Wilson Creek Winery is coming of age and like all good wine endeavors, it’s getting better with time. On the cusp of nearly two decades in business, Wilson Creek continues to break new ground in defining what has become known as Temecula Wine Country.
From its humble beginnings in 2000 with one tasting room, one tent and one wine that seemed to take everyone by surprise, Wilson Creek is now a hub of wine country activity with no less than 12 tasting-room bars, five corporate meeting rooms, five wedding venues, an event center, restaurant, private wine club venue, a 12-suite exclusive-accommodation estate and more.
“We’ve come a long way since our opening in 2000,” says Bill Wilson, founder and co-owner of Wilson Creek Winery. “And, while much has changed here at the winery and in the valley, our focus, our mission is exactly the same as when we first started and that is to connect people and enhance their lives through wine.”
Part of the Wilson Creek legacy started on New Years Eve of 2000. It was an unofficial opening of sorts and a “Y2K” party to celebrate a new century. The Wilson family invited friends and family to the party and even blended a special wine for the occasion. The party was a success. Y2K didn’t blow up any computers, and the blended wine they made for the event became an instant best seller.
“Our Almond Sparkling Wine was almost an accident,” recalls Wilson. “My wife wanted to make a special wine for the party and at first things didn’t go so well. After several versions were created and abandoned for one reason or another, she came up with an “Almond Champagne.”
Wilson Creek now sells more than 125,000 cases of wine a year and their Almond Sparkling Wine continues to serve as an “introductory wine” that opens the door to their more complex offerings. “There are a lot of people who say our Almond Sparkling Wine put us on the map, and it did in a way,” says Wilson. “It certainly helped us grow, but the from the time we started we were more focused on our varietals and traditional offerings.”
That focus has paid off with Wilson Creek Wines winning prestigious awards—numerous gold medals at the California State Fair—every year since 2002. In a 2015 blind tasting, Wilson Creek’s Petite Sarah won “Best Red in the Valley,” at the annual Temecula Valley Winegrowers’ Association Awards. Wilson Creek is one of only a few wineries in Southern California to receive a 90+ ratings for its wines from Wine Enthusiast Magazine (2018). Wilson Creek wines are served around the world and are the “unofficial” wines for numerous U.S. Navy ships including eight aircraft carriers.
“Having our wines receive a 90+ ratings by Wine Enthusiast is truly special,” says Wilson. “It solidifies our reputation as a winery capable of producing world-class wines; and it puts on in a category with a select number of wineries in the State of California.”
Wilson Creek Winery has also been active in the community since its inception. The winery has won Temecula Valley’s “Business of the Year” four times. The winery is involved with numerous charitable events each year raising thousands of dollars for charities throughout the valley. Bill Wilson serves as a board member for the 20/20 Vision Committee, Temecula Valley Visitors Bureau, Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association and the Temecula Valley Water Board.
In 2018, Wilson Creek Winery added The Upper Room, a private dining and meeting area for wine club members, a new wedding site, “Cabernet Hill,” a private “In Vine Dining” area, several additional wine bars, and a totally revamped main tasting room.
“We’re almost done,” says Bill Wilson with a smile and his fingers crossed. “We’ve nearly tripled our wine tasting capacity this past year, we’ve increased our wine production and added several new wines. We have a great new wedding venue at Cabernet Hill. The Manor is flourishing with corporate and wedding activities. Everything is moving forward at an incredible pace.”
One thing that won’t change at Wilson Creek it the commitment to family. Almost the entire Wilson family has been involved with the winery since the beginning. On any given day, you will find Matriarch Rosie Wilson with her dog perusing the grounds, or any number of Wilsons at work behind the scenes. “We started the business as a family project, and everyone pitched in from day one,” says Wilson. “Through the years it has become a tradition to treat our guests as our extended family and make family a big part of the Wilson Creek experience.”
Like the fine wines it serves, Wilson Creek Winery keeps getting better with age.