Those of you who count Temecula as a favored day trip destination already know just how much that beautiful place has to offer. Those who don't are in for a rare treat.
From a sleepy little wide-spot in the road with a few mediocre wineries and a serious inferiority complex just a few years ago, Temecula has shed its gawky adolescence and is all grown up. Now this favored Wine Country destination boasts nearly 40 wineries, many of which are all-California in quality, with another 30 or so in the planning stages.
One of the premier offerings is the very popular Wiens Family Winery. Fortunately, Doug and Debbie Wiens, part of the ownership and management team for that fine facility, have brought a little of bit of Temecula to our piece of Orange County.
Let me introduce you to Orange Coast Winery (OCW). Located in a nondescript, shabby-chic industrial building in southwestern Costa Mesa, OCW opened about a year ago to rave reviews. Originally started by wine aficionado Gus DeFalco, Doug and Debbie bought it a few months later and began transforming it with the classic Wiens touch.
Doug, Inland Empire Magazine's Winemaker of the Year for 2011, makes all the wine for both Wiens Temecula and OCW. Debbie is in charge of winery management and probably everything else. It features many scrumptious white and red wines, from mild to wild (Wiens Temecula is known for its "Big Red" wines; OCW is no different), along with a heavenly orange-infused champagne. There's literally a wine for every taste.
Unlike a sit-down wine bar, of which we have several in the area, OCW is a "tasting room." That means you taste a sample of any six of their fine offerings for a reasonable fee. The knowledgeable and helpful tasting room staff will describe each of their offerings while helping you to ascertain your preferred tasting profile. They also offer tasty flat bread pizzas, cheese plates and salads to enhance your experience. And, as with every tasting room I've ever visited, the atmosphere is unassuming, convivial and pleasant, and laughter is always abundant. I've made many friends in tasting rooms throughout California and they are certain to be found at OCW as well.
OCW is just one block west of Placentia Avenue at 869 W. 16th Street in Costa Mesa. Summer tasting room hours are noon to 8 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The phone number is (949) 645-0400.
CHUCK CASSITY is a longtime Costa Mesa resident active in education, youth sports and other causes. His column appears every other Friday.