Visit Temecula Valley Reveals Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country Winners of First Annual People’s Choice Blind Tasting and Awards

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Wilson Creek Winery and Danza del Sol Winery take top spots in first regional consumer blind tasting.

People's Choice Blind Tasting Winners

Winners (L-R): Wine Country Marketing Director Devin Parr accepting for Briar Rose Winery, Patricia O'Brien of Danza del Sol Winery, Bill Wilson of Wilson Creek Winery, Marcelo Doffo of Doffo Winery

Visit Temecula Valley (VTV), in coordination with Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association (TVWA), today announced the winners of the first annual People’s Choice Blind Tasting. The event took place on Thursday, September 29, 2016, at Galway Downs, as the culmination of Temecula Valley Wine Month activities.

Danza del Sol’s 2015 Pinot Grigio ($28) and Wilson Creek’s 2012 Petite Sirah ($64.99) took first place for white and red, respectively. Second place winners were Briar Rose Winery’s 2013 Estate Riesling ($24), and Doffo Winery’s 2014 Zinfandel ($69). In third place were Monte de Oro Winery & Vineyards’ 2015 Nostimo ($23), a blend of estate-grown Muscat Canelli, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier, and Avensole Winery’s 2012 Second Block ($60.95), a Zinfandel-based blend.

“No almonds were harmed in the making of this wine,” joked Bill Wilson, CEO of Wilson Creek Winery, while accepting his award, in reference to the sweet sparkler that has put his winery on the map. “We are most known for our Almond Sparkling, but what we are most proud of is our quality still wines.”

More than 200 guests tasted 49 wines (23 whites and 26 reds) without knowing any of the wines’ identities, and rated them on a scale of 1 to 10. Scores were tallied and averaged to determine the top three “People’s Choice” whites and reds. Wines could be any variety or a blend, at any price point, as long as they were made from 100% Temecula Valley fruit. Entries ranged from just $16 per bottle to more than $100, and represented a dizzying number of grape varieties, from Malbec to Cinsault to Alicante Bouschet.

“Danza del Sol Winery is honored to have received first place recognition for our very popular 2015 Pinot Grigio at the People's Choice Awards,” said Danza del Sol Winery Owner Bob Olson. “I want to congratulate our winemaker, Arturo Villarreal, and his team for their continuing hard work, attention to detail, and talent. It's great to see the fruits of our labor enjoyed and recognized by wine enthusiasts.”

The landmark event was part of the region’s ongoing celebration of California Wine Month throughout September 2016. It featured a walk-around blind tasting followed by a five-course dinner created by Chef Bill Bitonti of Galway Downs, paired with Temecula Valley wines. A VIP reception offered hand-selected pours presented by local winemakers and winery owners. Local singer-songwriter Camille Solenne performed throughout the tasting. The evening’s keynote address was delivered by Stacie Jacob, Founder & Chief Strategist of Solterra Strategies and former Executive Director of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance.

Sponsors included the National Merchants Association, 34° Crisps, and Chocolate Stars USA. Carter Estate Winery & Resort was the official hotel partner for the event.

Top ten whites and reds in alphabetical order were as follows:

Bel Vino Winery 2014 Chardonnay ($21.95)
Briar Rose Estate Riesling, 2013 ($24)
Danza del Sol Pinot Grigio, 2015 ($28)
Falkner Chardonnay, 2015 ($24.95)
Fazeli Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, 2014 ($28)
Maurice Car’rie “Soft” Chenin Blanc, 2015 ($20.95)
Monte de Oro “Nostimo”, 2015 ($23)
Oak Mountain Viogner, 2015 ($24)
Robert Renzoni Chardonnay, 2014 ($26)
Wiens Roussanne, 2015 ($26)

Avensole “Second Block” Zinfandel, 2012 ($60.95)
Carter Estate Merlot, 2012 ($50)
Doffo Zinfandel, 2014 ($69)
Europa Village Private Reserve Sangiovese, 2013 ($48)
Fazeli Cellars Shiraz, 2012 ($48)
Hart Winery “Tres Hermanos” GSM, 2014 ($34)
Leoness Cellars Vineyard Selection Merlot, 2013 ($52)
Oak Mountain Malbec, 2012 ($45)
Robert Renzoni “Sonata”, 2013 ($42)
Wilson Creek Petite Sirah, 2012 ($64.99)

For a complete listing of wines poured, click here.


With natural gifts of climate and geography, Temecula Valley is widely recognized for its scenic vineyards, award-winning wines, and friendly wineries as Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country. The destination includes the Temecula Valley A.V.A. (American Viticulture Area) as well as Downtown, Old Town Temecula, and Pechanga Resort & Casino.

Visit Temecula Valley is online at; “Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country” on Facebook and @Visit_Temecula on Twitter. The Temecula Valley Visitors Center is located in Old Town Temecula on Mercedes Street adjacent the Old Town Parking Garage. For visitor assistance, call 888/363-2852 or 951/491-6085.


Temecula Valley is the largest and most commercially successful winegrowing region in the South Coast AVA, the viticultural zone spanning more than 2 million acres from Riverside County to the San Diego border. The Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association has long served as a steward of the Southern California wine community. Comprising 36 wineries and more than 60 winegrowers, the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association is a nonprofit regional organization dedicated to increasing awareness of the quality wines and wine grapes grown in the Temecula Valley and South Coast Appellations. Established in 1984, the Temecula AVA consists of 33,000 acres, of which approximately 1,300 acres are currently planted to commercial vineyards. Known as Southern California's wine country, the Temecula Valley is located in Riverside County just one hour from San Diego, Orange County and Palm Springs and 90 minutes from Los Angeles.

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