Tag Archives: Pinot Noir

Highlights from the Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure | The Wiltern – Los Angeles, CA

Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure at The Wiltern

Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure at The Wiltern

Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure

Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure at The Wiltern

One of my absolute favorite things about the Garagiste Festivals is the opportunity to discover new wines and meet the incredibly gifted people who make them.

Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure at The Wiltern

Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure at The Wiltern

Even with a few Garagiste Festivals under my belt, I’m always amazed by how much new, little-known wine talent shows up at each event to share the fruits of their labor – some of whom are pouring their very first vintage.  I’ve discovered many of my favorite wines at past Garagiste Festivals, but I also love exploring some new ones.

Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure at The Wiltern

Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure at The Wiltern

Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure at The Wiltern

Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure at The Wiltern

That being said, here are a few of my new favorites from the recent Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure at the iconic Wiltern theater…

Frequency Wines

Almond Wasserman of Frequency Wines

Almond Wasserman of Frequency Wines

Frequency Wines

Frequency Wines

Frequency Wines is a label started by brother-sister duo Almond & Zac Wasserman.  Since their first vintage in 2010, Frequency has received rave reviews from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate for their beautifully crafted Rhone varietals, and last year they opened their own tasting room in the hip little town of Los Alamos, CA.  I absolutely loved their 2014 GSM & 2014 Zotovich Syrah.

Artisan Uprising

Artisan Uprising

Artisan Uprising

Artisan Uprising's beautiful hand-drawn label

Artisan Uprising’s beautiful hand-drawn label

Artisan Uprising’s David & William Vondrasek are true Garagistes.  Before releasing their first commercial vintage in 2012, the brothers had already spent years learning from their grandfather who made wine in his basement, and crafting wines for the family to enjoy.  After winning a few competitions, developing their own style, and stockpiling more wine than the family could consume, Artisan Uprising was born.  Now the brothers meticulously hand craft their wines using grapes from some of the best vineyards in Paso Robles and adorn each bottle with a beautiful label drawn by their sister.

Coda Wines

CODA Wines

Spencer Daly of Coda Wines

Spencer Daly of Coda Wines is one of the coolest winemakers I’ve met.  The 25-year-old just released his first vintage as an homage to the two things he loves most – music and wine.  A coda in the musical sense typically designates a movement or structure in a piece of music.  Spencer has named each wine under the Coda label with a musical term, harmoniously blending his two passions.

Spencer believes both music and wine are a reflection of the artist who created them, and both evoke certain moods and experiences.  I couldn’t agree more.  I thought his 2014 Sauvignon Blanc and 2013 Syrah were particularly delicious and can’t wait to see what the future holds for Coda.

PHOTO:  Spencer Daly of Coda Wines.  Courtesy of the Coda Wines Facebook page.

Weatherborne Wine Corp.

Cris Carter of Weatherborne Wine Corp.

Cris Carter of Weatherborne Wine Corp.

To me, there’s nothing like an exceptional Pinot Noir and Cris Carter of Weatherborne Wine Corp is making just that.  I’ve been raving about Weatherborne since Cris released his first vintage last year – a 2012 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir crafted using grapes from the John Sebastiano and Melville Vineyards.

This year, he released his 2013 vintage, which is 100% John Sebastiano fruit.      While the 2012 is a bit tart and juicy with a bright acidity, the 2013 is darker, spicier, and multi-layered.  Weatherborne has definitely proven that the same grape – Pinot Noir – can produce two incredible wines with distinctly different flavor profiles.

Other Garagiste wines I highly recommend include:
Alta Colina
Archium Cellars
Casa Dumetz
Cholame Vineyard
Cloak & Dagger Wines
Dilecta Wines
Larner Wine
C. Nagy Wines
Tercero Wines

I hope to see everyone at the next Garagiste Festival in Paso Robles in November… Cheers!

 

5 Must-Try Rosé Wines For Summertime

With longer, warmer days upon us, it seems like Rosé season has finally arrived.  Grab a chair in the sun and enjoy one of these bottles on a lazy Summer afternoon.

L-R: Arnot-Roberts, Copain, ONX, Cholame, Conte Di Gropello

L-R: Arnot-Roberts, Copain, ONX, Cholame, Conte Di Gropello

 

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé
The Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé is made from Touriga Nacional, which is one of Portugal’s finest varietals and is typically used to make Port.  Arnot-Roberts  uses grapes grown in volcanic/river rock soils of the Luchsinger Vineyard in Lake County to make their Rosé.  It’s a very dry wine with a nice, crisp acidity.  Not a Rosé for everyone, but I thought it was quite good.

