Tag Archives: estate

Williams Selyem Winery | Healdsburg, CA

Williams Selyem Winery

Williams Selyem Winery

If I had to declare a favorite wine, without hesitation it would be Pinot Noir.  There are a million other varietals that I love to drink but in my mind, nothing compares to an amazing Pinot.  And this weekend I had the opportunity to visit one of my favorite California Pinot Noir makers, Williams Selyem.

The Williams Selyem Winery is perched on a gorgeous piece of property in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma, CA – a place where the delicate and often finicky Pinot Noir grape tends to thrive.

A gorgeous Fall day in the Russian River Valley

A perfect Fall day in the Russian River Valley

Gorgeous Fall day in the Russian River Valley

Vibrant Fall colors in the Russian River Valley

Unmarked & gated entry to Williams Selyem Winery

Unmarked & gated entry to the Williams Selyem Winery

entry

Fruit orchards line the driveway up to the Williams Selyem Winery

Williams Selyem has a deep-rooted history in the Russian River Valley.  In 1979, friends Ed Selyem and Burt Williams started making wine in a garage in Forestville, CA using fruit from local vineyards.  They called their winery Hacienda Del Rio until 1983 when they received a cease & desist letter from Hacienda Winery, asking them not to use the name Hacienda on their label.

Fall colors in the Williams Selyem Estate vineyards

Fall colors in the Estate vineyards that line the drive up to the Williams Selyem Winery

Fall colors in the Williams Selyem Estate Vineyards

Fall colors in the Williams Selyem Estate Vineyards

Williams Selyem

Fall colors in the Williams Selyem Estate Vineyards

In 1984, the winery was officially changed to Williams Selyem and over the few decades that followed, Williams Selyem grew into the iconic label it is today.  Ed and Burt sold the winery to John Dyson in 1998 who then developed the first Williams Selyem Estate Vineyard, hired accomplished winemaker Bob Cabral, and constructed the winery’s ultramodern facility.

The stunning Williams Selyem winery

The stunning Williams Selyem Winery

The stunning Williams Selyem winery

Williams Selyem Winery

Million dollar views all around...

Million dollar views all around…

The stunning Williams Selyem Winery

Williams Selyem Winery

Access to Williams Selyem isn’t particularly easy.  In order to purchase their wines, you must secure a spot on their mailing list – called the WS List –  which currently has a wait of 9-12 months.  A tasting at Williams Selyem also requires a spot on the WS List and an appointment that needs to be booked at least two weeks in advance.

However, this allows the winery to continue its legacy of offering superior, low production, handcrafted wines to its devotees, and makes for a very personal, intimate tasting experience.  Quality is everything at Williams Selyem and it’s something they’ll never compromise for the sake of upping production.  Often it means there isn’t enough wine to go around, but that’s what makes their wine truly exceptional.

The stunning Williams Selyem winery

Williams Selyem Winery

Inside the Williams Selyem winery

Inside the Williams Selyem Winery

Williams Selyem winery

Williams Selyem Winery

Williams Selyem Winery

Williams Selyem Winery

When we arrived for our tasting, we were greeted by two incredibly kind and informative staff members who presented us with an original bottle of 1981 Hacienda Del Rio Sonoma County Pinot Noir.  The bottle was empty of course, but I thought it was such a cool way to begin our tasting.

An original bottle of the 1981 vintage of Hacienda De Rio Sonoma County Pinot Noir

An original bottle of the 1981 vintage of Hacienda De Rio Sonoma County Pinot Noir

We then sat down at our own table where we tasted though the current portfolio, which included 3 Chardonnays (one was a special bonus – a 2000 Allen Vineyard Chardonnay!), 2 Pinot Noirs and 1 Port (another bonus treat!).  Because the wines on the distribution list sell out instantly, the selection we got to sample were “tasting room exclusives” and only available to visitors.  I was excited to add a couple more bottles to my ever-growing collection.

