By Jen Lothspeich
Callaway Vineyard and Winery is one of the most recognizable names in Temecula Valley — and with good reason. Their storied history starts with an entrepreneur who went from working in textiles to planting some of the first vines in Temecula, to founding a golf company that is still a leader in the industry today.
In more recent history, Callaway Vineyard and Winery was purchased by the Lin family in 2005 and naming rights for the brand were split between the family and a distribution company that puts out Callaway Coastal wines — a tad confusing, but the Temecula Callaway and the “Coastal” iteration are entirely different.
The Callaway most are familiar with now has a second home in Downtown San Diego, bringing their Temecula wines to the masses with a prime location on Fourth Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter.
Like many tasting rooms, Callaway offers flights of wines — five selections of your choice for $20 — so patrons can familiarize themselves before choosing a glass or bottle for onsite consumption or something to take home.
However, they also offer tasting experiences that venture beyond the typical.
One additional tasting option is their “Library Wine Tasting” for $25. These older wines cost a pretty penny by the bottle but sometimes you just gotta treat yourself.
Another way to do just that — and for the same price — is Callaway’s chocolate and wine pairing menu, a teaming of Callaway tasting room manager Richard Butters and Isabella Valencia of Dallmann Confections.
Located nearby at the Headquarters at Seaport Village, Dallmann crafts chocolates that are both aesthetically appealing and exquisitely flavored, making the pairing menu a double treat.
The exotic Dallmann-Callaway pairings include a “spicy passion” fruit caramel and bittersweet chocolate paired with rosé of sangiovese; a dark chocolate ganache infused with lavender paired with a cabernet sauvignon; and a fleur de sel butter caramel paired with a port.
But if you want to move past the realm of simply tasting fine wines into the world of wine knowledge, Callaway also offers a unique wine component seminar for $35 per person.
It can be booked for groups of up to 12 people with 24 hours notice and experienced either weekday afternoons or early afternoons on weekends.
At the seminar, either Butters or tasting room assistant manager Alex Kanakaris will guide all levels of wine drinkers on a journey through the core components of wine.
By tasting the elements — acid, tannin, oak, alcohol and sugar — both alone and followed by samples of Callaway wines, attendees will start to recognize them more easily.
This guided exploration highlights how balance is achieved in quality wine. And while a neutral acid similar to flavorless lemonade or a bitter extraction of tannin may not taste pleasant, exposing taste buds to them provides context for wine lovers who want to know just what component it might be that makes them a lover of zinfandels or a hater of chardonnay.
Wineries like Callaway have long been a destination for birthday parties, bachelorette trips and other group outings.
While the new tasting room offers a familiar style of wine flights ideal for such occasions, they also offer exceptional experiences that would work equally well for a group, large or small. And you don’t have to make the trek to Temecula to enjoy them!
—Jen Lothspeich is a wine-drinking, cat-cuddling native San Diegan who dreams of writing a best-selling true crime novel. Find her on Twitter at @Jen_Evel.