Ian Blackburn of WineLA (formerly Learn About Wine) has done it again – rallied a stellar list of wineries to offer samples of their latest vintages at this year’s Stars of Santa Barbara event, once again held at the prestigious Peninsula Beverly Hills Hotel. (Watch the event in a slide show here.)
STARS also included VIP winemaker speakers, 80s KROQ DJ Richard Blade taking requests, yummy noshables and a silent auction – with enough wine to deck out a great cellar – that benefitted the T.J Martell Foundation in supporting Leukemia, cancer and AIDS research.
VIP Session: Brian Loring and Greg Brewer
Winemakers Brian Loring of Loring Wine Company and Greg Brewer, Co-Founder Brewer Clifton Winery led the VIP session. Ian called these men two of the “top personalities” that were represented at the event. These are my take-away lessons:
The “sand and plankton” added to the “oceanic voice” of the Santa Rita Hills.
All estate vineyards from old Lompoc family farms, so these same family names are on their wine labels.
The fruit is “generous (and produces) lush, curvy, sexy wines.” They use the full cluster, like “nose to tail” as referenced in cooking. The stems and the flesh add to the long-lasting tannins.
Only problem in the industry is that though we don’t need to dumb down wine we do need to make it accessible and understandable to all.
Brewer got hooked on wine while working in a tasting room.
About ten years ago Wine Spectator named him and Brewer as 2 of the 10 to watch.
Unlike Brewer, Loring doesn’t use stems at all. Joked that it was due to his dislike of vegetables. His wines are big and plush on their own.
His 2006 Pinot Noir, closed with a screw cap, had aged well. Loring wanted people to see that the closure doesn’t affect the aging.
Loring, joking again, said he got into wine via a work release program from prison. However, like Brewer, he had started in the industry working in a wine shop, “hung out at harvest” and then, along with his sister, went full time.
Now, onto the tasting (I had a wee bit of a cold so I’m sure there were some great wines that I missed!)
Big Hits for Me
Westerly Wines, Fletcher’s Red, Happy Canyon Santa Barbara 2010.
All of the Pinots from the Bonaccorsi Wine Company.
Clos Pepe (yes this wine is still available for purchase) Axis Mundi Grenache/Syrah 2012.
Crawford Family Wines Syrah, Zotovich Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills 2014 and Second Street Cuvee, Ballard Canyon 2013.
Summerland Winery Trio (GSM Blend) – Paso Robles 2013.
Margerum Amaro and M5 Rhone Blend, Santa Barbara 2013.
Coquelicot Estates Wines Mon Amour Bordeaux Blend and Sixer Rhone Style Syrah, both Santa Ynez Valley 2012.
Everything from Stolpman: ‘L’Avion’ Roussanne, Stolpman Vineyards, Ballard Canyon 2013; Estate Syrah, Stolpman Vineyards, Ballard Canyon 2013; ‘Originals’ Syrah, Stolpman Vineyards, Ballard Canyon 2013 and ‘La Croce’ Red Blend, Stolpman Vineyards, Ballard Canyon 2013.
Rusack Zinfandel, Ballard Canyon Estate (one of my fave AVAs in the area), 2013.
Everything from Larner Vineyard and Winery: Estate Grenache 2012
Estate Mourvèdre 2012; “Elemental” Estate GSM 2011 and Estate Syrah 2011.
Two from Crawford Family Wines: Syrah, Zotovich Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills 2014 and Second Street Cuvee, Ballard Canyon 2013.
From Tercero, two stay-tuned-for new releases: 2015 Mourvedre Rose and 2015 Aberration (a red blend in stainless steel).
DV8 Cellars: GSM, Santa Barbara County 2012 and Syrah, Ballard Canyon 2012.
Refugio Ranch Vineyards Escondrijo blend (Syrah, Grenache, Petite Sirah) 2012 and my pick of the day: a killer Petite Sirah 2013.
From Wine LA
Dedicated to keeping the populous current on the developments growing out of Santa Barbara, this Annual Tasting Event features the namesakes, owners, winemakers pouring some of the best wine made in California. Long before Sideways, LearnAboutWine was bullish about the quality of Santa Barbara wine. Today, with the continued evolution of Santa Barbara we see Santa Rita Hills and Santa Maria focusing on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Santa Ynez, Los Olivos and specifically Ballard Canyon focusing on Syrah and Rhone varieties and Happy Canyon focusing on Bordeaux varietals. Santa Barbara continues to make smaller production wines that need a story to be told and we deliver on that promise. Come and meet the winemakers, passionate owners, and the farmers and see why Santa Barbara deserves a bigger part of your wine budget and why you should plan a number of visits in the months ahead
Bonaccorsi Wine Company
Brophy Clark Cellars
Ca’ Del Grevino Winery & Estate
Clos Pepe Estate
Coquelicot Estate Wines
Crawford Family Wines
Dolin Malibu Estate Vineyards
Jaffurs Wine Cellars
La Fenêtre Wines
Lafond & Santa Barbara Winery
Larner Vineyard & Winery
Loring Wine Company
Margerum Wine Company
Refugio Ranch Vineyards
The Brander Vineyard
William James Cellars
Zaca Mesa Winery And Vineyards
Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance
Ken Brown Wines
Kessler-Haak Vineyard & Winery
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 judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. 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