Last year, at about this time, we were attending a lunch hosted by friend and winemaker, John Tiso, owner of La Serenissima Winery and producer of our private label house wine. These exquisite lunches, prepared jointly by daughter-in-law, Ada and John are a coveted invitation. Obviously, the wine is plentiful, the conversation, of course it would follow, lively. John entertains in a bygone manner with extravagant crystal and china. La Serenissima, translated describes everything associated with John and the winery… the most serene.
Lunch begins as all meals must – a short toast and in this case a much looked forward to tasting of son, Tony’s new release of Arneis, made from a rare white Italian grape and coincidently my favorite summer drinking wine. All glasses lifted, the contents given a swirl, a discreet sniff and then the sip…John, laughing exclaims, “excellent!” It was.
In the next few days my thinking focused on the many enjoyable local wines I have discovered or have been introduced to by friends and experts. Trez Gottfredson, former owner of Country Wines and caterer, guided me in my first endeavor to put together a selection of local wines for Orchard Hill. Since that time, winemakers have gained experience, vineyards came of age and exponentially wineries were popping up like champagne corks on New Year’s Eve. Mike and Jim Hart from Temecula purchased the Jenkins Winery in Julian and it was an “away-we-go” life event. Professional and vastly experienced, the awards and recognition followed the Harts up our mountain like our cool summer ocean breezes.
This spring, I visited Shadow Mountain Winery and spent time tasting wines with owners, Pam and Alex. The variety and quality of their wines is overwhelming and on the spot convinced me that Orchard Hill no longer needed Napa - or Sonoma. Afterall, San Diego is the birthplace of California’s world recognized wines. Pam related the story of how she and Alex met after graduating from college while working and learning the wine trade in Rancho Cucamonga. I related, that as a child, twice a year a day long trip to this area was a requirement to purchase wine for our family. The wine was called Virginia Dare, my Mother’s name was Virginia, this was only evaluation needed seventy years ago to make a wine purchase. Pam, also an artist, deftly runs Shadow Mountain’s welcoming tasting room and creates humorous labels for their wine. Alex, commands the vineyard, the oldest winery in the county.
Several months later, two vans of Julianites spent an afternoon visiting the handsome contemporary home of the owner of Fallbrook Winery.
Fallbrook’s wines are bold, European in style, and for me, suggestive of the red burgundy wines of France. At days end, we crammed back into the vans accompanied by an absurd number of cases of wine. Toni and Mike Menghini shared how many years before they had trained to make wine at the same winery we had just visited. Need I repeat, it is a small world and it’s our spoken stories that time and again reveal our mystical connectiveness.
Wine cases tucked everywhere, I could no longer put off the task of organizing our cache and refining our exciting new wine list. Clearly I had succumbed to excess and duplications, but it will work out – with wine, one can drink their mistakes. Only the checkbook knows!
Orchard Hill shares our luck
As the above events were unfolding, Lili Dierenfield joined our staff. We LOVE Lili. Lili came to us from Orfila Winery where she had worked for eight years. Lili graduated from the International Wine Institute in Denver, Colorado and is a Certificated Wine Cellar Master. Beginning in November, each Saturday afternoon, Lili will lead an informed discussion of wine, encompassing the properties, ordering, pairing and the merits one might pursue to find their favorite wine. You’re gonna love Lili too!
Our Sunday Dining Package
Reserve a Sunday and Monday stay, have dinner Sunday and receive a very generous discount on your Monday stay: Lodge room = $50.00, Cottage room = $100.00
Thanksgiving and New Year’s Update:
Waiting list only for Thanksgiving. New Years – very, very limited availability (Two day dining/party package - $450. plus room, two nights) Not including taxes/fees spirits or tips.