Polo and Wine: A Natural Desert Delight

A Fresh Desert Tradition


Watching polo players and ponies thunder down emerald fields is an exhilarating experience. Tailgaters and fans line the boards to take in fast-paced action as they enjoy a feast for the eyes, as well as for the palate. Mallet blankets and picnic baskets dot the sidelines and are filled to the brim with tasty appetizers, snacks and bottles of wine.  Silver goblets sparkle in the sunshine as spectators enjoy an afternoon of Sunday polo and fine wine.

Nicknamed “The Sport of Kings,” polo draws a sophisticated group of players and spectators from around the globe. Understandably, wine is a favorite refreshment at polo games, and any proper polo match demands the traditional champagne divot stomp at halftime.  
With Temecula Valley’s wine country about an hour’s drive from Palm Springs, local wines produced by family-owned wineries are a favorite among the polo community at Empire Polo Club in Indio (81800 Avenue 51). The popular halftime divot stomp features complimentary champagne and sparkling wine from Temecula-based Wilson Creek Winery. Divot stompers can sample almond champagne or Grand Cuvee champagne, or try one of the winery’s sparkling wines, Peach Bellini or Orange Mimosa, as they tread in the divots.

Another historic tradition associated with the sport of polo is tailgating. Since many polo fields are located in rural areas at private clubs, players often pack a picnic lunch or supper and head to the club for the day. Even at public clubs, polo players spend the day there and don’t want to leave the polo grounds for meals. This has made tailgating a big part of the polo experience.  

Wine goes hand in hand with a polo tailgate party. Here are suggestions on what to pack in your basket. Temecula Valley wines pair well with a variety of polo picnic menus. Try coupling a 2009 White Feather Chardonnay produced by Longshadow Ranch Winery, or Ponte Winery's 2010 Vermentino, with slices of mild cheddar cheese, tangy olives, and smoked salmon.

If you enjoy reds, the Monte De Oro 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon is a perfect match to sharp cheddar or bleu cheese on slices of crispy French bread or crackers. If you’re grilling on the sidelines, a 2008 Falkner Cabernet or 2007 Driveway Red, a Bordeaux-style blend produced by Hart Winery, will bring out the flavor in steaks or gourmet hamburgers.  

Grilled chicken pairs well with Wiens Family Cellars 2009 Viognier, a white wine with aromas of pear, apricot, and honeysuckle with a nice, slightly sweet finish. You might also try a Baily 2009 Riesling, with aromas of apples and spice with your grilled chicken. It’s described by Baily Vineyard & Winery as “a wonderful picnic wine.”

With more than 30 wineries and 30 growers in the Temecula Valley, there are many options for your polo picnic wine pairings.  A quick day trip to Temecula is a great way to get familiar with the local wines, or spend the afternoon at Empire Polo Club on Jan. 29, as Temecula Valley wineries come to the desert for the annual Empire Polo & Wine Festival. Tasters will have the opportunity to sample handcrafted wines from more than a dozen Temecula wineries.

For more information about the Empire Polo & Wine Festival, view visit www.empirepolo.com. For more information about Temecula Valley wineries visit  www.temeculawines.org

Empire Polo Club 81-800 Avenue 51. Indio, CA 92201
Temecula Valley Wine Country, Exit I-15 at Rancho California Road in south Riverside County
Less than 65 miles from San Diego, Orange County and Palm Springs; 90 miles

Temecula wineries have received top honors at more than a dozen major wine competitions—including more than 100 Gold, Double Gold and Best In Class awards in 2010 alone. As a result, the Temecula Valley has become widely known as Southern California’s premiere winemaking region, featuring the following: Baily Vineyard & Winery, Bel Vino, Briar Rose Winery, Callaway Vineyard & Winery, Churon Winery, Cougar Vineyards & Winery, Danza del Sol Winery, Doffo Vineyard & Winery, Falkner Winery, Foot Path Winery, Frangipani Winery, Hart Winery, Keyways Vineyard & Winery, Leonesse Cellars, Longshadow Ranch Winery, Lorimar Winery, Maurice Car'rie Vineyard & Winery, Miramonte Winery, Monte de Oro Winery, Mount Palomar Winery, Oak Mountain Winery, Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery, Ponte Family Estate Winery, Robert Renzoni Vineyards, South Coast Winery Resort & Spa, Thornton Winery, Van Roekel Winery, Villa di Calabro Winery & Olive Oil Co., Vindemia Vineyards, Wiens Family Cellars, Wilson Creek Winery

Add your comment:
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Big Wheel Tours Brings Desert Wonders Closer

For Evan Trubee, a lifelong passion in cycling evolved into a 20 year business venture in outdoor-guided tours called Big Wheel Tours in Palm Desert.

Riding in Style at Caddyshack Golf Carts

Caddyshack Golf Cars in Palm Desert allows golfers to ride in style with a host of models including on-site service and assembly department.

SilverRock Golf Resort's Lush Beauty is Calling

The lush beauty of SilverRocks' Arnold Palm Classic Course in La Quinta is back in full bloom.

Peter Longo Stays in Golf By 'Trickery'

Had Peter Longo found success on the PGA Tour, countless thousands of spectators would have been deprived his trick shot talents.

Go Green: Overseeding Keeps Golf Courses Primed for Play

Find out why overseeding closes or severely limits play on Greater Palm Springs golf courses in October in preparation for the coming high season.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions + Contests

McCallum Theatre Broadway Blockbusters Experience!

McCallum Theatre Broadway Blockbusters Experience!

Enter just once for a chance to win tickets to one of the four 2015-2016 Broadway Blockbusters Series shows.
Romantic Palm Springs Getaway

Romantic Palm Springs Getaway

Experience the beauty, romance and excitement of the Palm Springs area when you enter to be the lucky winner of this romantic couples getaway
GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
Edit ModuleShow Tags