We tasted 3 Williams Selyem Chardonnays, including a very cool

We tasted 3 Williams Selyem Chardonnays, including a sample of the 2000 Allen Vineyard Chardonnay.  It was such a treat… like nothing I’ve ever tasted.

Our tasting menu for the day

Our tasting menu for the day

A delicious & incredibly well balanced 2009

An incredibly well-balanced 2009 Port from the Vista Verde Vineyard

At the end of the tasting, we were given a tour of the state-of-the-art winery and breathtaking property.  I’m already looking forward to returning in May for the next member pick up party.

The beautiful Williams Selyem winery

The beautiful Williams Selyem Winery

The beautiful Williams Selyem Winery

Williams Selyem Winery

Williams Selyem Winery

Williams Selyem Winery

The barrel room at Williams Selyem Winery

The barrel room at Williams Selyem Winery

A very cool system to help prevent insects from eating the barrels

A very cool Birch wrapping system which helps prevent insects from eating the barrels.  Basically it’s a natural form of pest control.

Williams Selyem Winery

Williams Selyem Winery

Williams Selyem Winery

Williams Selyem Winery

I truly can’t say enough about wines of Williams Selyem.  The Pinot Noirs are some of the best I’ve ever tasted and the rest of their wine portfolio is first-class.  There’s a reason they’ve developed a cult following and a world-class reputation.  If you’re Pinot fanatic and haven’t tried Williams Selyem, I recommend you get on the waiting list immediately.  I guarantee you’ll fall in love too…

WILLIAMS SELYEM WINERY

*** PLEASE NOTE:  Winery is not open to the public.  Tours & tastings are by appointment for WS List members only ***

7227 Westside Road
Healdsburg, CA 95448
Phone:  (707) 433-6425
Email (tours & tastings for WS List members): tours@williamsselyem.com

Law Estate Wines | Paso Robles, CA — A Post-Opening Update…

Last time I visited Law Estate Wines, it was more of a construction site than a finished project.  This past weekend, I visited the winery again in its completed form and was utterly blown away.  From the friendly and personal attention of the staff to the breathtaking architecture to the incredible wines, Law Estate is beyond compare.

I feel like the photos speak volumes without me saying a word.  Enjoy a look around this amazing place…

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Exterior

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Main Entry

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Entry Interior

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Indoor Tasting Area

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Indoor Tasting Area

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Indoor Tasting Area

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Indoor Tasting Area

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Hilltop Vineyards

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Outdoor Tasting Area w/ Fireplace

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Outdoor Tasting Area

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Stunning Architecture by BAR Architects

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Outdoor Tasting Area

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Custom Fermentation Tanks

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Aging Room

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Aging the 2012 AUDACIOUS (one of my personal favorites)

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Wine Library

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – 2011 “THE NINES”

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Wine Library

Due to overwhelming interest in their 2010 vintage, Law Estate’s current releases are sold out (and from what I understand, the tasting room is closed) until they unveil the 2011’s in early September.  Be sure to plan for a visit this Fall because, based on what I got a chance to sample this weekend, the 2011’s are tasting even more delicious than the 2010’s.

Thanks again to Melissa, Oliver, and everyone at Law Estate Wines.  I’m sure I’ll see you again soon…

LAW ESTATE WINES
3885 Peachy Canyon Road
Paso Robles, CA  93446
Phone:  (805) 226-9200
Email:  info@lawestatewines.com
* Tasting room will re-open for visitors in September 2014 by appointment only.  Check the Law Estate Wines website for updates.

 

Babcock Winery & Vineyards | Lompoc, CA

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

One of my favorite new wineries is actually not new at all. Established in 1978, Babcock Winery & Vineyards in Lompoc, CA has a rich history in the Santa Ynez Valley and is one of the best producers of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir around.

