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Posts Tagged ‘Santa Barbara Wine Country’

Live Wine Blogging Reds

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#WBC14 Live Blogging for Red Wines


2011 Syrah Conscilience & Tre Anelli

Wine Bloggers Conference Buellton, CA

Wine Bloggers Conference 2014

They are located in Los Olivos.  They have two other brands that produce Italian and Spanish wines.  This style is peppery with strong tannins.  Aged in neutral French Oak  84%, American oak 13%, and the balance is Hungarian oak. Receive all fruit from Santa Ynez Valley growers but purchased their own vineyard and will have first vintage in 2015.  Just brought in investors to expand the brand and get wines into other states.

I like this wine.  I have a bottle at home that I picked up last year. It’s in my aging cellar because I think it needs a bit more time for the tannins to cool out.  Made 2700 cases.


2012 Pinot Noir Garnet Monterey County

They own all of the own vineyards, which allows them to have complete control over when to pick, how to handle canopy, etc.

Winemaker is Alision Crowe.  She grew up in Santa Barbara County; always had interest in vineyard.  Her parents were big wine fans so hey were her early influencers.  She became interested in food science, which led to her getting a degree from the acclaimed UC Davis.

I asked Alision what growing issues she encounters.  She replied, “Due to the sandy soil and the warm weather, she must pick at proper time.”

I really enjoyed this wine.


2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Vineyard 511 Diamond Mountain

I asked, “”What are you strengths growing vines in the Diamond Mountain AVA?”  The answer was they have only about 500 acres, located in a mountain terroir with volcanic ash. The vineyards are terraced at 700 ft, receiving west facing, afternoon sun.  The name “511” is the owners,  Edward and Irene Ojdana house address. The wine retails at a lofty $125.

However, the viticulture methods are a huge reason.  They have low-yielding harvest in order to produce concentrated flavors, requiring them to drop fruit, which is costly. This yield about  2-3 tons/acre.  Also, mountain fruit is smaller and the vines must reach a bit deeper into the soil.  Have their own well but are being caution with use due to our severe drought. It’s been aged 30 months French oak.


2011 Carmenere Reserva Rios de Chile

This is 100% Carmenere with 14% ABV.  Cachapoal Valley has old vines dating back to 1938.  Why does Carmenere do so well here?  The valley has very hot days, then cool nights, along with stony soils, and deposits from Andes Mountains.  This is a late ripening grape.  Pairs well with spicy foods.


2006 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley

Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

Jordan Cabernet SauvignonJordan

This is a Bordeaux blend with 2-years aging in bottle with French oak. Well drain soils with right calcuim magnesium with ratio so you can pick at 24-25 brix and end with 13.5% ABV.  They harvested from 60 vineyard blocks across 12 growers, then selected only the most primo grapes.  The 2010 retails for $53  while the 2006, which you can still purchase runs $59.


2010 Adelaida Cellars Tourriga Nacional  Paso Robles

Grown on 2 acres so availability is limited, which is too bad. I saved this pour to enjoy at the end of the tasting. It was that good. You can get it in the tasting room fro $28.  This wine is very unique. One it is a variety that isn’t grown much anywhere in California.  Second, coming in at only 12.9% ABV for wine grown in hot Paso, it is an eye opener.  As was pointed out during the presentation by a few vintners, 2010 was a cool year.

Stainless steel fermentation for 20 months in 50% French oak on skins for 2 weeks. The vines required a lot of canopy management, reaching heights of  6 feet.


2011 Danza del Sol Cabernet Franc Temecula Valley

Grown on 35 acres in Temecula, a lesser-known wine region located two hours east of Los Angeles.  Winemaker used 50/50  neutral American & Hungarian oak, transferred to 85% new oak.

It’s very elegance and given the valley easily reaches 110 degrees during the growing season, I see the winemaker had some restraint with an ABV of only 13,8%.  There is also the influence of the Rainbow Gap, whihc cools the valley come nightfall, trapping in the fog with help from the nearby mountains.

