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Now Is the Time for Fruit of Vine


North County and Temecula winery owners, scrambling to beat the recent sweltering heat, are harvesting their grapes earlier than usual this year so they don't ripen too quickly and become unusable for winemaking. Fermented grape fanciers accustomed to trekking to wineries in mid-to-late-September will have to come early to catch the harvesting and crushing activities that are annual traditions.

Tastings and tours remain on regular schedules despite the heat. Here is a list of wineries and any harvest activities being staged in North County and Temecula Valley during the next two months.


The husband and wife team of Phil and Carol Baily run this Temecula winery, which primarily produces white and blush wines. By early September, however, a couple of red wines also will be available for free tasting.

The Baily's new tasting room offers seven wines and is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. The winery itself is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends only.

The Bailys will host a harvest dinner Sept. 19, featuring a six-course meal and a different wine with each course. Live classical guitar music will accompany the dinner. Tickets are $50 a person, plus tax, and may be purchased by calling the winery.

Tasting room at 33833 Rancho California Road, Temecula. Winery at 36150 Pauba Road, Temecula. 714-676-WINE


San Diego County's oldest winery is also one of its smallest, producing only 2,000 cases of wine annually. The public is not invited to view harvesting or crushing because they take place before the winery opens. However, the winery's tasting room is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, and people can sample dinner wines--red and white--fruit wines and dessert wines. Tastings are free.

13330 Paseo del Verano Norte, Rancho Bernardo. 487-1866 CALLAWAY

Callaway's crush began earlier this month, but will be in full swing by Sept. 2 and should end by Sept. 20, depending on the heat and humidity, a winery spokeswoman said. Crush does not occur every day and it is usually over by 11 a.m., so visitors are encouraged to call the winery first and to arrive early to catch a glimpse of the harvest process.

During harvest, between 100 and 160 pickers working in teams of 14 or 18 are in the vineyards at any given time.

Callaway Vineyard & Winery, owned by liquor giant Hiram Walker & Sons, produces 190,000 cases annually. In business 18 years, Callaway currently grows nine varietals, and this year introduced its newest wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon in a bordeaux-style with a black cherry and currant flavor.

Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Muscat Canelli, Pinot Gris, Mourvedre and Viognier are among the wines available for tasting. Tastings are $2 per person and include four tastes and a souvenir glass.

Tasting and winery hours are 11 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. weekends. Regular winery tours are at 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. weekdays, and every hour on the hour from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

32720 Rancho California Road, Temecula. 714-676-4001


Breaking tradition, Vince and Audrey Cilurzo will not throw one of their well-known harvest festivals this season, but visitors are still welcome to watch the harvest, which is expected to last through the first two weeks of September. Persons interested in viewing the crush should call first to see if the activity is taking place that day.

Audrey Cilurzo said people interested in picking grapes can call the winery and have their name put on a volunteers' list. Cilurzo tries to work everybody in, and those who do volunteer, are invited to a swim party and barbecue at the end of the day.

The Cilurzo's started their first vineyard in 1968 and opened their winery in 1978. Annually, they produce 10,000 cases of 11 different wines, including Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Merlot and Vincheno, a light red, fruity blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc. All are available for tasting.

Wine tasting is conducted from 9:30 a.m.-4:45 p.m. daily. Cost is $1 to taste all the wines, but that price is refunded if you purchase a bottle of wine. Free winery/vineyard tours are conducted, and a picnic area overlooking a lake is available to visitors.

41220 Calle Contento, Temecula. 1-800-783-5250


Twenty-five tons of grapes were pressed earlier this month, making it the winery's first crush on their own turf. As in years past, Culbertson still buys grapes from other wineries in the region, but now has the capability of doing its own crushing.

Specializing in sparkling wines, Culbertson offers four tastings (about 2 glasses) for $6 per person, including winemaker's notes. Tastings are conducted every hour on the hour from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Free winery tours are also available.

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