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Back in 1978, Mona & Walter Babcock purchased a 110 acre property on Highway 246 near Lompoc where they planted 20 acres of Riesling, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, and sold small amounts of fruit to some of the most prominent local winemakers.

The beautiful vineyards around Babcock Winery & Vineyards

The beautiful vineyards around Babcock Winery & Vineyards

The beautiful vineyards around Babcock Winery & Vineyards

The beautiful vineyards around Babcock Winery & Vineyards

As rave reviews starting pouring in for the wines produced using fruit from their vineyard, the Babcock’s decided to open a small winery and started producing their own wines.  And the rest is history.

Mona & Walter’s son, Bryan has been crafting small-lot, terroir driven wines from the gorgeous Babcock Winery in the Santa Rita Hills since the early 1980’s.  The winery is still family owned and operated to this day.

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

I just FINALLY visited Babcock for the first time about a month ago and had the good fortune of visiting during their annual open house weekend.  The first thing I noticed was the uber cool tasting room, which had a vintage, rock star vibe and was surrounded by the most gorgeous rolling vineyards.  For dog owners, Babcock is very dog-friendly as long as they are kept on a leash.

The Babcock Winery & Vineyards tasting room

The Babcock Winery & Vineyards tasting room

Inside the Babcock Winery & Vineyards tasting room

Inside the Babcock Winery & Vineyards tasting room

Inside the Babcock Winery & Vineyards tasting room

Inside the Babcock Winery & Vineyards tasting room

Inside the Babcock Winery & Vineyards tasting room

Inside the Babcock Winery & Vineyards tasting room

Inside the Babcock Winery & Vineyards tasting room

Inside the Babcock Winery & Vineyards tasting room

Since it was the annual open house, I had a rare chance to taste Babcock’s entire portfolio of wines, as well as an opportunity to try two incredible, yet-to-be-released wines at the futures barrel tasting.  I was truly blown away.

Annual open house at Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Annual open house at Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

I was impressed by the first few wines we tried, which included a 2012 Estate Grown Sauvignon Blanc and a 2011 “Upper Crust” Syrah.  As we worked our way through the list to the “Terroir Extraordinaire” offerings, the wines became more complex and multi-layered.  Bryan’s attention to detail and winemaking expertise was evident in each and every sip.

Beautiful outdoor seating area at Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Beautiful outdoor seating area at Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Beautiful outdoor area at Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Beautiful outdoor area at Babcock Winery & Vineyards

I would have loved to take home a bottle of each wine I tried, but I narrowed my selection to a 2012 “Microcosm” Pinot Noir for which there are simply no words, a juicy 2012 “Precocious” Pinot Noir, and a couple bottles of the yet-to-be-released 2013 “The Limit” Chardonnay from the Radian Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills.

The Soulstruck Lounge at Babcock Winery & Vineyards

The Soulstruck Lounge at Babcock Winery & Vineyards where the futures barrel tastings took place

The Soulstruck Lounge at Babcock Winery & Vineyards

The cool, mid-century inspired Soulstruck Lounge at Babcock Winery & Vineyards

The cool, mid-century inspired Soulstruck Lounge at Babcock Winery & Vineyards

The cool, mid-century inspired Soulstruck Lounge at Babcock Winery & Vineyards

The cool, mid-century inspired Soulstruck Lounge at Babcock Winery & Vineyards

The cool, mid-century inspired Soulstruck Lounge at Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

I honestly can’t believe it took me so long to visit Babcock Winery & Vineyards, but I’m very glad I did.  Babcock is not to be missed.

Click here to visit the Babcock Winery & Vineyards website.

BABCOCK WINERY & VINEYARDS
5175 E. Highway 246
Lompoc, CA  93436
Phone:  (805) 736-1455
Tasting room hours: 10:30AM – 5:00PM Daily

Law Estate Wines | Paso Robles, CA

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

During my last visit to Paso Robles, I had the honor of visiting the soon-to-be-open Law Estate Winery.  From the modern, architecturally stunning winery & tasting room to the impeccably crafted wines, I was blown away by the experience.