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé

 

Copain 2014 “Tous Ensemble” Rosé
Copain’s 2014 “Tous Ensemble” Rosé is made from Pinot Noir from the North Coast AVA and is full of juicy red fruit and a bright acidity.  This wine is beautifully balanced and ideal to pair with food.

2014 Copain "Tous Ensemble" Rosé

2014 Copain “Tous Ensemble” Rosé

2014 Copain "Tous Ensemble" Rosé

2014 Copain “Tous Ensemble” Rosé

2014 Copain "Tous Ensemble" Rosé

2014 Copain “Tous Ensemble” Rosé

 

ONX “Indie” 2014 Rosé
ONX has been putting out some outstanding wines and the “Indie” Rosé is no exception.  Made from Tempranillo, Indie achieves an effortless harmony between slightly sweet red berry and watermelon notes, and refreshing acidity.  This wine is very easy to drink.  I recommend having several bottles of Indie chilled and ready to go for those warm Summer days.

2014 ONX "Indie" Rosé

2014 ONX “Indie” Rosé

2014 ONX "Indie" Rosé

2014 ONX “Indie” Rosé

2014 ONX "Indie" Rosé

2014 ONX “Indie” Rosé

2014 ONX "Indie" Rosé

2014 ONX “Indie” Rosé

 

Cholame Vineyard 2014 Rosé
I just recently discovered the wines of Cholame Vineyard and am so happy I did.  Their newly-released 2014 Rosé is full of fresh strawberry with a beautiful finish that will appeal to a wide variety of palates.  Cholame is a Native American word meaning “The Beautiful One” which describes this wine perfectly.

2014 Cholame Vineyard Rosé - Central Coast

2014 Cholame Vineyard Rosé – Central Coast

2014 Cholame Vineyard Rosé - Central Coast

2014 Cholame Vineyard Rosé – Central Coast

2014 Cholame Vineyard Rosé - Central Coast

2014 Cholame Vineyard Rosé – Central Coast

2014 Cholame Vineyard Rosé - Central Coast

2014 Cholame Vineyard Rosé – Central Coast

 

Brachetto d’ Acqui DOCG “Conti di Gropello”
I’m typically not a fan of sweet wines and was hesitant to include a sparkling wine on this list, however after tasting the Conte di Gropello Brachetto d’ Acqui, I couldn’t resist.  This deep pink, low alcohol (6.5%) sparkling wine is like summertime in a glass.  It tastes like sugar-dusted wild strawberries with a pleasantly balanced finish and a frothy effervescence…almost like an adult version of strawberry soda.  It’s guaranteed to make those who lean towards sweeter wines (Moscato, etc.) very happy.

Conte Di Gropello Brachetto D'Acqui

Conte Di Gropello Brachetto D’Acqui

Conte Di Gropello Brachetto D'Acqui

Conte Di Gropello Brachetto D’Acqui

Conte Di Gropello Brachetto D'Acqui

Conte Di Gropello Brachetto D’Acqui

Conte Di Gropello Brachetto D'Acqui

Conte Di Gropello Brachetto D’Acqui

Here are a few more exceptional 2014 Rosé wines to try:
L’Aventure 2014 Estate Rosé (Paso Robles)
LIOCO 2014 “Indica” Rosé (Mendocino County)
Villa Creek 2014 “Pink” Rosé (Paso Robles)
Law Estate Wines 2014 Rosé (Paso Robles)

L-R: Arnot-Roberts, Copain, ONX, Cholame, Conte Di Gropello

L-R: Arnot-Roberts, Copain, ONX, Cholame, Conte Di Gropello

 

Iron Horse Vineyards | Sebastopol, CA

Iron Horse Vineyards in Sebastopol, CA was by far my biggest wine related surprise of the year.  I mean this in the best possible way for a couple different reasons.

Iron Horse Ranch & Vineyards

Iron Horse Ranch & Vineyards

I love Champagne, but I tend to stay away from California Sparkling Wines.  While there are some standouts, I find many of them too sweet and lacking the tiny, delicate Methode Champenoise bubbles found in many of the best Champagnes.

Iron Horse Vineyards

Iron Horse Vineyards

That being said, I received my December issue of Wine Enthusiast which featured their top 100 wine picks of 2014 – The Enthusiast 100 – and noticed a bottle of 2010 Iron Horse Wedding Cuvee on the cover.  The Wedding Cuvee was the number ten wine of the year and received a score of 95.  I knew I’d be spending New Year’s in the Russian River area and when I realized Iron Horse was a quick drive from where I was staying, I had to check them out.

