Wine & Travel

Snooth User: dmcker

Best wineries and wines in the Santa Barbara area

Posted by dmcker, May 19, 2010.

I asked in another thread about recommendation for the Okanagan Valley area of British Columbia, but now I'm asking for up-to-date stories about an area closer to (my) home. I have a family gathering in The Ojai/Santa Barbara area next month, and was wondering who has recommendations about particularly good wines and winery visits in that area these days? Anywhere from Ojai up past Santa Maria towards SLO is fair game...

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Replies

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Reply by dynowine, May 19, 2010.

As a Rhone and Rhone blend fan I like

Tablas Creek, which is in west side Paso Robles very near Justin (also a bit famous), has superior stuff, but it is a bit far north. Has exceptional wines and gives a tour of their operations.  http://www.tablascreek.com/

In downtown Santa Barbara proper, Jaffurs, also a Rhone specialist (note limited open 4 days 11-5p) http://www.jaffurswine.com/

Beckman Vineyards (near or in Los Olivos, in the Santa Ynez Valley)  http://www.beckmenvineyards.com/index.php

 

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Reply by Flamefighter, May 20, 2010.

Wow, that is an open ended question.  There are so many I don't know where to begin, but here are just a few:

Santa Barabra:

Cambria - Rancho Sisquoc - Melville - Sanford - Koler - Firestone

Paso

Peachy Canyon - Rober Hall - Firestone - San Marcos Creek - EOS and J. Lohr

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Reply by Styxdvr, May 20, 2010.

The best I tasted at the Santa Barbara County 2009 Vintners' Festival include: 

  • Au Bon Climat
  • Babcock Vineyards
  • Foxen Vineyard
  • Hitching Post
  • Qupe
  • Tantara

I also agree with Flamefighter that Cambria is very good. Have fun!

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Reply by dmcker, May 20, 2010.

Paso Robles will be too far north for the purposes of this discussion, I think (though a visit to a steakhouse in Nipomo is likely to occur). Definitely already know that I like Au Bon Climat and Ojai Vineyard and Jonata and Qupe, off the top of my head. As of last tasting, Firestone won't make the cut.

To my knowledge Au Bon Climat doesn't do onsite tastings, unless things have changed recently. I think Ojai Vineyard is opening a tasting room from June 1 in the old firehouse in downtown Ojai. Qupe already has one in Los Olivos, I believe.

Anybody know about a way into Jonata? Then there's always Sea Smoke, too. Anybody have any specific experience they can share with Melville, Eno, Miner and Tantara? I haven't had any of their wines yet. Haven't had any Sanford for more than a decade. Are they better these days?

In general, am definitely interested in Rhone blends, in pinot noir, in whites, and anything else particularly noteworthy.

Thanks for the suggestions so far, but would love to hear more suggestions, and any specific experiences with the wines and wineries.

 

Cheers

 

 

 

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Reply by Flamefighter, May 20, 2010.

I would add, if time is an issue or if you don't want to drive and taste than try Los Olivos.  It is a small town with a number of fun and very good tasting rooms and is a great place to eat lunch and taste some wine.

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Reply by napagirl68, May 21, 2010.

Lucas and Llewellyn

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Reply by chadrich, May 21, 2010.

The higher-end single vineyard bottlings at Summerland aren't half bad, and fit your Rhone (syrah, grenache, maybe mouved) and pinot quest.  And their tasting room is fairly quaint, on a little stretch of walkable village in Summerland, just a skip south of Santa Barbara.

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Reply by dmcker, May 21, 2010.
Edited Mar 30, 2011

Know Summerland (the place) well. Spent several summers there, and in Carpinteria (to the south of Santa Barbara, north of Ventura) as a child. It and Carpinteria  used to be cheaper summer destinations (SB was always pricey). Now, of course, residential sprawl means that both Summerland and Carpinteria have many, many multi-milliondollar houses in the center or estates on the fringe....

Haven't had Summerland wines. Can you provide any detail about them?

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Reply by MarkAse, May 21, 2010.

Personal preference in the SB area is Los Olivos which is just north of good old Isla Vista, if slightly inland.  It's an added bonus that the tasting rooms are close to each other, either in downtown Los Olivos, or really close.