Making our way up the gravel drive to Law Estate Wines

Making our way up the gravel drive to Law Estate Wines

Perched high above Peachy Canyon Road on the westside of Paso Robles, the Law Estate Winery offers visitors picture-perfect views of the sweeping Law Family Vineyards below.  When we arrived, we were greeted by general manager Oliver Esparham, who guided us through a tasting of the Law Estate wines.

Sweeping views at Law Estate Wines

Sweeping views at Law Estate Wines

Views at Law Estate Wines

Views at Law Estate Wines

Views at Law Estate Wines

Views at Law Estate Wines

Currently, the portfolio includes four wines from the winery’s first vintage, 2010.  We tried the Audacious (44% Grenache, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah, 10% Petit Sirah), Beguiling (94% Grenache, 6% Syrah), Sagacious (44% Grenache, 42% Syrah, 14% Mourvedre), and Intrepid (100% Syrah).

Our "tasting room" for the afternoon with a beautiful view

Our “tasting room” for the afternoon with a beautiful view

Winemaker Scott Hawley is known for making wines that are an expression of their place, showcasing the very best of what the vineyard has to offer.  His passion for winemaking and meticulous attention to detail is evident in the final product, as each of these wines was truly exceptional.

The current Law Estate Wine portfolio

The current Law Estate Wine portfolio

The current Law Estate Wine portfolio

The current Law Estate Wine portfolio

I personally loved the Audacious, which had an elegant hint of acidity, the Sagacious with a perfect marriage of ripe juiciness and spice, and the complex yet wonderfully balanced Intrepid Syrah.

After tasting the wines and learning more about the incredible dream proprietors Don and Susie Law are turning into a reality, we were taken on a tour of the property.

Exterior view of the kitchen

Exterior view of the kitchen

Exterior view of the three story production facility

Exterior view of the three story production facility

Exterior view of guest entry at Law Estate Wines

Exterior view of guest entry at Law Estate Wines

More exterior views at Law Estate Wines

More exterior views at Law Estate Wines

More exterior views at Law Estate Wines

More exterior views at Law Estate Wines

When construction is completed, Law Estate will include a tasting room with panoramic estate vineyard views, a wine garden and outdoor fireplace, a kitchen where Orion Stang of Dilecta Wines will showcase his culinary skills, and a state of the art production facility which was completed just in time for the 2013 harvest.  It really is a contemporary architectural masterpiece.

State of the art fermentation tanks

State of the art fermentation tanks

State of the art fermentation tanks

State of the art fermentation tanks

Stainless steel tanks

Stainless steel tanks

Concrete fermenter

Concrete fermenter

Oliver explained that tastings at Law Estate will be unique in that visitors will make an appointment and will be given individualized attention by a member of the tasting room staff.  This means no crowding around a tasting counter with staff trying to remember which wine to pour next.  I personally love the idea and think it will elevate the entire tasting experience.

Barrel aging at Law Estate WInes

Barrel aging at Law Estate Wines

Oliver Esparham discussing barrel aging

Oliver Esparham discussing barrel aging

Blending room where the delicious Law Estate wines are perfected

Blending room where the delicious Law Estate wines are perfected

Beautiful late afternoon views at Law Estate Wines

Beautiful late afternoon views at Law Estate Wines

After our tour came to an end, we purchased a few bottles (all of which are priced equally at $62/bottle) and thanked Oliver for showing us around.  Thanks also to tasting room manager Kathleen Naughton for helping make our visit possible.

I truly can’t recommend Law Estate more and am so excited to see the property when construction has ended.  Stay tuned for the official opening, which will hopefully be in December or early 2014.  Law Estate is not to be missed.

Click here to visit the Law Estate Wines website.