Wine Enthusiast Magazine - The Enthusiast 100 of 2014

Wine Enthusiast Magazine – The Enthusiast 100 of 2014 with Iron Horse Wedding Cuvee on the cover

I visited Iron Horse Vineyards without doing any prior research, so based solely on their prestigious reputation and rave reviews, I was expecting a large winery…something a bit fancy with perfectly manicured grounds and a corporate feel.  Their sparkling wines have been served at the White House for five consecutive Presidential Administrations starting with Reagan for crying out loud.

Instead what I discovered was the complete opposite and I absolutely loved it.

As you approach Iron Horse Vineyards, the paved narrow road you’ve been navigating suddenly becomes an even narrower gravel road.  The entry to the property is flanked by two weathered stone markers with the recognizable bucking Iron Horse logo on each.

Unpaved drive to Iron Horse Vineyards

Unpaved drive to Iron Horse Vineyards

Entry to Iron Horse Vineyards

Entry to Iron Horse Vineyards

We finally arrived at the winery parking lot to find a totally unassuming, rustic set of barn-style buildings perched on a gorgeous piece of land with million dollar views all around.

Looking out towards the parking lot at Iron Horse Vineyards

Looking out towards the parking lot at Iron Horse Vineyards

Iron Horse Vineyards

Iron Horse Vineyards

The gorgeous view from Iron Horse Vineyards

The gorgeous view from Iron Horse Vineyards

Views from Iron Horse Vineyards

Views of Napa in the distance from Iron Horse Vineyards

The tasting area at Iron Horse is essentially an outdoor bar crafted out of wood planks propped on wine barrels.  The entire vibe was casual and friendly without an ounce of pretension.  Just perfect.

Iron Horse Vineyards outdoor tasting bar

Iron Horse Vineyards outdoor tasting bar

Iron Horse Vineyards tasting bar

Iron Horse Vineyards tasting bar

Iron Horse Vineyards

Iron Horse Vineyards

We were greeted by Lisa who walked us through a tasting of five different Sparkling Wines, all of which were outstanding…beautifully balanced with superfine effervescence.  Those who don’t like bubbles have the option of a Chardonnay or Pinot Noir flight as well.

Iron Horse Vineyards

Iron Horse Vineyards tasting bar

Iron Horse Vineyards tasting flights

Iron Horse Vineyards tasting flights

Iron Horse Vineyards

Iron Horse Vineyards

Iron Horse Vineyards

Iron Horse Vineyards

Iron Horse Vineyards

Iron Horse Vineyards

Iron Horse Wedding Cuvee

An empty bottle of 2003 Iron Horse Wedding Cuvee

We visited Iron Horse on New Year’s Eve and got to watch all the cellar workers choose a bottle to take home to ring in 2015.  I got a real sense of family from everyone in the tasting room, which was such a breath of fresh air.  We managed to narrow our choices to three bottles (a crisp ’10 Oceans Reserve, a bottle of the now famous Wedding Cuvee, and an ’07 Brut Rose).

Cellar workers at Iron Horse Vineyards picking out a sparkling wine to ring in 2015

Cellar workers at Iron Horse Vineyards picking out a sparkling wine to ring in 2015

I’m so glad I had a chance to visit Iron Horse Vineyards.  My expectations were completely shattered in the best possible way.  Instead of finding another corporate winery, I discovered a laid-back, family owned winery that produces outstanding, estate bottled, world-class California Sparkling Wine. I can’t recommend Iron Horse enough and can’t wait to return…

IRON HORSE VINEYARDS
9786 Ross Station Road
Sebastopol, CA  95472
Phone:  (707) 887-1507
Email: info@ironhorsevineyards.com
Tasting room hours: 10AM – 4:30PM seven days a week

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

Wind Gap Wines | The Barlow – Sebastopol, CA

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

I’ve noticed a trend recently of winemakers using a very minimalist approach to their craft.  By selecting the best grapes from specific vineyard sites, using wild yeasts, and remaining as non-interventionist as possible, they’re allowing the fruit to express itself in an honest, unique way.

An excellent example of this sort of wine making is what Pax Mahle is doing at Wind Gap Wines.  I had a chance to visit his beautiful, newly opened tasting room at The Barlow in Sebastopol, CA last week and tasted through his current portfolio.

The Barlow - Sebastopol, CA

The Barlow – Sebastopol, CA

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

The grapes used to make Wind Gap Wines are sourced from vineyards throughout California that are directly influenced by, or planted along, different “wind gaps”.  These are essentially valleys cut through the coastal hillsides where winds flow inland, impacting the wine growing regions along their path.

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

I was really impressed by the uniqueness of the wines in the Wind Gap portfolio.  As part of his minimalist wine making approach, Pax uses mostly neutral fermentation vessels (stainless steel, concrete & neutral oak), and keeps his alcohol levels moderate, which allows the fruit to truly shine.

