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Kunin Wines Santa Barbara County

Well-priced Syrah, Viognier and red and white blends are all made at this small Santa Maria winery as well as Sauvignon Blanc from the Happy Canyon area. The regular Santa Barbara Syrah accounts for just over 1,000 cases a year and is marked by its rich, fleshy, forward fruit. Aged in a mix of French […]

Jaffurs Wine Cellars Santa Barbara County

An impressive small range of Rhône styles is made at Craig Jaffurs climate-controlled winery in Santa Barbara. The first vintage here was 1994 and production is still small and quality high. Syrah is the main focus and is sourced from the Ampelos, Thompson, Larner, Kimsey, Verna’s and Bien Nacido vineyards. Roussanne comes from the Stolpman […]

Jada Vineyard Paso Robles

Jack Massina, a New York heart surgeon, purchased the land in 1998 and in the following year 68 (27.5 ha) of the 100 acres (40.5 ha) purchased were planted to Syrah and a mix of Bordeaux varietals by John Crossland, the vineyard manager of the Beckstoffer Vineyard in the Napa Valley. Until 2005, grapes were […]

Hitching Post Wines Santa Barbara County

Restaurateur Frank Ostini’s Hitching Post II in Buellton was featured in the film Sideways. He and friend Gray Hartley also produce a number of fine small-lot reds from Pinot Noir, Syrah and the red Bordeaux varieties, drawing on a range of Santa Barbara County vineyard sources. The wines were originally vinified at the AU BON […]

Herman Story Wines Santa Maria Valley

A small range of explosively rich reds have been produced by Russell From since 2001 at his small Santa Maria winery which he now shares with MCPRICE MYERS. An extensive range of vineyards and regions now form the core of his fruit sources. As well as the reds he also makes a little Santa Barbara […]

Harrison Clarke Wine Santa Ynez Valley

Harrison Clarke are based in the picturesque Santa Ynez Valley region of Santa Barbara County in the Purisima Hills. The soils of the vineyards which combine clay, clay-loam and limestone provide excellent conditions for the production of rich, ripe black-fruited Grenache and Syrah. Both wines should be considered if you can get hold of them, […]

Gainey Vineyards Santa Ynez Valley

Small to medium-sized and long established operation. The Gainey Home Ranch of some 36 ha (91 acres) is planted to the red Bordeaux varieties in addition to Sauvignon Blanc. The property itself is much larger at 730 ha (1,800 acres) and the family also farm cattle. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah have been planted across […]

Foxen Vineyards Santa Maria Valley

While there have been a plethora of new names emerging in these increasingly fashionable small wine regions, the Foxen boys, as they are affectionately known, have been around it seems for an eternity. They have consistently and continue to produce some of the best and most characterful wines from the area. Fruit comes from a […]

Flying Goat Cellars Santa Ynez Valley

Small operation specialising in Pinot Noir but lately making a little Pinot Gris too as well as sparkling white, red and rosé. The wines now come from a range of selected vineyards. Owner and winemaker Norman Yost has over 25 years winemaking experience in both the Russian River Valley and Oregon, ideal qualifications for making […]

Edna Valley Vineyard Edna Valley

The Niven Family who own the Paragon Vineyard established this partnership with the CHALONE Wine Group in 1980 to produce a range of well-priced varietal wines that emphasise the cool-climate characteristics of the Edna Valley. Key here are the coastal fogs which drift inland to cool the vineyards at night during the summer growing season […]

Dover Canyon Winery Paso Robles

This small artisan winery was established in 1994 while Dan Panico was still the winemaker at EBERLE. The main emphasis is on bespoke small lot Zinfandel and Syrah from Paso Robles Westside fruit. Small volumes of Rhône whites as well as red blends and some Bordeaux style reds are also produced. Zinfandel comes from a […]

Denner Vineyards Paso Robles

The Denners established their vineyard here in 1999. Farmed entirely by sustainable practices the calcareous soils are also a source of top quality fruit for other producers including Justin Smith at SAXUM. The Viognier is a rich, full style with unctuous fruit and should be enjoyed young. The Syrah is ripe, full and marked by […]

Core Family Winery Santa Barbara County

Small, recently established Rhône-style specialist based in Santa Maria but sourcing fruit under a long term leasing arrangement from the high altitude Alta Mesa vineyard in Santa Barbara County. Planted at an altitude of 3,200 feet (just under 1,000 metres) to Mourvèdre and Grenache the site provides fruit for wines that have both of impressive […]

Cold Heaven Cellars Santa Maria Valley

Morgan Clendenen’s objective with her wines is to find the best possible cool-grown Viognier, believing that the best examples with the finest structure from Condrieu emerge from those producers who harvest with plenty of acidity. Excessive alcohol is avoided and the wines are fermented in used oak and aged until malolactic has been completed. They […]

Chateau Margene Paso Robles

This small winery was established in 1998 and focuses on reds from the Bordeaux varieties. They draw on not only their own 2.5 ha (6 acre) estate vineyard but also from other sites as well, both Westside and Eastside. Yields are kept low, around 2 tons to the acre and the estate property is run […]