LAW ESTATE WINES
3885 Peachy Canyon Road
Paso Robles, CA  93446
Phone:  (805) 226-9200
Email:  info@lawestatewines.com
* Tasting room is not yet open for visitors.

Paraiso Vineyards | Monterey County, CA

Paraiso Vineyards

Paraiso Vineyards

There is something magical about the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey County, CA.  Whether it’s the cloudless blue skies, the cool breezes that float through the Salinas Valley or the sweeping views from the hillside vineyards, there’s something truly intoxicating about the area.

The view from Paraiso Vineyards

The view from Paraiso Vineyards

Paraiso Vineyards

Paraiso Vineyards

During my last visit, I spent an afternoon at Paraiso Vineyards.  Paraiso is one of the 13 or so tasting rooms located along the River Road Wine Trail, which is the main tasting route through the Valley.

Paraiso Vineyards is owned and operated by the Smith family – one of the first wine grape growing families in the Santa Lucia Highlands.  The Smith family settled in the area in the early 1970’s and they’ve been crafting delicious, small production wines for 40 years.

Paraiso Vineyard

Paraiso Vineyard Tasting Room

Located high above River Road, the views at Paraiso Vineyards are absolutely stunning.  We grabbed our first taste – a 2010 Chardonnay – and headed outside to sit on the deck and enjoy the gorgeous day.

Paraiso Vineyards - the perfect place for a dream wedding

Paraiso Vineyards – the perfect place for a dream wedding

Paraiso Vineyards

Paraiso Vineyards

Our tasting included 7 wines for a $5 fee.  All the wines we tried were estate grown with the exception of a juicy 2009 “Irie” Zinfandel crafted from Paso Robles grapes by third generation Smith family member, Justin Murphy.

Our dog Booker enjoying the view

Our dog Booker enjoying the view

Paraiso Vineyards

Paraiso Vineyards

Paraiso Vineyards

Paraiso Vineyards

Not only were all the wines we tasted really good, but they were also surprisingly affordable with the most expensive bottle – the 2008 “Wedding Hill” Syrah – priced at $45.  My personal favorites were the 2010 Riesling ($16) which is made of grapes selected from 35 year old vines, and the 2009 Estate Pinot Noir ($25).

We spent nearly two hours sitting outside at Paraiso and could have easily spent another two enjoying the gorgeous views.  Paraiso Vineyards is a beautiful winery with beautiful wines to match.

Click here to visit the Paraiso Vineyards website.

PARAISO VINEYARDS
38060 Paraiso Springs Road
Soledad, CA  93960
Phone:  (831) 678-0300
Tasting room hours: 11AM – 4PM Weekdays; 11AM – 5PM Weekends

De Tierra Vineyards | Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA

De Tierra Vineyards tasting room

De Tierra Vineyards tasting room

Carmel-By-The-Sea is by far one of my favorite places in California. During a recent visit, I had the opportunity to visit a few of the many tasting rooms located right in town.

With over 13 tasting rooms within walking distance from one another, it’s easy to leave your car behind and spend a day strolling around town sampling great Monterey County wines.

Carmel-By-The-Sea tasting rooms

Carmel-By-The-Sea tasting rooms

Not only is Carmel-By-The-Sea gorgeous and very walkable, it’s also the most dog-friendly town I’ve ever visited. Tasting rooms, restaurants, beaches and shops all seem to welcome furry friends with open arms, and often have a water bowl and some treats to share.

Booker enjoying a morning run on the Carmel-By-The-Sea beach

Booker enjoying a morning run on the Carmel-By-The-Sea beach

One particular day, we decided to try the wines of De Tierra Vineyards. We wanted to get some food first and walked to town on a quintessential Carmel-By-The-Sea morning – foggy and a bit chilly with the scent of pine permeating the air. Just perfect.

Breakfast at Katy's Place

Breakfast at Katy’s Place

We decided to grab a late breakfast at Katy’s Place – a popular local spot with great food and a dog-friendly patio. I highly recommend Katy’s Place if you’re visiting town. Just remember to stop at the ATM first as it’s “cash only”.

