torn down. The Darwish family later built a small restaurant called Annatta near the site of the former tasting room. Today, that same building now houses the bar and restaurant at Mount Palomar Winery. The winery was sold once more to Dr. Chaudhuri in late 2019.
Dr. Chaudhuri is a retired orthopedic surgeon and a native of Bengal, India. Dr. Chaudhuri came to California in the 1980’s and begin investing in property and hospital management. The KPC group now manages several hospitals in Orange County and Riverside County. Dr. Chaudhuri’s grand vision for Mount Palomar is to transform it into a destination for not only great wine, but also a destination for food, music, private events, and also a hotel.
KPC Mount Palomar Winery has recently undertook the planting of 55 new acres of vineyard including varietals such as Chardonnay, Vermentino, Fiano, Aglianico, Nero d’Avola, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Currently, Mount Palomar winery farms 18 acres of estate grown varietals including Sangiovese, Carménère, Cabernet Franc, Cinsaut, Viognier, Palomino, Pedro Ximenez, Petite Sirah, Primitivo, and Riesling.
The dominant white varietal is Riesling at 6.2 acres and the predominant red varietal is Sangiovese at 4.8 acres. Mount Palomar was the first winery to plant the coveted Brunello clone of Sangiovese and is broadly responsible for the tendency towards Italian varietals in the valley. John Poole passed away on Dec. 25th, 2003, but we still honor and maintain the legacy that he began all those years ago…. stay tuned!