Benny Rodriguez is rapidly emerging as a wine maker in his own right. He is a veteran 'behind the scenes' wine assistant for several well established valley wineries and has been working in the wine industry for over a decade and a half, including past experience at the original Cilurzo Winery, and more recently, quite a few years at Wilson Creek. This past year, Benny was named as the new full time wine maker for the Inn at Churon Winery, and immediately oversaw the re-grafting of many of their established vines, over to new varietals.
However, simultaneously, during the past few years, he has also been perfecting his art of becoming a "wine blender", at his own facility in Hemet, just a few miles northeast of Temecula Valley. Using Temecula and California AVA designated bulk wines, he has set about blending and the "finish" aging of two very impressive yet inexpensive wine releases. These are under his private label of Santa Maria Cellars. The two blends are Mourverdre/Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon, and are very drinkable now, and very satisfying.
Benny does not yet have his own tasting room for his wines, but Santa Maria Cellars' wines can be found exclusively available on the Internet, at a handful of local restaurants, and local wine retailers. Among them is, of course, is Temecula House of Wine on Front Street in Old Town Temecula.