Do you remember the 21st night of September?
Love was changing the mind of pretenders
While chasing the clouds away
Our hearts were ringing
In the key that our souls were singing
As we danced in the night
Remember, how the stars stole the night away, yeah yeah yeah
Ba de ya, de ya, de ya!
–lyrics from “September” by Earth, Wind and Fire
Yes, as you can see we are excited about September here at Ponte! Why? Well, it’s California Wine Month, of course. Uh huh, we Californians devote an entire 30-day period every year to one of our most abundant – and signature – agricultural products: wine! From Mendocino down through Temecula Valley, wineries are celebrating this wonderful time of year with festivals, harvest activities, tours, concerts and more.
California’s history of wine goes back nearly 250 years (a baby in comparison to other wine regions of the world). Here are some of the significant events in that time…
1779: Franciscan missionaries under the direction of Father Junipero Serra, a.k.a. The Father of California Wine, plant California’s first sustained vineyard at Mission San Diego de Alcala.
1833: Jean-Louis Vignes, the first commercial wine maker in California, imports and plants European wine vines in Los Angeles.
1848-1855: The California Gold Rush has a major effect on the wine industry, particularly in Northern California. Many people arrive in the state, demand for wine grows, and the planting of vineyards and production of wine skyrockets in places such as Napa and Sonoma counties.
1854: John Patchett plants the first commercial vineyard in Napa Valley and establishes the first winery there in 1858.
1860’s: Agoston Haraszthy founded Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma Valley, helping mark it the birthplace of the California wine industry.
1920: Prohibition begins, putting the California wine industry in ruins. Between 1919 and 1925, wine production drops 94%.
1933: Prohibition repealed. Less than 100 of the 2500 commercial wineries that existed before 1920 have survived as winemaking operators. By 1960 that number has grown only to 271.
1965: Robert Mondavi founded his own vineyard and winery in Oakville. It is the first large-scale winery to be established in the Napa area since before Prohibition.
1976: A blind tasting held in Paris, known as the “Judgment of Paris” rules that – out of 6 California Chardonnays and 4 French ones – 3 of the top 4 were from California. When red wines were evaluated, a California red ranks number 1, ultimately shattering the belief that European wines are superior.
2003: Ponte Winery in Temecula, CA opens, becoming the best darn California winery in history.
Today, the production of wine in California is so abundant, that if the state was its own nation, it would be the fourth highest producer of wine in the world!
September is a beautiful time to visit Ponte Winery. Harvest is in full-swing and our restaurants are overflowing with local late-summer ingredients like tomatoes, peaches and berries. In our Tasting Room, new vintages are getting rave reviews, like our 2012 Late Harvest, 2013 Pinot Grigio and 2013 Chardonnay, to name a few. We are open daily from 11 am to 5 pm, and don’t forget to make your lunch reservations here.
What September looks like at Ponte
Here are some other fun ways you can celebrate California Wine Month in Temecula Valley:
SIP Passport: For $40, guests can choose any four wineries in Temecula Valley to visit and taste wine. Passports are valid all through the month of September, so you choose when and where you’ll visit. Learn more here.
CRUSH: The one and only event of the year showcasing all 30+ wineries in Temecula Valley. Wine tasting and food is provided by each winery in attendance. This year, CRUSH will be held at Wiens Family Cellars on September 13th. Learn more here