Temecula Wine Master

{TEMECULA} Wine Master
South Coast Winery's Jon McPherson Racks Up Award-Winning Wines.
By Patrick Bartlett
Inland Empire-September 2011 Page 237  

On a recent Friday afternoon I had the pleasure to sit down with Jon McPherson, winemaker at South Coast Winery in Temecula, to talk about his vibrant career as one of Temecula’s most respected winemakers. While sitting at the South Coast restaurant, Vineyard Rose, in the bar with an array of South Coast wines to taste, an intrigued visitor approached us thinking we were doing a wine tasting offered by the restaurant. He commented on how much fun we seemed to be having and asked if this was normal for the bar; after about four or five questions Jon finally answered that he was the South Coast winemaker. This simple exchange demonstrated McPherson’s affability. He avoided offering his South Coast winemaker title as a status symbol to this visitor; had he not been pressed he probably would have been content to say we were wine appreciators tasting the wines. South Coast Winery is one of the largest, busiest and most recognized wineries in Temecula. Along with the winery, South Coast offers a world-class resort/spa that attracts visitors internationally. South Coast has also been awarded the distinguished “Golden Bear Winery of the Year” award for two consecutive years. When tasting a South Coast wine, the question is not, “Which wines are multiple award winning wines?” but , “Which wines aren’t?”

McPherson, as the master winemaker, manages all the winery operation, including the tasting room and hospitality departments. He is originally from Lubbock, Texas, where his father grew from recreational garage winemaker to one of Texas’s most respected winery owners. His winery is Llano Estacado, located in Lubbock. Jon’s brother also owns a thriving winery, McPherson Cellars, in the same area and uses grapes from is still active 92-year-old father’s 25 acres of Texas Vineyards; you could say wine runs in the McPherson family’s veins.

Jon McPherson came to California in 1985 as the assistant winemaker at Culbertson’s Winery, which later became Thornton. He chose this winery because they only made sparkling wines, and that’s what McPherson wanted to focus on early in his career. He eventually moved his winemaking talents to the new-kid-on-the winery block, South Coast.

Jim Carter is the owner of South Coast , and has oversees real estate ventures across the country. But according to McPherson, Carter’s passion is farming grapes. As McPherson points out, “Having a boss like Jim, with his love of the grapes, is winemaker’s dream winery owner. Jim allows me to call the shots in the vineyards { with the understood caveat} as long as I don’t prune the grapes to one grape per vine!”
When you visit South Coast just watch and listen for the tall, silver-haired (he says platinum blond) guy with the Texas drawl and quick-witted one-liners- it will be McPherson. He will not only charm you with his South Coast wines but with his laid- back , easy going personality. Visit www.wineresort.com when planning your next trip to Temecula.

Patrick Barlett hold his advanced wine certification from the London Wine and Sprit Education Trust and is a chef. He is also the executive director for Temecula Valley Winery Management, a winery development company helping launch start-up artisanal wineries in Southern California.