Interview with Devin Parr, Visit Temecula Valley
Devin Parr is Wine Country Marketing Director at Visit Temecula Valley, an area in southern California that’s home to more than 30 wineries
Q Devin, tell us about Temecula Valley. What would you advise a first-time visitor to make their number one priority?
Temecula Valley is Southern California Wine Country. Centrally located between San Diego, Palm Springs, Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean, and home to over 40 wineries, from boutique to large-production, Temecula Valley is that hidden-gem wine region that we’re all hoping to discover before it gets too big for its britches. Tasting rooms are warm and welcoming, and we grow a veritable A-Z of grapes, so visitors are bound to find something they like. Many wineries also offer live music and other entertainment, as well as food service, a feature unique to the region, as most other wine destinations in California are prohibited from doing so. My recommendation to a first-time visitor would be to come mid-week, when the odds of meeting a winemaker or winery owner on-site and getting a spontaneous private tour or barrel sample run high! Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country has this fantastic inclusiveness that really invites wine lovers of all kinds to explore, ask questions and hopefully discover new favorites. And, of course, being in sunny Southern California doesn’t hurt.
Q Temecula Valley has been growing grapes since the 1700s. What makes it such a special place for wine growing?
Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country has a Mediterranean-like climate marked by long, warm days moderated by the ocean breeze that blows through the “Rainbow Gap” in the coastal mountains, and cool nights – a grape grower’s (and vacationer’s!) dream. The warm, sunny days allow the grapes to achieve full ripeness, while the cool nights ensure that proper acidity is maintained, allowing for robust but wonderfully balanced wines. The region is also home to a community of winemakers, winery owners, farmers, chefs, tasting room professionals and entrepreneurs who are inspired by the promise of the region. Every day, they bring deep passion, innovation and joy to their work, and readily share this with visitors.
Q You met Thomson & Scott founder Amanda Thomson at Wine Vision, an annual event and this year held in Sonoma County. It’s described as the leading strategy and innovation forum in the international wine calendar. Was it your first visit?
Yes! This was my first time at Wine Vision. To be honest, I wasn’t very familiar with the conference at all until I saw it was being hosted in Sonoma. Meeting Amanda was a highlight. She’s such a dynamic, business-savvy individual – very in line with the type of person I would anticipate meeting at a conference named “Wine Vision.”
Q Did you learn anything amazing at Wine Vision this year?
One of my main takeaways is that it’s very easy to get bogged down in the minutiae of our day-to-day jobs and focus only on the issues or developments that directly impact our own businesses. However, it is absolutely imperative that we stop regularly to see what is going on in the global wine community. Whether it’s inspiration, innovation or new business partnerships we are seeking, there is SO much going on outside of our little bubbles (no pun intended!) that we need to make broadening our horizons in this respect a real priority. I also learned some pretty fascinating things about our body’s ability to process alcohol as it relates to our genetics from Dr. Ahmed El-Sohemy, Canada Research Chair in Nutrigenomics at the University of Toronto, and Chief Scientific Officer at Nutrigenomix.
Q Have you tried Thomson & Scott Skinny Champagne and Prosecco?
I have not and I’m dying to! As a die-hard fan of the flavour profile of zero dosage/brut nature bubbly, I know the product line will be right up my alley. Please start distributing in the U.S.!
Q Well, we’d love you to come to the UK! Is there anything wine-related you’d like to see or do here?
Aside from enjoying several bottles of Thomson & Scott with Amanda, hopefully? I have read so much about the high quality of sparkling wine being produced in England, so I’m very eager to get my hands on some, as I have yet to taste any. Wine Enthusiast also just listed London one of the best wine travel destinations for 2017, so my dream would be to rip out that page from the magazine and visit every spot mentioned in the article! I’ll be looking for a tour guide, of course, so if you guys are free…