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Black Sheep Finds – By the Will of the People

Black Sheep Finds – By the Will of the People

It is human nature to respect great efforts of time. Be it a work of art, the sculpted beauty of a National Park, or a long overdue title win, we value more so what takes longer to achieve. For those wine enthusiasts with a larger vocabulary than “mmm grapes!” we too value and esteem great efforts of time. We respect the Grand Cru vineyards, the storied Chateau, and even the great vintages. We do so because we respect the time they represent and the effort, determination, and foresight behind them.

This respect of time is evident when considering wine regions and the importance we place upon them. France is the undisputed King of wine and for many it will always be so. It is more difficult and subjective to crown a Queen, but for now, France still has a powerful monarch named Wine and his influence is strong and his dominion wide. … Continue Reading

Tercero Wines – More Than Numbers

Tercero Wines – More Than Numbers

Robert Parker has it out for Larry Schaffer.

In the most recent issue of Parker’s highly influential publication The Wine Advocate, Larry’s Tercero Wines, were eviscerated by the East Coast King Maker. Parker took the numerical and verbal gutting so far that he happily ignored his own rule of not publishing ratings lower than 85 points. Aside from one wine, which scored an 86 and was called “a superficial red with no real depth or layering,” the other wines scored in the low 80’s. Some of Parker’s critiques included gems like: … Continue Reading

Alma Rosa – The Valley of Giants

Alma Rosa – The Valley of Giants

How do you measure a man? How do you judge his life’s work? Is it by wealth, by notoriety, the opinions of others? For the banker, is it by the quantity of his assets, or the doctor by the lives he saved? What about the winemaker, is it his vineyard, his winery, his wine?

How do you measure a man?

It is a personal question that is shaped by our social and moral upbringing. Throughout the ages, man has admired men for their bravery, their acts of love, their knowledge, and their art. Each culture sets its own unwritten code of admirable values and accomplishments. Some are genuine accomplishments, while others are pure vanity, like striving after the wind.

They say, show me a man’s friends and I will show you the man, but what of a man’s heroes, his inspirations? I have asked that of winemakers throughout California, “who has inspired you?” There has been inspiration in wine’s rich history, in those who came before. Others find it in their mentors both past and present. Some, in a husband or wife. However, many have told me they find inspiration in a soft-spoken pioneer of grape growing from the Santa Rita Hills, Richard Sanford. … Continue Reading

Kunin – Middle Chapters

Kunin – Middle Chapters

Seth Kunin looks like the perfect Santa Barbaran. On a recent visit with him, he wore a dress shirt with the sleeves cuffed half way up his forearm, shorts, and Converse sans the laces and socks. He wears a short white beard and glasses. In Santa Barbara he could be a lawyer, a billionaire entrepreneur, a tech company CEO, or unemployed. His laid back dress is typical of Santa Barbara men’s fashion and is a reflection of his calm and collected personality.

Seth and his wife Megan pour and talk about their Kunin Wines from a sun filled tasting room a few blocks from the beach. It is an inviting space. In the back, a grid of shelves display neat rows of their wines; which are mostly Rhône varietals. In the front, there are several toys for their young daughter Phoebe. The tasting room, which until recently was shared with Westerly Vineyards, sees over 1,000 tasters a month, from locals to Los Angeles based beach goers and mustached hipsters. … Continue Reading

Zaca Mesa – Contending with Nature

Zaca Mesa – Contending with Nature

Chess, the beloved ancient game for the opulent and the humble masses. Played by both Kings and noblemen, and millions from the working class. Chess is a human heritage with its foundations in ancient India, before coming to Europe where it evolved and spread around the world. It has inspired us to create international champions and produce numerous books and films dissecting its every part.

Like chess wine is a global obsession. It has found favor with the opulent few and with millions of modest means. It has enticed men to lose vast fortunes and has even revived the moral of men at war. Wine is a part of our collective human inheritance; passed down through the ages.

As there is in Chess, wine has two contenders, the Winemaker and Mother Nature. Each has their pieces in which they utilize in attack against or in defense from their adversary. Nature, has her heat, wind, rain, and frost. The Winemaker, has his land, his winery, and his vineyard and cellar team that he uses to outplay and outthink Mother Nature. In this battle between adversaries there can be only a single outcome: success for one and failure for the other. … Continue Reading

Santa Barbara Winery, The Fight For A Name

Santa Barbara Winery, The Fight For A Name

For the first time in 16 years, sales of California wine were down in 2009. It would be easy to assume the economic downturn was to blame, but sales of wine across the US were up 2.1%. On the other hand, sales of wines produced in California were down 4%. There have been similar trends in liquor sales across the US, with bargain brands up and luxury brands down in sales. The furloughed and unemployed masses are reaching for a different kind of stimulus package, and a cheaper one at that. In California, many wines at the high end suffered losses while bargain brands and cheap imports soared. Americans are drinking more wine, just not more of their own.

In wine shops all over the world, the rally cry is “bargain, Bargain, BARGAIN”! Consumers are demanding more for less and getting it. It could be argued that many California wineries have backed themselves into a corner, enjoying year after year of success selling the kingly-wines of Napa Valley and elsewhere for kingly-prices. February’s Wine Spectator offered their annual overview of wine pricing. The average price of a California Cabernet sampled in 2009 out of some 585 was $119.00, even though 66% of those wines scored 89 points or less (just over a quarter scored 84 points or less) on the Wine Spectator 100 point scale. The market is adjusting itself as other industries like housing have. Personally, I would say: serves them right. … Continue Reading

Carr Winery

Carr Winery

The exterior of Carr Winery is similar to that of its owner’s: surprising. The building has more in common with an old airplane hanger than a winery. Located in an industrial section of downtown Santa Barbara, the white domed building sits amongst auto shops, industrial warehouses, and even a brewery. However, what you find inside is unexpected and beautiful. The dim lighting of the tasting bar provides an atmosphere reminiscent of a neighborhood tavern, and in many ways it is, as it plays host regularly to live bands and parties. In the back, stacks of barrels rise dramatically towards the high curved ceilings. A large stainless steel winepress sits in the corner.

In a similar way, Ryan Carr caught me off-guard. He towered over me (OK, at 5’8″ that’s not that hard to do, but still) as he came out to greet me. But Ryan, the man who owns his own label and manages several vineyards for others is also a young man. Now, while I am not going to say that, Ryan is also unexpected and beautiful; because that just sounds wrong and like I said, he is way bigger than me, I will say his deep knowledge of vineyard management, wine production, and marketing was very impressive. I get this reaction a lot myself, being the gentlemen scholar I am at such a tender age. … Continue Reading

{Archives}

Bonny Doon: Day of the Doon IX {Photo Essay}

September 22, 2011

Bonny Doon: Day of the Doon IX {Photo Essay}

We have grown rather accustomed to long trips for short stays, so much so that a 500 mile weekend is not such a big deal anymore. There are a lot of events we are invited to and we can only attend a few of them. But when Randall Graham asks you to attend, you attend. [...]

Secret Project {the reveal}

August 17, 2011

Secret Project {the reveal}

A few weeks ago I posted the “Secret Project” with some shots of  a friend’s new winery taking shape. At the time, the space was still in a raw state, holes in the ground, bare walls, cut concrete. In terms of photographing a new winery, one might say there was not much to see, no [...]

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Studio Holladay
Municipal Winemakers
Kunin Wines