Our History

The Leoness Cellars Winery

The word Leoness, meaning "village of dreams," is the inspiration behind our lifelong quest to create world class wines from the finest vineyards in the Temecula Valley. Nestled in the rolling hills and vineyards of Temecula's Wine Country, Leoness Cellars offers a warm, enchanting setting where visitors can enjoy great wines, spectacular views, and wonderful times with family and friends.

Leoness Cellars is deeply rooted in the history of agriculture and farming in the Temecula Valley. Co-founder, Gary Winder, began farming in the valley in the early 1970’s with a focus on citrus and avocados. He founded Stage Ranch Farm Management in 1972 and quickly built a reputation in the valley for being a high quality farming business.  Gary was joined by Mike Rennie in the early 90’s and together they focused on growth of their vineyard operations. 

They founded Leoness Cellars in 2002, on a hilltop overlooking the beautiful Rolling Hills Vineyard Estate on De Portola. These 20 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon were planted in 1999 by Stage Ranch using the finest Cabernet clones and appropriate rootstocks.  The grapes from these vines have been used to craft some of the most enjoyable Leoness wines. Their vast experience has led to a true understanding of growing wine grapes of the highest quality; grapes that are concentrated, balanced, and ripe which will produce wines of incredible depth and flavor.

At Leoness we pride ourselves on being farmers first and it is our practice to ensure that Leoness Cellars gets the best fruit off its estate.  All the grapes used in the Leoness Cellars’ winemaking program are grown by us, Stage Ranch and Leoness Cellars, giving us complete control over the quality and exact specifications of our crops.

Together Mike and Gary have over 80 years of farming experience in the Temecula Valley.  Their operations have grown immensely and today they farm more than 500 acres of wine grape vineyards and 300 acres of citrus and avocado in the Temecula Valley. The vineyards they farm produce many of Temecula’s most respected and award-winning wines.

Among the wines produced at Leoness Cellars are Viognier, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, White Merlot, Muscat Canelli, and Cinsault Port, as well as small lots of other specially selected varietals. Each of our wines are carefully crafted to preserve the subtle flavors and nuances of the varietal. Our red wines, along with our Chardonnay, are aged for an extended period of time in a combination of small French and American oak barrels, adding softness and complexity to the wines, while our white wines are fermented slowly at cool temperatures, helping the wines to retain the fresh fruit flavors of the grape.