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La Encantada Vineyard {photo essay}

June 27, 2011 The Press Comments Off
La Encantada Vineyard {photo essay}

Every once in a while we come across a truly spectacular vineyard in our travels. Richard Sanford’s La Encantada Vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills is such a place. Sadly, the La Encantada Vineyard, which he planted in 2000, was recently sold to investors. Richard told us this a few weeks ago, but it was not public at the time.

Happily though, for fans of Richard’s Alma Rosa wines, he will continue to source much of his fruit from the beautiful and dramatic vineyard, which was one of the first to be certified organic in Santa Barbara County.

The following was shot last Summer. (read the Richard Sanford interview here)

The Regions – Sta. Rita Hills and Santa Maria Valley

The Regions – Sta. Rita Hills and Santa Maria Valley

I remember when I first heard that a Sommelier, a good Sommelier, I mean a really good one, could decipher not only varietal and region, but even vineyard source and vintage in a blind tasting. It blew my mind. It still blows my mind. The fact that any person can know that much about wine or about anything for that matter, is impressive to say the least.

As time went on and I was exposed to more wine (and better wine), I began to comprehend how someone could accomplish such as task. While I am many long pours away from picking out a vineyard designate 1997 Burgundy from a group of Pinots from around the World, I have learned to start picking our distinct differences in California wines. The more I drink the more I am trained to recognize characteristics common to varietals and regions from all over the state.

… 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

Sea Smoke Cellars – This Is Sea Smoke

August 26, 2010 Archieves 13 Comments
Sea Smoke Cellars – This Is Sea Smoke

I have seen two of Bob Davids’ homes. One is a gorgeous tropical pavilion in the foothills of Mount Batur, Bali. The other, is a 20′ tow behind trailer perched high on a hillside overlooking his Sta. Rita Hills vineyard. The first I saw on page 68 of August’s Architectural Digest and the latter I saw in person a few weeks ago.

To understand the home in Indonesia, you need to know that Mr. Davids did well for himself as CEO of one of the world’s largest toy companies. To understand the second, the trailer, which seems an odd choice for a man with the ability to live where he pleases, you need to understand the vineyard he planted and what he has accomplished on its wind blown slopes. It is an unlikely home for both Davids and the Pinot Noir grapes he loves.

… Continue Reading

“The Birth of an American Viticultural Area” By: Wes Hagen

“The Birth of an American Viticultural Area” By: Wes Hagen

Let’s take a slightly different view of the wine world this week.  I’d like to leave the nuts and bolts of vineyard management for a few moments and discuss the descriptive system of wine appellations in the United States, a Federal program overseen by the TTB, or Tax and Trade Bureau.  But before you start to think that this is going to be a boring blog full of bellicose bureaucracy, let me guarantee that I will be injecting the subject with enough interesting anecdote and incisive commentary to keep it interesting and entertaining (although pouring a tall glass of pinot noir makes any of my blogs more palatable).

First, a quick vineyard update.  The weather has taken another cool, foggy and windy turn as low pressure trofs continue to move over the Central Coast, keeping us in the high 60’s.  While most folks don’t think about June in California as sweater weather, it really has been.  There have been some warm days, as well, but the nights have been in the high 40’s and the vines are growing slowly, methodically, and finishing their fruit set and marching toward bunch closure in a very patient and easy manner.  Cool weather means we’ll turn off the irrigation for a few weeks until we see a warm up and an increase in evapotranspiration, which is a measurement of how much water is both being used by a plant and how much is evaporating out of the soil. … Continue Reading

Lafond Vineyard – Pioneers and Pinot Noir

Lafond Vineyard – Pioneers and Pinot Noir

Santa Barbara, the American Riviera. First settled by the Chumash Indians and later colonized by Spanish Missionaries in the late 1700′s, Santa Barbara continues to be a cultural mixing pot. Santa Barbara straddles the line between Central and Southern California lifestyles. From hippie communes in the hills, to billionaire moguls, there is something for everyone in the city embraced between the mountains and sea. Few places in California allow for a surf session in the morning, rock climbing in the afternoon, and a fine dinner and Yo-Yo Ma in the evening, all without leaving the city limits. Almost the entire California experience can be had in Santa Barbara, if only Robert Iger would build a theme park.

The original Santa Barbara Mission, a key landmark within the city, founded in 1786, was rebuilt after it was destroyed by an earthquake-induced tsunami in 1812. The rebuilt mission remains one of the most impressive in California, affectionately called The Queen of the Missions. The Spanish colonization influenced Santa Barbara greatly through the centuries. The mission and other historic structures remain threads that tie the identity of the city together. History pairs with high fashion in a city known for its museums and shopping. Street names and neighborhoods bare Spanish names like Carrillo, Chapala, Sola, and San Roque. Interestingly, it was Sebastián Vizcaino in 1602, a Spanish soldier that gave Santa Barbara its name (he passed through the Santa Barbara Channel on Dec. 3, the eve of the feast of St. Barbara) along with Point Conception, and San Diego. … Continue Reading

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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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