Santa Barbara County Wine: The State of the Grape 2008

In about 1820, a San Antonio winery was built in what is now Goleta, just north of the City of Santa Barbara. The wine was made predominately for the missions as sacramental wine, but the padres undoubtedly made a little extra on the side. The lonely adobe winery is still standing and nearly 200 years later, the wine industry in Santa Barbara County is thriving, in spite of the fluctuations of the economy, transitional markets, fickle consumers and inconsistent harvests.

America’s Best Rhone Style Red Wines: 11th Annual Rhone Rangers Tasting Reviewed

The Rhone Report: About Rhone and Rhone-Style Wines and Winemakers is part of an ongoing series. Last month we discussed the white Rhone style wines offered at the 2008 Rhone Rangers tasting event at Fort Mason in San Francisco on March 18. This month we turn to the reds, of which we tasted 50. Among those we tasted were some old favorites and some wineries or bottlings with which we were not yet familiar. We don’t pretend that we tasted a representative group of wines, because our sample was skewed to wines we have loved in the past and others about which we have heard positive comments.

Of Purpose, Pigmy Goats and Pinot Noir: Flying Goat Cellars

Norm Yost started his career into the world of wine as a beer drinking football player, specifically offensive guard and tackle. Sure, he was at UC Davis, but he had been recruited right out of high school to play football, Division 2, not to do any mamby-pamby wine related stuff. His roommate in college was studying fermentation science and enology and would conduct wine tastings, which got Norm's attention. “I was really intrigued by it,” he recalled.

Sierra Foothills Twist: Spanish Varieties Shake Things Up

There's a California Blue Oak tree atop the property at Twisted Oak Winery in Murphys, California. It’s not exactly twisted, beaten ruthlessly by winds or somehow malformed from earthquakes or lightening strikes, but it’s beautiful nonetheless. The name of the winery however, is more fitting for owners Jeff and Mary Stai (pronounced “stye”) and their renegade and irreverent brand of wines, than for a tree. Launched in 2003, Twisted Oak Winery takes its philosophical cues more from Monty Python than UC Davis.

The Wines of Malibu. Yes, Malibu.

It’s easy to think of Malibu as nothing but beaches, bikinis and endless summers while celebrities stroll oceanfront properties, dodging the paparazzi and living the good life. And whereas that’s partly true, Malibu is also embracing its agricultural roots. Long before Westerners came to Malibu sporting convertibles and Speedos, the Chumash Indians lived peaceably along the coast and throughout the stunningly beautiful mountains that make up the Santa Monica Mountain range.

Wild Horse Winery: The Central Coasts Best Fruit

Wild Horse seems a fitting name for a winery located near Paso Robles, and one who, for 25 years has sought to create unique and compelling wines from the Central Coast. One of the things that makes Wild Horse Winery different, located just south of Paso Robles, in Templeton, is that they source fruit from 16 diverse AVA’s in California, including some of the smallest and largest appellations in the state.

Central Coast Wineries and their Unusual Names

In Shakespeare's classic "Romeo and Juliet," the heroine pointedly asked, "What's in a name?" There is a universal truth to our moniker, they are our identity, our essence. A quick glance at the wine industry reveals that the majority of wineries are named after their owners. However, amid all those surnames are a few winery names that beg explaination.

Pietra Santa Winery: Where Italy and California Meet

Few wineries in California grow Zinfandel and Merlot, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio at the same location, and do it well. Fewer still have five acres of imported Italian olive trees that they harvest to produce olive oil. And only one has California's famed San Andres Fault running through the property. But Pietra Santa Winery in Hollister, California, a mere 25 miles inland from Monterey, is a unique and unusual location.

Blending Pinot Noir on the Central Coast: Scents and Sensibilities

As with most things in life, collaboration is the key to success. In the world of wine, collaboration is evident between winemakers and growers, winemakers and coopers and so forth. Yet when the critical stage of blending a wine happens, many winemakers go it alone. Blending various wines means that different clones, different toast levels of barrels, and grapes from different vineyards, must be taken into account in order to produce a stand-out wine.