The Big Red Fest – April 30, 2023 
The Big Red Fest – April 30, 2023 

The Big Red Fest – April 30, 2023 

Red red wine, I loved you right from the start.  
Right from the start, with all of my heart.   - UB40


When winter wanes, dormant vineyards awaken, signaling the birth of a new vintage.  That makes me pretty happy, but not nearly as happy as a full-day celebration of food and wine.  The wineries of the De Portola Wine Trail make it happen on the last day of April by hosting the annual Big Red Fest.  This once-a-year festa del vino rosso sets you on a journey down Temecula’s De Portola Wine Trail, where you'll discover 10 family-owned wineries proudly vinting some of Southern California's most notable wines. Fest-goers sample three red wines at each winery, and nibble food pairings from local chefs and restaurants.

It’s all red, all day, but I’m always stunned by the variety of varietals offered up, and you will be too.  

Fazeli Cellars will pour their 2018 Shiraz and two crimson blends – Commotion (Zinfandel, Barbera, and Sangiovese) and Pandemonium (Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cinsault).  These robust reds deserve a hearty pairing, and Fazeli delivers with Persian Bolognese, a slow-cooked beef stew with Persian spices, served over basmati rice and topped with crispy shoestring potatoes.  

To satisfy my craving for obscure Italian varietals, Cougar Winery is where I go.  They will be featuring their molto bene 2018 Estate Cask Montepulciano.  A mouthful to say, and a pleasing mouthful to savor, especially when paired with Cougar’s Arrabbiata red sauce Meatballs and garlic-rubbed Parmesan Crostini.  Two other seldom-quaffed varietals on Cougar’s wine-tasting menu: the 2016 Estate Sagrantino and the 2019 Estate Primitivo.  

Other De Portola wineries proffering up delectable sipables and edibles are Robert Renzoni Winery, Gershon Bachus Vintners, Oak Mountain Winery, Leoness Cellars, Danza Del Sol Winery, Frangipani Winery, Somerset Winery and Masia De La Vinya.  

Wanna do it?  Every year, Grapeline offers a shuttle service for those of you who already have your Big Red tickets, and an easy package deal for those who don’t (it includes the tickets and the shuttle service, at a slightly discounted rate).  Anyone riding with Grapeline gets expedited event check-in – which means less standing in line, more tasting the wine.  And, they get a host to take care of them, and a professional driver to keep them moving along safely.  

Prefer to go it alone?  You can get your Big Red tickets on the DWT website.  Designated Driver tickets are also available so a DD can enjoy the food, without the wine.


~ Kay Syrah

Wine Country Guru Gal

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