Our dog Booker was able to join us on the patio for Breakfast

Our dog Booker was able to join us on the patio for breakfast

After breakfast, we headed a few doors down the street to the De Tierra Vineyards tasting room. De Tierra came highly recommended by a few local wine aficionados, so I was very excited for our tasting.

De Tierra Vineyards tasting room

De Tierra Vineyards tasting room

When we walked in, we were immediately greeted by Chris who took us through the portfolio of hand-crafted De Tierra wines.   We opted to try 6 wines for a $15 tasting fee.

De Tierra Vineyards

De Tierra Vineyards

Inside the De Tierra Vineyards tasting room

Inside the De Tierra Vineyards tasting room

I had a tough time choosing my favorites, but I ended up buying a couple bottles of 2011 “Vindegard” Chardonnay ($26), 2009 “Reserve” Chardonnay ($30), and 2011 “The Puzzler” – a blend of Merlot & Syrah ($26).  I’m not a huge fan of sweet wines, but I was also tempted to buy a bottle of nicely balanced 2006 EKEM Late Harvest Pinot Gris ($32).  I’ll have to save that for next time.

Inside the De Tierra Vineyards tasting room.  The Corral de Tierra area is located on the Monterey Peninsula between the Santa Lucia Highlands and Carmel Valley where winemaker Tom Russell & his wife Carol own their home & winery.

The Corral de Tierra area is located on the Monterey Peninsula between the Santa Lucia Highlands & Carmel Valley where De Tierra’s winemaker Tom Russell & his wife Carol own their home & artisan winery.

De Tierra Vineyards "Vindegard" Chardonnay

De Tierra Vineyards “Vindegard” Chardonnay

During our tasting, we also enjoyed some fresh baguette and amazing olive oil.  After raving about how good it was, we discovered the olive oil also comes from the Corral de Tierra estate of Tom Russell, owner of De Tierra Vineyards.  The olive oil is available for purchase in the tasting room for $20 per bottle.

Inside the De Tierra Vineyards tasting room

Inside the De Tierra Vineyards tasting room

Overall the wines at De Tierra Vineyards were fantastic and the vibe of the tasting room was warm and welcoming.  I couldn’t think of a better place to spend an afternoon.  Be sure to stop by if you’re in town.  I’m already dreaming about my next visit…

Click here to visit the De Tierra Vineyards website.

DE TIERRA VINEYARDS
Misson Street & 5th Avenue
Carmel, CA  93921
Phone:  (831) 754-3176
Email:  info@detierra.com
Tasting room hours: 2PM – 8PM Tuesday through Thursday; 11AM – 8PM Friday through Sunday

Exploring the Lompoc Wine Ghetto – Part 1

Lompoc Wine Ghetto

Lompoc Wine Ghetto

I’ve known about the Lompoc Wine Ghetto for ages, but for some reason, I never had a strong desire to visit. I had a preconceived notion that it was an easy access, multiple tasting room destination that catered to those who prefer quantity over quality. After visiting for the first time this weekend, I could not have been more wrong.

Tucked away in an industrial park in Lompoc, the Wine Ghetto is home to nearly 20 tasting rooms. It isn’t as visually appealing as some of the picturesque wineries in the area, but that’s what I loved about it. It actually deters large groups traveling in wine tour buses and limos. After all, it’s not exactly a place where you’d want to have your bachelorette party photos taken.

It didn’t take me long to realize that the Lompoc Wine Ghetto is very serious about wine. In the casual and inviting tasting rooms, passionate wine makers are pouring some incredible, super low production wines for their equally passionate fans.

Jalama Wines

Jalama Wines

Considering the number of tasting rooms in the Ghetto, I decided to try two during this visit and will continue my exploration over the weeks to come. My first stop was Jalama Wines.

