Winemaker Justin Willett of Tyler Winery is one of the most celebrated wine makes in the area. Some of the best talent in the world is flocking to Santa Barbara County as it is easily one of the most exciting areas of production in the world. There are only three places in the world that offer the breadth and diversity of microclimates as one can find in Santa Barbara County. Sitting at the confluence of the Alaska and Hawaii currents, Point Conception at the southwest corner of the county marks the turning point in cold vs. warm waters in the Pacific. Here where the cold currents associated with the rocky Pacific northwest give way to the gentle warm waters of Southern Califorrnia. Santa Barbara County is home to the coldest wine growing region in California, the Sta. Rita Hills. It is also home to Happy Canyon, a region much closer in climate to inland neighbor Paso Robles. Literally every grape you can think of grows in the 35 mile stretch between the two areas. Temperatures rise a degree per mile traveled inland during the growing season so wine makers can produce Riesling, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Petite Sirah, and any other grape known to man in the same winery. Only the Margaret River region of Western Australia and the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley in South Africa can make the same claim.
Wine maker Steve Clifton of Brewer-Clifton is also the owner of Palmina Vineyards, a boutique side project that focuses on Italian varietals that find a great home in Santa Barbara County. Arneis, Ribolla Gialla, Dolcetto, Barbera, even Nebbiolo all grow along side traditional French varietals.
Cult favorite Stolpman Vineyards finds its home in the brand new Ballard Canyon AVA in the center of the County. Rockstar wine maker Sashi Moorman makes wines of incredible density and intensity from these Rhone varietal plantings of Syrah, Grenache, Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier. Stolpman also produces unorthodox experimental bottlings like Trousseau and Carbonic Maceration Sangiovese. Above, Pete’s dog Baron gives us a tour of his favorite parts of the vineyard.
Pete Stolpman is also very proud of his newly plaanted vineyard that uses the same mother branch to produce all of the clones through this entire hillside. In a technique that is borrowed from Hermitage, this ensures an even expression of terroir throughout the grapes sourced from this vineyard. It is due to produce its first harvest next year!
St. Louis native Tyler Thomas stands in front of the Star Lane Vineyard in Happy Canyon. This vineyard sits at the base of the Dierberg Family Winery and is considered to be one of the pre-eminent sites for Cabernet Sauvignon in California.
The winery is a $35 million state of the art masterpiece. Jim and Mary Dierberg spared no expense and have one of the most state of the art facilities in the world. The emphasis on attention to detail and quality in the winery mirrors Tyler’s approach to winemaking. One of the most technically sound, and articulate wine makers I have run across, Tyler has the ability to make complex concepts make sense to everyone from novice to sommelier.
Some more scenes from the caves at Dierberg.
The view from the beach is not bad either considering it was 9 degrees back in St. Louis this day. Coincidetally, this was also the day I decided to officially join the team at Reeds!
An embarrasment of fresh seafood riches at the dinner table. Most notably the uni on the right, some of the best in the world.
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