Danza produces more than 25 wines including dry and sweet wines. They have th bragging rights to having Sauvignon Blanc vines that are 42 yrs old.


2012 Siena Ferrari- Carano Sonoma County

Ferrari-Carano Red Wine

Ferrari-Carano Red Wine

This is a blend of Sangiovese, Malbec, Petite, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The estate-grown.grapes were picked early so as to preserve the rich fruit flavor profile and control alcohol levels. Even at an ABV of 14.5% there is no heat on the finish which was a nice surprise.


2111 Cabernet Franc Carr Winery Santa Ynez Valley

Located near downtown Santa Barbara in a WWII hut that looks like a military barracks, Carr produces around 4,500 cases of wine from grapes it buys from growers throughout Santa Barbara County.

This offering was aged for 12 months in French oak.  The winemaker Ryan Carr is finally able to pursue his dream of owning his own winery after several projects with other vintners.

He owns a second tasting room in the Old Town section Santa Ynez.


There are only nine tastings today.  The tenth representation did a demonstration of an app which I will review in another post.






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Wine Bloggers Conference 7-10-14

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Wine Bloggers Conference Santa Barbara

Wine Bloggers Conference Buellton, CA

Wine Bloggers Conference 2014

I’m attending my first Wine Bloggers Conference #WBC14 in Buellton, which is about a 40-minute drive north of Santa Barbara. This year’s event will host more than 300 bloggers and event attendees ranging from wineries to glassware manufacturers to wine gadget producers.

I took the Amtrak from San Diego and it was a great ride.  I purchased Business Class and loved it.  The seats are comfortable with a huge amount of space between the next row.  Nothing like the airplane.  In fact, dare I say there’s too much space because the tray table was too far away for me to comfortably use my laptop.

Ventura Coastline

Ventura Coastline

Once I reached Santa Barbara, I took a bus which was waiting directly behind the train station.  There was no running to a gate in a completely different terminal.  Awesome! The driver placed my luggage underneath the carriage and I took my carry on. Again, a comfortable ride and one where I got to enjoy the beautiful scenery along with way.  I love my state with its diverse landscape of beaches and mountains.

Santa Ynez Marriott, the conference’s home for the next three days, doesn’t have a shuttle service but they were happy to call a taxi for me for the four block ride.  Given I’m nursing a pinched nerve in my neck, I didn’t want to drag my luggage up the street for fear of further injuring myself so if you don’t have any physical limitations, you could easily walk from the bus stop.

Szige Gruner Veltline Brut

Szige Gruner Veltline Brut

After resting up, I headed downstairs for the Expo and Opening Wine Reception.  The highlight of the evening’s tasting for me was the Szige Grüner Veltliner Brut Sparkling Wine.  It a traditional method sparkling with wonderful acidity, soft, rounded citrus and a clean finish.

I also liked the 2013 Leyda Sauvignon Blanc from Chile and pear notes and a lemon zest finish.

I spend a lot of time at the Wines of Portugal table because the wines were qiute good. They are hosting a wine and food pairing lunch on Friday so I’ll have more details on their wines later.  But I did really enjoy Julia Kemper from Dão DOC.

The night concluded with another round of tasting at Standing Sun.They have a great patio and a huge indoor space for pouring and a barrel room.


Well, it’s off to Day 2.

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Foley Estates Winery

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2010 Foley Chardonnay Sta. Rita Hills

Santa Barbara Lighthouse

Santa Barbara Lighthouse

Foley Estates Vineyard & Winery ranks as one of my top 10 Santa Barbara County wineries.  Why?  Their wines are flat out delicious!  There are three primary reasons.

First, the cool-climate of the Sta. Rita Hills brings in early-morning and late-evening fog.  This occurs through the east-west running traverse, located between the low-lying mountain range.  The ocean air cools down the well-cared-for vines that spend the day soaking up the beautiful and warm California, summer sunshine.