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Tasters have the option of trying 4 wines for $12 or 6 wines for $24.  Wines are also sold “a la carte” by the glass and carafe to enjoy on site.  I opted to try 6, which included a slightly effervescent ’13 Arinto Pierce Ranch, a ’13 Trousseau Gris, a ’12 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir , a bright ’12 Grenache from the Sceales Vineyard (some of whose vines are 80 years old), and 2 very different yet equally delicious Syrahs.  I also got to sample the ’13 North Coast Rose.

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

I particularly liked the ’13 Arinto and the ’13 North Coast Rose – both of which are sold in $40 refillable growlers ($28 for the refill) and perfect for summertime.  I also loved the slightly spicy ’12 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and the ’08 Russian River Syrah.

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines – 2008 Russian River Valley Syrah

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Whether you stop by for an hour or to spend a relaxing afternoon, Wind Gap Wines is a “must try” for your next visit to Sebastopol…

WIND GAP WINES
@ The Barlow
6780 McKinley Street
Suite 170
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Phone:  (707) 331-1393
Email:  mail@windgapwines.com
Tasting room hours: 12PM – 6:30PM Thursday through Sunday

THE BARLOW
6770 McKinley Street
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Phone:  (707) 824-5600

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

Exploring Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone – Part 1

The Santa Barbara "Funk Zone"

The Santa Barbara “Funk Zone”

In what was once an old, rundown industrial area just west of Santa Barbara’s bustling shopping district, the Funk Zone has emerged as a hub of unique art, culture, food & artisan wine.  In my opinion, it’s one of the best things to happen to Santa Barbara in a long time.

The Santa Barbara "Funk Zone"

The Santa Barbara “Funk Zone”

With a number of shops, galleries, wine tasting rooms, and restaurants all within walking distance, it’s easy to spend a day roaming around and exploring.

Several of the tasting rooms that comprise Santa Barbara’s Urban Wine Trail are located right in the Funk Zone – some of which are open late.  Buellton’s Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company also opened a second location with a great outdoor patio for microbrew-lovers (or those just needing a break from wine).

My first stop at the Funk Zone was AVA Santa Barbara – a winery dedicated to making first class wines that highlight the very best of the five distinct AVAs (or American Viticultural Areas) of Santa Barbara.

AVA Santa Barbara

AVA Santa Barbara

The AVA Santa Barbara tasting room was truly one of the coolest I’ve seen.  With the use of soil samples, incredibly detailed wall murals, and an excellent portfolio of wines, visitors get a serious education on what makes each distinct Viticultural Area unique.

Inside the tasting room at AVA Santa Barbara

Inside the tasting room at AVA Santa Barbara

Incredible wall mural in AVA Santa Barbara by artist Elkpen

Incredible wall mural in AVA Santa Barbara by artist Elkpen

AVA Santa Barbara

AVA Santa Barbara

We tasted an incredible line up of wines from cool climate Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays to a Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec that thrive in the region’s warmer areas.  All the wines in this diverse portfolio were crafted from Santa Barbara grapes.

AVA Santa Barbara Wines

AVA Santa Barbara Wines

The AVA Santa Barbara tasting room is very dog friendly

The AVA Santa Barbara tasting room is very dog friendly

Outdoor patio at AVA Santa Barbara

Outdoor patio at AVA Santa Barbara

After AVA Santa Barbara, we walked up the street to check out Municipal Winemakers.

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

I absolutely loved the Municipal Winemakers tasting room.  It was creative and eclectic with just the right amount of industrial grit that makes the Funk Zone so special.

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Just like at AVA Santa Barbara, our dog Booker was invited to join us inside the tasting room while we tasted a delicious line up of wines.  My personal favorites were the mouth-watering Bright White dry Riesling and the juicy Grenache.

Booker relaxing on the cool floor at Municipal Winemakers

Booker relaxing on the cool floor at Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

I had such a fun day at the Funk Zone and can’t wait to head back.  Stay tuned for Part 2…

Click here to visit the Santa Barbara Funk Zone website.
Click here to visit the AVA Santa Barbara website.
Click here to visit the Municipal Winemakers website.

AVA SANTA BARBARA
116 East Yanonali Street
Santa Barbara, CA  93101
Phone:  (805) 453-6768
Email:  taste@avasantabarbara.com
Tasting room hours: 12PM – 7PM Daily

MUNICIPAL WINEMAKERS
22 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara, CA  93101
Phone:  (805) 931-6864
Email:  dave@municipalwinemakers.com
Tasting room hours:
11AM – 6PM Monday through Wednesday & Sunday
11AM – 11PM Thursday through Saturday