Wiens Family Cellars: San Diego Sojourn

Wiens Family Cellars
35055 Via Del Ponte, Temecula, CA (map link)
888-98-WIENS (888-989-4367)

I wasn’t expecting the Wiens Family Cellars facility to be quite so large – from the name I was expecting a smaller mom-and-pop kind of operation. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but at first glance its size and style brought back memories of the bad experience we had in Livermore at the winery that shall not be named. Happily, the similarities were all superficial. Wiens Family Cellars shows how a winemaking family can take their enterprise to the next level while maintaining a charming, inviting space in which friendly, knowledgeable staff can show off their wonderful wines.

Wiens Winery
Not to be confused with Ween, although you might find some chocolate and cheese here

The interior is spacious without feeling cavernous. The layout, style, materials and colors are well-chosen to create a warm, traditional wine-tasting atmosphere.

Wiens Winery


Wiens Winery

The scale of the facility and the presence of employee nametags create a slightly more businesslike feel at Wiens than at many other wineries we’ve visited, but once we met the associates who poured for us that quality was superseded by a very personalized experience. Chris, who poured for us, was very knowledgeable and engaging.

Nikki adds: Full disclosure – I was not quite as knocked out by this place as Mike was. This is why we each take our own notes. This is not the first time that one of us has been ecstatic where the other was merely satisfied, and it won’t be the last.

Some wines are miserly with their aromas, but all the ones we tasted at Wiens had amazing fragrances. I suggested they offer wine sniffings in addition to wine tastings, that’s how satisfying the aromas were.

Wiens Winery
Plus, delightful label art!

While Wiens offers wines made from grapes from other appellations, the ones we tasted are sourced from Temecula Valley grapes unless otherwise noted.

The Wines

2009 Infinite Perspective (Riverside County): “Oh, wow!” was really the only response appropriate upon smelling this wine. It’s a blend of  Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot and Cabernet Franc. The aroma was gregarious and inviting, with a hint of yeast. Nikki adds: I found the scent tart and smoky. The flavor starts out bold and fruity with just the right acidity for brightness. Mild tannins and a hint of spice create a nice finish. I’d be happy sipping this on its own, but it would be a great pairing with just about any kind of boldly-flavored food.

2008 Sangiovese: Another “Oh, wow!” aroma. I was reminded of the rich sweetness of cake batter. Nikki adds: I was reminded of unsweetened, spicy chocolate. The flavor was rich and mellow with notes of vanilla and berries. I wrote “Friendly!” in my notebook.

2009 Reflection “Super-Tuscan”: [Sniffs wine, looks in thesaurus for another way to say “Oh, wow!”] Zounds! Another nose-pleaser. It’s Tuscan because of the Barbera and Sangiovese, made Super by the addition of Petite Sirah, Syrah and Petit Verdot. The aroma floated a very light yeast scent over vanilla and fruit. The flavor was bold and fruity, but not overwhelming or jammy. The darker tones are balanced by a nice acidic brightness, and the entire flavor is elegantly framed with light tannins. Again, this would be delightful by itself, but it would also complement (and not get overwhelmed by) just about any bold foods you’d care to enjoy it with.

2009 Domestique: Ah, GSM, my old friend. Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Guy walks into a wine tasting room, sniffs the wine, says “Oh, wow!” Sorry if that’s getting old, but I blame Wiens. They’re the ones making their wines smell so amazing! This blend also put me in mind of delicious baked desserts with a hint of yeast and plenty of vanilla in the aroma. The flavor is soft and vevety, rich and mild. Perfectly balanced tannins support an array of fruit including cherry and black plum. The faint yeast creates a finish reminiscent of rustic bread.

2010 Merrytage: It’s not a Meritage, it’s a special blend released for the holidays. And sharing it with friends would impart merriment indeed. Merrytage is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, with Sangiovese and Zinfandel. Wiens really brings out the vanilla notes, especially in the nose. This one is (Oh, wow!) no exception. I also sensed a faint perfume quality. This wine feels very smooth, with flavors of raisin, caramel and a hint of grape skin.

2010 Barbera: Quiz: What did I exclaim upon smelling this? Yeah, that’s right. This had that wonderful cupcake scent – vanilla, sugar, cream – present in many of the wine aromas here with an added quality that I have yet to adequately describe. It’s a sharper component that sometimes seems metallic (in a good way) or mineral-y, or sometimes like cedar. It triggers a specific scent memory but I can’t quite put my finger on it (which is good, because that would require me to put my finger in my nose). I also was reminded of sour cherry. The flavor had both tart and sweet elements with a definite taste of underripe blackberry amid the fruit. I also got cedar and even a whiff of hops!

Amour De L’Orange: I sniffed it, I said it. I’m not ashamed! This is Champagne enhanced with a touch of natural orange flavor. The orange aroma and flavor are perfect complements to those in the wine. The orange draws attention, but then redirects it back to the Champagne. The flavors are distinct but not separate, creating a seamless experience. It’s a masterful example of how different flavor elements can interact to create an energetic sense of motion on the tongue. This was the kind of delicious that could get you in trouble if you had a few bottles on hand.

In summary, Wiens manages to create wines that consistently bear signature elements in flavor and aroma, while maintaining each wine’s distinct character.