Jalama Wines

Jalama Wines

When I pulled up to the Jalama Wines tasting room, I was very happy to see one of the resident winery dogs napping on the sidewalk outside. I discovered that almost all the tasting rooms in the Wine Ghetto allow dogs as long as they’re leashed and well-behaved. It made my desire to explore the area even stronger.

Inside the Jalama Wines tasting room

Inside the Jalama Wines tasting room

Winery dog Oscar relaxing in the Jalama tasting room

Winery dog Oscar relaxing in the Jalama tasting room

Once inside the tasting room, I was greeted by Mark Cargasacchi – the winemaker at Jalama who was guiding tasters through his portfolio of small lot, handmade Pinot Noirs, Grenaches and Syrahs.

Jalama Wines

Jalama Wines

A nice cheese & cracker plate to accompany the line up of Jalama Wines

A nice cheese & cracker plate to accompany the line up of Jalama Wines

The tasting at Jalama consisted of six wines, all of which were seriously good – complex, well-balanced and obviously crafted with care. I took home bottles of of tart 2011 Mourvedre ($36) and full-bodied, multi-layered 2009 “El Capitan” red blend ($36). I also loved the 2011 “Clementina” white blend ($26), which was full of mouthwatering tropical fruit, and the 2010 “Carg” Pinot Noir ($46).

Inside the Jalama Wines tasting room

Inside the Jalama Wines tasting room

For my next stop, I decided to try Zotovich Cellars.

Zotovich Cellars

Zotovich Cellars

Booker joined me in the tasting room and immediately made himself comfortable on the cold stone floor while tasting room manager Chelsea poured my first taste.

Tasting menu at Zotovich Cellars

Tasting menu at Zotovich Cellars

Booker made himself comfy on the cool tasting room floor

Booker made himself comfy on the cool tasting room floor

The tasting at Zotovich Cellars consisted of four wines (with a bonus taste of insanely good, wine club exclusive Viognier). Honestly, I was blown away by all the wines at Zotovich. The Chardonnay was beautifully balanced, the Rosé was like a glass of summertime with lots of strawberry and a nice crispness, the Pinot Noir rivaled some of my absolute favorites from the area, and the Syrah was complex with a blend of dark berries and spice.

Chelsea guiding tasters through the Zotovich Cellars portfolio

Chelsea guiding tasters through the Zotovich Cellars portfolio

If I didn’t already have several bottles of Pinot Noir in my collection, it would have been a no-brainer to take some home. Instead, I bought a few bottles of the 2012 Rosé of Pinot Noir ($22) which will be perfect for warm summer days.

Delicious Zotovich Cellars 2010 Estate Grown Pinot Noir

Delicious Zotovich Cellars 2010 Estate Grown Pinot Noir

Zotovich Cellars

Zotovich Cellars

If you’re looking to join a wine club, the club at Zotovich Cellars was one of the most flexible I’ve seen with the option to do a yearly shipment of 3, 6, or 12 bottles AND the ability to choose your wines. I’m sure I’ll end up a member sooner than later.

Overall, my first visit to the Lompoc Wine Ghetto was such a great experience that far surpassed my expectations. If the rest of the wineries in the Ghetto are anything like Jalama Wines and Zotovich Cellars, I’m in for a serious treat…

Click here to visit the Jalama Wines website.
Click here to visit the Zotovich Cellars website.
Click here to visit the Lompoc Wine Ghetto website.

JALAMA WINES
308 N. 9th Street, Unit C
Lompoc, CA 93436
Phone: (805) 735-8937
Tasting room hours: 12PM – 5PM Thursday through Sunday, or by appointment

ZOTOVICH CELLARS
1500 E. Chestnut Court, Suite D
Lompoc, CA 93436
Phone: (805) 736-1600
Email: chelsea@zotovichcellars.com
Tasting room hours: 10AM – 5PM Thursday through Sunday, or by appointment