What do 3 winemaking couples in Simi Valley have in common with 2 winemaking couples in Santa Clarita besides, of course, wine?
Both have websites, belong to their local vintner’s association, a tasting room – or one very soon- and have met at the same crush pad in Paso Robles.
Thousand Oaks via Paso
Gary Stewart, one proprietor of Four Brix Wine, gave me a splash of things to come in their new dedicated tasting room open Sundays at WineYard in Thousand Oaks. The wine, soon-to-be in the SCV I hope, and the WineYard tasting room, were both new to me. Today I introduce them to you.
The WineYard, the only wine bar/store in Thousand Oaks, is about a 45-minute drive from Santa Clarita.
But instead of driving through a dessert to get there, I was rewarded by rolling grassy hills that could’ve easily been dotted with vines.
Once arriving I saw that guests could either sit outside and enjoy the weather with their wine, or choose from either the long indoor bar or tables close to the outdoors via large windows. There was more than enough wine between the cold unit, wine racks, and even more retail space behind the bar. Guests came in and made themselves comfortable and I settled in for the afternoon.
Now, onto our winemakers.
The Stewarts, Simonsgaards and Noonans, a mighty band of Rotarians, are making 5 California blended wines in old world styles from 11 single varietals, 9 vineyards and 6 appellations.
Born from their worldwide travels, wine tasting became a focused passion for the three couples. They hooked up with 20 other Simi Valley families, forming the Indian Meadows Vintners Association; the name based on the housing development they all lived in back in 2001.
Stewart is mostly self-taught, adding classes from UC Davis, and was mentored by winemaker Ryan Horn at the Vintner’s Vault in Paso; the other couples offered years of palate experience. I then offered up my own palate to try the swanky labels he had for Deductive (Zinfandel and Petite Syrah), Rhondevous (Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache) and my personal favorite, Scosso (Sangiovese, Cabernet, Merlot).
We chatted it up about getting Four Brix together with our local Pulchella for a wine tasting in the Santa Clarita Valley…and maybe the entire Ventura County Wine Trail will soon be brought to a wine bar near you…
Newhall via Paso
Much like Gary at Four Brix winery, Nate and I both have followed the path to commercial winery mostly from self-taught knowledge. We both starting making wine over ten years ago in our homes. Buying juice kits and learning the rules to making wine. Graduating to purchasing fruit from vineyards in small lots and fermenting in small bins.
For years as we learned the “rules” we started to notice that if you respected the “rules” but started to break them, the wine changed for the better. As we started to break the “rules”, the wine developed into something that was truly unique and complex.
It was around this time that friends and family started to comment on the quality of the wines and pushed us to start thinking of offering the wines for sale because they were standing up against some of the best commercial wines available. A hobby had officially turned into an infatuation at this point and we know there was no turning back. Our passion for making wine could not be overlooked and in 2007 we decided to file the permits and licenses to become a commercial winery.
Our philosophy was to produce very high concentrated and elegant wines in small lots to ensure we could continue to focus on quality and not let the quantity affect the final product. We are committed to only producing wines in lots of fewer than 100 cases each.
Our winemaking style is not driven by attending UC Davis classes on how to make wine, it’s driven by our past experiences, knowledge and respect for the process and continued passion to make the wines better every year.
Our tasting room will be opening soon in old town Newhall on Main Street and we hope you will come and support our passion.
Co owner / Winemaker
Eve Bushman has been reading, writing, taking coursework and tasting wine for over 20 years. She has obtained a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, has been the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and recently served as a guest judge for the L.A. International Wine Competition. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits that may be answered in a future column. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com