I remember tasting Montemar wines at past Wine in the Pines events, and that a few friends were in love with their wines, especially their Pinot Noirs. When my #LAWineWriters group planned a trip to Lompoc I looked around to see who else I would like to visit, and remembered that Montemar was there. Besides Pinot they are also known for Rhônes – GSM blends and Syrah – as well as Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Chardonnay, Rose, Viognier, Grappa and more.
When I met up with owner Caryn Arrowood she gave me their wine list, and whew, there was a lot to choose from. (For a writer, who of course has to spit everything, I limited myself to varietals that I normally appreciate.) Caryn commented that they make “too many” of a lot of varietals. They do indeed, lucky us.
But before we got to tasting Caryn showed me their life-size chalkboard where visitors could write down their goals (sadly Caryn’s husband Steve had his life’s goals written there before he passed away due to cancer), organic garden (Caryn offered that we take anything we like home with us), their sandy beach (yes, you read that right), large paintings of popular musicians one of their club members had done and plenty of well-spaced seating areas. Now, I grew thirsty to taste.
The first wine we tasted, Caryn’s favorite and mine now as well, was their 2018 Grenache Blanc with delightful notes of fresh pineapple and fruit cocktail. Next up, a 2014 Sangiovese from Stolpman Vineyard, proved once again how great the Stolpman Vineyards are, and how a great winemaker can do great things with it. It had a beautiful nose filled with light red fruit, spice and brambles. Another wine with great fruit and spice, as well as mushrooms and violets, was the 2014 Grenache, I was now three for three in finding favorites at Montemar.
A dark, earthy, spicy wine with great balance, their 2014 GSM was the ticket. This rendition had 50% Syrah, 25% Grenache and 25% Mourvedre. A 2013 Syrah, Thompson Vineyard, had me at a “hello blueberry” youthful taste for a 2013, that also had a bright mint and some red earth notes to it.
Next up was their 2012 Syrah EBA (Extended Barrel Aged) from the Watchhill Vineyard. This wine has 12 more months in barrel, for a total of 30 months, before bottling. Caryn commented that this was “a good vineyard” for them. I got lots of red jammy fruit, pepper, crushed leaves, with a long tannic finish. Another favorite that lingered in my mind for a long time after tasting. Our final wine was a 2015 Petite Verdot from Happy Canyon. It was dark, dusty, with lots of great fruit and the most perfumed bouquet.
Note: Though Steve had been the winemaker for all of the wines we tasted, we learned that their son Kyle Arrowood, who Caryn said had been “a garage winemaker since he was a kid”, had taken up the helm. I look forward to returning and tasting Kyle’s vintages. The Arrowoods have long-time contracts with many vineyards where they can “control the fruit”, and I expect that to continue for many years to come.
1501 E. Chestnut Ct., STE E. Lompoc.
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits.