Winters in California aren’t much like what most states experience in the US. We’re lucky to live in Southern California where our winters are much more mild as far as temperatures and weather go, although we’ve had an exceptionally wet winter here, which is not of the norm! Temecula's already received over 14 inches of rain since July 2016, and there’s more on the way! All this rain has created a beautiful green valley and surrounding peaks topped with snow, which means the bounty of produce, olives and grapes is going to flourish this year.
During these winter months, you may be wondering what we do over here at Poggio Leano to prepare our club, vines, crops and gardens for the upcoming year. I assure you, it is way more than you could imagine, especially this year!
Alex’s life has been very busy lately and there are three things that have been taking his time: the Poggio Leano farm and vineyards, the construction of the new tasting room and the Poggio Leano suites in Sicily. A day in the life of Alex is always an adventure, not to mention he still runs Gourmet Italia, Spuntino and The Bar Next Door!
On the farm, they’ve just finished pruning 20 acres of grape vines. This is a huge task, given that each plant must be carefully pruned by hand with much care. Pruning the vines each year ensures a healthy crop of grapes for the upcoming season and for the many years to come.
Alex has also been germinating seeds from Sicily at the nursery for our upcoming summer gardens, and our winter garden has been growing bringing crops of spinach, broccoli, onions, fennel, fava beans and garlic to the restaurants. If you’ve ever grown a garden in your back yard, you know how much love and TLC it takes and somehow, Alex manages to grow these beautiful vegetables in large quantities all while he manages everything else! It just goes to show what you can do when you’re passionate about it!
He’s also been caring for our most recently acquired property on Sandia Creek, which we call “Avocado”. Set on 5 acres of land, this property is currently a working avocado grove. Once this years’ harvest is done, they will begin to prepare the land for our new “Montepulciano” vineyard.
Each day, Alex’s mornings are spent caring for the properties, but by noon you’ll often find him at Gourmet Italia overseeing his latest and newest project, the Gourmet Italia Tasting Room and Lounge Featuring Poggio Leano Winery and Club.
Set to open this spring, this project has been a huge undertaking as we build on to Gourmet Italia, renovating the space formally known as “Aloha J’s”. This new establishment will bring in a mixture of Italian and Spanish cuisine to be prepared by our newly hired chef who came here directly from Spain. We’ll be offering Italian tapas called “Piattini”, Poggio Leano Wines, private banquet and wine tasting rooms, and a beautiful new lounge for classy, well-dressed patrons to enjoy music ranging from jazz, to a piano bar setting, a DJ and more. Here, our guests will enjoy an upscale experience unlike anything you’ll find in the Temecula Valley area.
Lastly, we are in the completion phase of our new Poggio Leano Sicily Suites. Our highest tiered wine club, rightly named the “Passport to Sicily Club” offers our members a week’s stay at our family suites in Piazza Armerina in Sicily, Italy as part of their membership.
Imagine traveling to Sicily, staying in the beautiful 100+ year old building that Alex’s Grandfather built. Not only do you have gorgeous accommodations, but your merely footsteps away from the Piazza, shops, the Piazza Amerina Cathedral and more! You may even have a visit from Alex’s mom and dad while your there. And don’t forget, you also get to use the cute Fiat 500 or Vespa Scooters for an afternoon of cruising around, Italian-Style!
Alex is traveling to Sicily the first week of March to add the furniture and finishing touches to the suites. He’s been up nightly past midnight, ordering and working on the suites from afar; making phone calls, approving things and making sure the construction project stays on task. It’s not an easy feat being halfway around the world but nonetheless; it’s an exciting project bringing the family building back to life. The suites begin booking stays beginning in May and we’re excited to offer our members an authentic Italian experience they’ll not soon forget.
Next time you see Alex, you may be reminded of how arduous his days are, especially after reading this, and be curious how he does it all. Could it be the support of his amazing family, the wonderful dedicated staff he has or is there something special in that espresso? Who knows! I say it is the Italian passion that drives him.
You know what they say, “Find something you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” –Harvey Mackay