Fast forward 10 years. Santa Barbara County is now on its third wave, and what a wave it is. The Sideways hangover seems to have passed and the current generation is focused and fresh. Timing couldn’t be more opportune. Unlike the growing regions that have had to pivot to maintain or regain relevance, the majority of the central coast has been working towards this moment since inception. This frosty Winkler I region, with its transverse mountain range and remarkably long growing season is ideally suited to yield perfectly ripened grapes with vibrant acidity. Not without its challenges, this geographic oddity is now also equipped with a band of highly talented and trained technicians, seasoned with the knowledge and experience of their mentors, to combat the difficulties and guide its terroir into the future. This is one of, if not the most exciting growing regions in our world today.
Quietly, Advintage has been growing its ensemble of brilliant producers from Santa Barbara County. From the pioneering Bien Nacido Vineyards to the new school leaders A Tribute to Grace, Habit, Lo-Fi, Chanin and Lutum, the wines demand attention and a place at every table.
Here is a selection of a few of our favorite wines we represent from our Santa Barbara County producers:
A TRIBUTE TO GRACE GRENACHE | Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard 2015
The Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard is situated 33 miles east of Santa Barbara, in the Sierra Madre Mountains. Sitting at 3200 feet elevation, the setting is home to sand, brush, exposed rock, and the odd dingo-type wild dog. And grapes. On my first visit to the vineyard (as pictured in this photo), my mother and I were driving the 33-highway route north from Ojai and were beginning to wonder if we had indeed entered the famed Ojai vortex, so foreign was the setting. We hadn’t seen a single soul in over an hour – in fact nothing living save the odd Matilija mountain Poppy. Upwards we continued to climb, until finally we rounded yet another hairpin-bend and both gasped. Nestled below, amidst a vast sea of sand, were row upon row of vibrant vines.
And so is the setting for this incredible vineyard. Arid and blazing hot in the summertime, snow-laden and sleepy in the wintertime. Not that the summer months see an influx of people, I believe the permanent population of Ventucopa is 59…
I have an ongoing lease of three rows in this remarkable vineyard. The entire vineyard is managed sustainably, and planted according to particular site-specificity. Although there are a total of 12 varieties planted, the Grenache plantings represent only 4% of the total vineyard – with five different Grenache clones planted. I am one of five winemakers currently producing wine from this block, and the difference in the wines we each produce speaks volumes as to the part man plays in winemaking. ~Angela Osborne
CHANIN CHARDONNAY | Bien Nacido Vineyard 2015
This wine is pale straw in color with aromas of toasted hazelnuts, meyer lemon, and sea breeze. On the palate, there’s a striking acidity and crispness, laced with textural richness and a power that leads to a juicy finish.
The grapes were harvested on two separate days to achieve ideal ripeness—August 21, September 8th. Each lot was pressed and directly put into French oak barrels (10% new) to ferment. The wine stayed there for 15 months on its lees and was then racked and lightly fined before being bottled unfiltered in March 2017. 642 cases produced. 12.5% abv
[Adapted from WSJ]
HABIT CABERNET FRANC | Coquelicot Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley 2015
Certified CCOF Organic. 80% whole cluster fermentation with 20% crush, fermented in a tall steel open top fermenter,foot stomped, free run gravity fed daily, then gravity fed back over the top for a very long slow fermentation over three weeks. Aged in a large Puncheon on the lees until bottling. This wine is a stunner! Bright fruit, earth and spice. 250 cases produced 12.5% abv