A few weeks ago, as guests of the Garner Valley Women’s Club, Jack and I covered a tour of vineyards in — would you guess? Garner Valley (tecnically, Pine Meadows) and Anza.
Garner Valley surrounds Thomas Mountain Vineyards, where our tour began, that Jim and Timmie Martens, retired trucking owners, began a few years ago.
Begun as a hobby, the vines surrounding their home now boast several varietals, especially including a few developed at the University of Minnesota, such as Frontenac, to withstand sub-zero Midwest weather. Sub-zero weather is not uncommon in Garner Valley. We enjoyed tasting a very buttery port the Martens bottle for themselves and friends.
Thomas Mountain Vineyards also occupies much more acreage in Anza below the western slope of that mountain where many more varietals of grapes grow in the sun. That was our next stop, where Jim stressed that wine grapes very much like the daily temperature changes between Anza’s warm days and cool nights.
We learned that Anza has seven vineyards and possibly will be the next big wine country in California.
I asked if anyone is now bottling for public sales and was introduced to Ed Walls, owner with his wife, Alice, of Rancho Del Sol, our next stop.
In a vine-covered bower at the Walls, the wineries jointly hosted an 18-wine blind tasting in which guests were asked to rate a wide range of wines — some even store bought — on a scale of one to five, a delicious chore we enjoyed immensely.
Two guests were given the special award of a bottle each of the wine they both selected as their top choice — revealed to be Two-Buck Chuck.
The Walls have produced a small amount of wine thus far for personal use — nothing yet for sale, but probably will be the first winery to open in Anza.
And thus will open the door for a boom to Anza that may carry over to our mountain communities. So, get ready.