Valley News -

By Jeff Pack

Somerset Vineyard & Winery a group effort


Last updated 4/16/2019 at 12:10pm

Jeff Pack photo

Co-owner Kurt Tiedt pours wine for a visitor to Somerset Vineyard & Winery during a tour of the facility. The winery opened a few months ago on the De Portola Wine Trail.

When Kurt and John Tiedt were growing up in Placentia on Somerset Drive, the neighborhood friends they made were special - and they have their mom to thank.

"We had a mom that everyone loved in the neighborhood," said Kurt. "When someone would get hurt in the neighborhood, like a skinned knee or something, they would go to my mom's house and say, 'Hey, I got hurt.' They wouldn't go to their own parents. She put a Bandaid on their knee and give them a brownie and next thing we knew all the kids in the neighborhood would go over to her and then all have scraped knees cause they want the brownies."

The friends they made back then carried throughout their life and today, along with many of those original neighborhood kids, the Tiedts recently opened the doors on Somerset Vineyard & Winery, resurrecting the old Keyways Winery in De Portola Road.

"My mom bought me a book on how to make $1 million in real estate when I was 15 years old," Kurt said. "I read it and I said, 'Hey, that looks like a fun thing to do.' So, I took it to all my friends when we're young. We started buying real estate in our twenties and we purchased a lot of properties."

Kurt was the vice president of a bank after attending Cal State Fullerton and formed a syndicate of real estate investors from the friends he'd accumulated over the years.

"Basically we parlayed that into selling some of our properties off so we can take a chance and buy a winery," he said. "I mean, it's a piece of real estate, it's another real estate investment. But myself, Luis Torres, and Robert Trummeter who actually were the first three looking for a winery. Of course, my brother John as well. And we're looking for one to purchase for about 10 years."

Kurt said they had attempted to buy several other properties before settling on the old Keyways property. After some serious negotiating back and forth with the former owners on the troubled property and almost falling out of escrow for several reasons on several occasions, the deal finally went through.

Unfortunately, Trummeter wouldn't be there to see the dream come to a reality.

"Robert developed cancer and unfortunately he passed away about a year ago," Kurt said. "He was a big driving force of our group trying to buy the winery. And so his wife and his son are part of our group now."

Looking around at the property from a table overlooking the gardens and the winery that had to be rehabilitated and cleaned up after sitting dormant for so long, Kurt is excited.

Friends and partners, Luis Torres serves as Director of Winery Operations and Kim Scott is Director of Marketing, and they are having a blast.

"I mean basically we always love music, we love wine, we love entertainment," he said. "We thought this the perfect mix to have our friends go all together in a partnership to own something like this. It's a dream come true."

Winemaker David Raffaelle established the Rhône and Spanish winemaking programs at the vineyards in 2009 and he was hired by the group to continue working on the vines six months before the sale was completed.

"So we had about a quarter of a million dollars out to maintain the vineyards in the fields and the grapes and the wine to protect the property while we're in escrow," Kurt said. "If it didn't close, we were out that quarter of a million. But we got it. We remodeled the place, changed the furnishings, painted everything, fixed all the irrigation system, protected all the grapes, and remodel the house somewhat."

Currently, the one-story home on the estate is used as a short-term rental, but Kurt and his wife will be moving into the house in the next six months.

His love for the property that will soon be his home is evident in the way he talks about every little aspect of the property during the many tours the winery does every day. Kurt is first to jump on tour duty.

"My brother John actually does amazing tours here with me," he said. "Because that's what we have become known for is our tours, we give a lot of tours on the property because we want to introduce the winery back to the public - and they're really fun tours."

The atmosphere they are trying to create for Somerset is inviting and fun - they have live music several days of the week - but of course, they want to be serious winemakers as well.

Jeff Pack photo

Tiedt tells the story of Somerset during a tour.

"That's, that's our motto here," Kurt said. "We're friends and family and when everyone comes in, we treat them like a childhood friend and we invite them in.

"We have the most beautiful grounds here. We're lucky. We have 500 white rose bushes here, we have 50 olive trees that light up at night. We have Wysteria bushes, we have a beautiful garden in the center.

"So we want to be known as two things - we want to be known as a serious winemaker and we want to make really high-quality wine, but we also want to be a fun place to be."

Somerset Vineyard & Winery is at 37338 De Portola Road in Temecula. To schedule a tour or for more information, visit or call (951) 365-5522.

Jeff Pack can be contacted at [email protected]


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