Stolpman-for Syrah and their La Coppa Blanc.  Some great scores from their new vintage which I haven't had the opportunity to try.  Say hello to Pete for me if you go.

Tensley: Literally across the street from Stolpman.  Not sure what they're pouring as they had a huge run on inventory after the WS article on Joey a couple of months back.  Maybe the best value/quality in all of California for their 07's.

Beckman: Ok, so I'm only luke warm on the winery itself, but I really, really like winemaker Mikael Sigourin's personal label Kaena.  You see his Hawaiian influence big time.  His Hale (House in Hawaiian) is consistently raved about whenever we open it for anyone.  At only 120 cases, it's a pretty fun find as well.

Lastly I believe the Blair Fox tasting room is open.  Small lots across the board when combined with 90+ pt scores and a very likeable and talkative winemaker makes for a nice trip.  Check out the wine that Sigourin, Fox and 2 other winemakers come together to make called Thread for something slightly different and special.

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Reply by dmcker, May 21, 2010.

Thanks, Mark, for the recommendations. Know Los Olivos well, though mostly from a different era. We use to drag race those winding curves up San Marcos Pass all the time. Foolish kids, of course, but plenty of adrenalin, that's for sure....

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Reply by dmcker, May 24, 2010.

Then there's always Sine Qua Non on Ventura Ave. Anybody know how to get an invite there?

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Reply by MarkAse, May 24, 2010.

Are you making a trip to Barrel 27?  Their tasting room manager Nicole got us in with Anthony Yount the new winemaker at Denner...she seems to know absolutely everyone in Paso.  I can send you her email if you want, she'd probably be able to point you in the right direction at least.

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Reply by MarkAse, May 24, 2010.

Just noticed Paso might be a touch far, sorry for confusion on that point.  Will ask around

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Reply by dmcker, Jun 30, 2010.

The get-together is coming up soon, and I was wondering if anyone had any more recommendations....

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Reply by StevenBabb, Jun 30, 2010.

i tasted some wine from Alta Colina, from Paso... this is their first vinatge, but i think that they are going to do well... i loved their "12 o'clock high"... a white rhone blend that was perfect fot the hot summer day....

i always think it's nice to taste a winery in the beginning and then lossley fallow them through their maturity and see how they evolve over the years...

CHEERS!

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Reply by MarkAse, Jul 5, 2010.

Out of curiosity does Alta Colina have any of their 0900 Syrah left?  Parker loves the place and I think Maggie is about as nice as they get in regards to owners families, so it's nice to see them doing well.

If you ask nicely, you can usually get up to their vineyard for a quick tour as well.

Really like the place, their GSM blend has really improved in the 9 months since it was bottled as well which is a very good sign.

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Reply by JonDerry, Mar 30, 2011.

Fun retrospective, I don't think I was around last summer.  When we first started dating,my wife and I drove up the coast for valentine's day and stopped in summerland on our way up and found the summerland tasting room by accident.  None of the wines stood out to me at all though, and since i've seen them at various restaurants all around So. Cal.  Might have to try them again as it's been a few years. 

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Reply by DawgByte, Mar 30, 2011.

Off the top of my head, this would be my list:

  • Au Bon Climat
  • Babcock Vineyards
  • Foxen Vineyard - nice Chenin Blanc
  • Qupe
  • Tantara
  • Sanford



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Reply by MBlack69, Mar 30, 2011.

I am a little late to the party, but have been tasting in this area a couple of times recently and have some recommendations.

Fess Parker and Curtis are both fantastic and their staff is very friendly, knowledgable and generous!  Zaca Mesa and Firestone are also nice but I was very disappointed with Tres Hermanas both in the quality of their wine and in the service - and I had read up on the winery and I really wanted to like the place!

I have found the following links to be very helpful.  If you enjoyed the movie Sideways, which was filmed in the area, the following map will show you all the places featured in the movie:

http://www.santabarbaraca.com/includes/media/docs/Sideways-Map.pdf

This map is also quite good:

http://www.sbcountywines.com/visit/map.html

 

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Reply by napagirl68, Mar 31, 2011.

I have another, recent, thread on this subject since I am going in a few weeks.

Just wanted to mention that I tasted Qupe at Rhone Rangers san fran, and they are solid.  Still in process of crafting my review of the wines at show... busy, busy week.

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