Secondly, Bill Foley instilled a wine-making philosophy centered around Burgundian techniques that focused on the attributes of the individual vineyard.  The Foley team has sub-divided vineyards into 59 micro-blocks that are individually farmed, harvested and vinified.  Lastly, the Sta. Rita Hills AVA has an array of loamy soils derived from marine-based deposits, alluvium and sand.  These factors combine to create an ideal growing region for the Chardonnay grape to thrive.

Barrel Ageing

Barrel Aging

This wine spent 17 months in 40% New French Oak barrels; however it’s not overly oaked.  It also underwent malolactic fermentation, resulting in a Chardonnay that has a soft buttery flavor.  However, anyone can make a buttery, oaky Chardonnay.  What makes this Foley Chard so special is the winemaker’s ability to bring out some great fruit.  I tasted pear and peach, along with tropical grapefruit.

As you’d expect for a Santa Barbara County wine, the alcohol level is high at 14.3% but it is quite balanced. The texture and finish are creamy.  There’s a decent amount of acidity, making it a perfect dinner wine. It also tastes great alone, which for me is a sign of a well-made wine.  Before, during and after dinner, it just drinks well.  With summer produce so prevalent, the tropical fruit flavor and acidity also will pair nicely with vegetarian dishes, including asparagus.

Tropical-tasting Foley Chardonnay

Tropical-tasting Foley Chardonnay

Lorna Kreutz-Duggan took over the reigns as head winemaker this year, after three years as assistant winemaker. She is carrying on the Foley tradition of sustainable farming.

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Beckmen Vineyards

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2009 Beckmen Vineyards Cuvee Le Bec – Santa Ynez Valley

Tasting Room Beckman Vineyards

Beckman Vineyards Tasting Room

Two years ago on one of my annual wine pilgrimages to Santa Barbara Wine Country, we stopped at Beckman Vineyards.  Just because I’m a wine educator, I don’t always want to pick the wineries that my group visits.  So, my friend Beverly chose Beckman and I’ve been a fan ever since.

I purchased (too) many wines on this trip, which is fairly typical.   I’m still working my way through some of those bottles.  But that’s the best part about visiting a wine region.   Instead of simply buying bottles off of retail shelves, you really get to know the wine.  You get the opportunity to taste it before you buy it. You see where and how it’s grown; and meet the people who make it, including the winemaker, if you are lucky.

Beckmen Cuvee Le Bec

Beckmen Cuvee Le Bec

I opened my bottle of ’09 Cuvee Le Bec and enjoyed it with a take-out order of ribs from Phil’s BBQ in San Diego.   Like many wineries in this sub-appellation of Santa Barbara, the Rhone grape varieties are well represented.  This Cuvee Le Bec had 45% Grenache, 34% Syrah, 34% Mourvèdre and 7% Counoise.

If this wine was giving an acceptance speech at an award’s ceremony, it might thank Syrah for its deep-purple color, tannins and spice. And give a “Hats Off” to Grenache for the wonderful fruit.

I was a little worried when I saw I still had this bottle in my wine captain I use as my aging cellar.  But, it was not past its prime.  For that, Mourvèdre deserves the coo-does. Counoise is lesser known but a common grape used in the wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which blend up to 13 different varieties. It’s this Counoise that brings the necessary acidity to the blend.

As far as the taste, Loved It!  On the nose, it gives black pepper, raspberry and cherry.  These flavors were a magical pairing with the barbequed ribs and baked beans.  The dark cherry fruit wasn’t jammy, which I believe takes away from a wine’s complexity.

Grounds at Beckmen Vineyards

The Grounds at Beckmen Vineyards

The tasting room is small; and it can get crowded on weekends.  It’s become a lot more popular after word got out that President Obama served it at The White House for a function.  The grounds are lovely though.  My wife and I managed to grab two seats out by the pond.  It was a peaceful place to enjoy our tastings.




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