Stuart Cellars Vineyard and Winery
Summary: The focus at Stuart Cellars is to produce the best red wines to come out of Temecula Valley. Marshall Stuart believes that “Temecula is a best kept secret.” As you gaze upon the mountains from the winery, look for Mt. Palomar, a shining white spot in the distance.
Outside of the brown-sided tasting room and winery, we noted chairs made from old oak barrels. A member of the Wine Club makes these original chairs that are available for sale.
A visit with the winery owner and winemaker was delightful. Marshall purchased the property in 1994 and in 1996 planted vines. The Stuart Cellars’ tasting room opened in 1998. Currently there are 36 acres of vines on the property that sits at an elevation of 1425 feet. Stuart Cellars leases an additional 112 acres. Grape varietals include Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Zinfandel. Frequently coyotes go after the water and grapes in the vineyards. Marshall saw an insect in 1994 and tried to determine what it was. However, no one realized at the time that this was the insect that is responsible for Pierce’s Disease. By 1999, Stuart lost some vines. Overall, he figures he lost two percent of his vineyard. On the late February day of our visit, a California Condor flew over the vineyard.
Marshall is a hands-on person and enjoys being the winemaker and working in the vineyard. He carefully watches the vineyards, remarking that it is important to "cast your shadow on your vineyard everyday.” Drip irrigation is used in the vineyard with the water placement down near the vine.
The economy is affecting the winery and as a result Marshall has reduced the price of many of his everyday wines by 15 percent. Currently, Stuart Cellars produces 26,000 cases of wine. Wine Club members can participate in Wine Club Wednesday from 5:00 pm to 7: 30 pm. Free food and wine is included in the membership.
The tasting room was originally a horse barn. However, Marshall remodeled the building and it now offers a delightful venue for wine tastings. The tasting area offers a lovely ambience in which to taste wines. Pictures and wall sconces decorate the walls. Adjacent to the tasting room, a smaller room has a large table and chairs for special wine tastings.
We tasted several wines with Marshall while he discussed wines, vineyards and a new facility currently in the planning and approval stages. The new winery facility will open in 2012.
Estate Chardonnay 2007 was aged in new French Oak. The aroma and taste were of caramel, oak with apple and pear nuances. The finish was crisp with a long caramel aftertaste. White Merlot 2008 had a residual sugar of 2.5. The color was orange-red. The aroma and taste had slight strawberry nuances. The finish was crisp and that cut the sweetness. The tannins were soft and there was a long strawberry aftertaste. Sangiovese 2006 had a ruby translucent color with an aroma and taste of cherries. This wine had soft tannins and is considered an easy-drinking wine. Cucamonga Valley Zinfandel Lopez Ranch 2007 was a ruby translucent color. The aroma was of perfume and dark fruit. The taste was fruit forward and the taste was of perfume and dark fruit. The finish offered bold tannins and fruit on the aftertaste. Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 was aged in oak barrels for 36 months. The wine offered a blackberry fruit and taste with a velvety mouth feel. The wine finished crisp with tannins. Petite Syrah 2006 was a black purple opaque color. The aroma had black fruit with alcohol. The taste was of black fruit with a smooth mouth feel. The finish was fruit forward with tannins. The Port 2002 Zinfandel was aged for three years in oak barrels. The aromas and taste were fruity and there was very little heat on the finish.
About 70 percent of the wines purchased by visitors are dry red wines. Enjoy a visit to Stuart Cellars where you will discover a winery that concentrates on quality wines.
Stuart Cellars Vineyard & Winery
33515 Rancho California Road
GPS: 33° 31.419' W 117° 04.464'
Visit these California organizations and wineries that partner with Wine Trail Traveler.