Clos LaChance Winery Santa Cruz Mountains

This operation founded in 1987 is producing an ever increasing number of wines. Most expensive are the Designate Series, details of which can be found on the winery website. Among the Reserve and Estate Series wines, Pinot Noir comes from the Santa Cruz Mountains, the estate Cabernet and Merlot are both good and well-priced. Recent […]

Castoro Cellars Paso Robles

Niels Udsen has a sizeable custom crush business in the eastern stretches of Paso Robles as well as making a small range of well-priced, mainly Paso Robles sourced reds and whites. The Udsens are also adding their own vineyards, three of which are now run organically. Cool, tank-fermented Fumé Blanc is full of clean, fresh, […]

Carina Cellars Paso Robles

David Hardee works with winemaker Joey TENSLEY making a small and impressive range of Rhône style reds and whites. After the purchase in 2006, of a ranch, on the Westside of Paso Robles, all wines made since 2009 come from estate grapes, grown on steep vineyard sites. The Iconoclast, originally a Napa Valley-sourced red, is […]

Cambria Winery Santa Maria Valley

Part of the giant KENDALL JACKSON Group, Cambria is its Central Coast flagship. It is by no means small with the total area under vine now some 565 ha (1,400 acres). Top-flight Pinot Noir is ripe and full of red-berry fruit, and particular noteworthy are a number of Pinot Clone listed bottlings as well as […]

Calcareous Vineyard Paso Robles

Another recently created boutique Paso Robles operation producing low volume wines. Sisters Dana Brown and Erika Messer established Calcareous in 2000 with their father Lloyd Messer. Sourcing fruit from a range of sites but focusing on mainly their own classic limestone planted Westside vineyards, they produce Rhône, Bordeaux and Burgundian wine styles and their property […]

Brander Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley

Bordeaux varieties, both red and white, are the focal point at this property. Decent reds are made in a markedly structured style but the Sauvignon Blancs are perhaps the most striking wines. Like the reds they are more Bordeaux-like than many other New World examples. The Santa Ynez bottling is softly structured with a hint […]

Bonny Doon Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains

Randall Grahm’s Bonny Doon operation may have an eccentric and off-the-wall approach to marketing and labelling but the wines are impressive and generally very fairly priced. Grahm has sold his interest in the Big House labels and his output is much closer to his original boutique size of operation. The Rhône varieties are the backbone […]

Bonaccorsi Wine Santa Barbara County

The late Michael Bonaccorsi was of one of America’s top sommeliers. With his wife Jenne Lee he founded Bonaccorsi to produce top-quality wines from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and the Rhône varieties. She continues their work. Grapes are sourced from some of the cooler sites in the Santa Maria Valley and Sta. Rita Hills. The Pinot […]

Black Sheep Finds Winery Santa Barbara County

Peter Hunken was originally part of the Holus Bolus partnership with Sashi Moorman of PIEDRASASSI. A range of wines is now made under the Black Sheep Finds banner and they are very fairly priced. As well as the Holus Bolus Syrah, there are three single vineyard examples from the Watch Hill Vineyard in Santa Ynez, […]

Big Basin Vineyards Santa Cruz Mountains

A new name in the Santa Cruz Mountains, established in 1998, producing rich, characterful chocolatey Syrah from high altitude mainly estate-owned vineyards. These were originally planted nearly 100 years ago by French immigrants but the site had fallen into serious decay by the 1960s. Bradley Brown undertook a major project in restoring the site. The […]

Bernardus Winery Carmel Valley

The 20 ha (50 acres) of estate vineyards here are all planted to the Bordeaux varieties. Winemaker Mark Chesebro is committed to making traditional ageworthy reds. The Marinus, crafted from highdensity plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, is traditionally vinified with regular pumpovers for extraction. It spends 12 months in new […]

Beckmen Vineyards Santa Ynez Valley

Tom Beckmen established this operation in 1994 when he bought a Santa Barbara ranch which he replanted with different rootstocks. In 1996 he added the Purisma Mountain Vineyard property which is planted at altitude and unusually on limestone-based soils. Warm summer days are complemented by cool nights which provide additional structure in the wines. Tom […]

Babcock Vineyards Sta. Rita Hills

Small to medium-sized operation producing an extensive range. Located in the centre of the newly established Sta. Rita Hills AVA, the 32 ha (80 acres) of vineyards close to the ocean are cooled by regular morning mists and afternoon sea breezes. The results are generally impressive, particularly with Pinot Noir; with very exciting limited bottlings […]

Anglim Winery Paso Robles

The Anglim’s small range of wines is mainly focussed on Rhône styles with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Zinfandel as well as Pinot Noir from the Fiddlestix Vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills (see FIDDLEHEAD CELLARS). Output remains strictly boutique at around 3,000 to 4,000 cases per year with all the wines produced in pretty […]

Alma Rosa Winery Sta. Rita Hills

Richard Sanford is one of the most famous names of not only the Sta. Rita Hills but of Santa Barbara County. He was one of the founders of the great Sanford and Benedict Vineyard, a source of some legendary Pinot Noir and he also established the SANFORD Winery. He and his wife Thekla have now […]

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