That's exactly who Tom Plant from WINEormous Private Wine Tours is...Private Wine Guide Extarordinaire.
Recently, I and the most gracious Corie Maue of Taste of Temecula had the extreme honor to experience one of Tom's remarkable Private Wine Tours of the Temecula Wineries.
Our tour started, when Tom whisked Corie and I up from the Baron's parking lot at 10:30am and headed east on Rancho California Road to our first stop, Hart Winery. On our way, after we exchanged introductions and Good Mornings, Tom began to share with us his passionate and extensive knowledge of the Temecula Wineries and all the current events that are happening in Wine Country.
BTW - Tom's "Wine Coach" was very well equipped with plenty of bottled water, sun screen, sunglass holders and everything one would need for a perfect and comfortable day at the Temecula Wineries...
As we entered Hart Winery's tasting room, the first thoughts that entered my mind were; quaint, intimate and a feeling of family. We started with the 2008 Rousanne which was simply excellent. Then we went on to the 2008 Barbera, 2006 Tempranillo, 2009 Mourvedre and the 2005 Merlot, all were stellar, each in its own unique way. As a finale, we also took great pleasure in the 2008 Aleatico Dessert Wine, which was just like a blueberry dessert in a bottle - the taste was luscious!
Then, as often times happens when you are on a Private Wine Tour with Tom Plant, Christine Hart offered us rare barrel tastings of their 2010 Sauvignon Blanc and then Hart's newest red, "Blanc De Franc" which is a Cabernet Franc Rose. My most memorable experience here was observing Corie from "Taste of Temeucla" as she took in the first hint of the nose of the barrel taste of the Sauvignon Blanc and then watching the sheer satisfaction that appeared on her face and the subsequent true pleasure she took from that special tasting of what is sure to be an extraordinary vintage.
At Danza Del Sol we tasted their 2009 Chardonnay, 2009 Dos Blancos, 2009 Tempranillo, 2008 Syrah and finished with their 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon. All of these tastes made the experience of their new tasting room even more enjoyable.
Our next stop, Oak Mountain Winery... As soon as Tom set foot in the doors, he was greeted by Annie the manager. She gave him such a warm welcome hug, that it was just like seeing two good friends who have not seen each other for a while get re-acquainted. We were then introduced to Valerie the owner and Debbie the wine host. Both were as gracious and friendly as could be. What is so special about Oak Mountain Winery is that the warmth and friendliness we experienced here is what every visitor can expect, as do the many locals who greatly enjoy it also.
Here we tasted their Non Vintage Frisson, Raspberry Champagne (not too sweet and delightful), Their "Just Arrived" 2010 Fume Blanc, (literally, they just opened the first box as we arrived) 2010 Sauvignon Blanc and their 2009 "Estate" Pinotage. A rare wine in Temecula.
Oak Mountain Winery also features fabulous Avocado Oils and Vinegars that really caught Corie of "Taste of Temecula's" attention. So much so, that she bought a bottle of the Dark Sweet Cherry Balsamic Vinegar and two bottles of the Avocado Oils, Roasted Garlic and Roasted Chili.
Our adventure then continued to Palumbo Family Vineyards... This property is the true epitome of a family wine estate. In fact, Nicholas Palumbo was planting Cabernet Sauvignon grapes the day his daughter Sophia was born. This 5 acre part of the vineyard is now known as Sophia's Vineyard.
As we arrived, we met Cindy Palumbo and then we were also greeted by Debbie in the charming, cozy and picturesque tasting room. As soon as Nick Palumbo heard that Tom was on the property, he came to the tasting room and started to share his unique insights and expertise with us. I then realized that meeting the owner's of the wineries and having them share their stories with Tom and his guests, is just one of the very special advantages of taking Tom's Private Wine Tour.
Our still "wine desiring pallet's" then proceeded to enjoy Palumbo's 2009 Viognier, 2007 Syrah, 2007 Syrah/Mourvedre blend, 2007 Merlot and we finished up with the 2007 Tre Fratelli "Three Bothers", which is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon 40% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. All of these wines were exquisite and exhibited great degrees of complexity.
Our last stop, Doffo Winery. Here owner Marcelo Doffo prunes his vines and thins out the grape clusters throughout the growing season. All to maximize fruit concentration and ensure the highest quality in his grapes. As we enjoyed the tastings here, we truly experienced how much pride Marcelo takes in his 100% Estate grown limited production wines.
At this gem of a winery, we tasted their 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, 2008 Malbec, 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve, 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009 Malbec and 2008 Zin. We also relished in two of their dessert wines; Pinot Blanc Late Harvest and the ultimate Doffo Port with it's richness of fruit and spices.
As happens routinely with Tom when you're with him, Marcelo - as busy as he was - came over to Tom and gave him a huge hello and said in his terrific Argentinian accent "Follow Me!" Marcelo led us out to the back of his winery to the barrel and tank storage facility,where he gave us a "Barrel Tasting Fest"... He proceeded to fill our glasses, using his "thief" (barrel tasting siphon) with, 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, then his latest Zin and we finished with his latest Syrah. These 3 tastings were a perfect "finish" to a perfect day in Wine Country.
As often as I am in Temecula Wine Country, the greatest revelation I took away from this day, is that when you are with Tom Plant from WINEormous Private Wine Tours, you will find yourself treated like the ultimate wine connoisseur. This is true, regardless of whether you are in fact that or maybe perhaps, just beginning to experience the "World of Wine".
WINEormous Private Wine Tours
JUST RELEASED: Tom co-authored along with Linda Kissam of Slow Food, (their highly anticipated 100 Mile Dinner is on Saturday Feb. 5th @ 6pm at Ponte Winery) "A Recipe for Temecula Wine Country". A recipe book featuring the best recipes from the owner's and staff of the Temecula Wineries. Get your copy at one of the Wineries or Get Your Copy Here - Quantities Are Limited. Then have Tom personally sign it when you see him on a wine tour or just around Temecula - He'll be Happy to do it!