Pam Maines Ostendorf, executive director of the Santa Barbara County Vintners' Assocation tells me three new people have been elected to the board and three incumbants have been re-elected. The newly-elected board members are Joe Kalina of JK Vineyard, Rick Longoria of Gainey and Longoria Wines and Kristy Battaglia Murray of Andrew Murray Vineyards.
Incumbants re-elected: Shawn Conroy Blom of Sanford Winery, Haley Firestone Jessup of Firestone and Jeff Maiken of Zaca Mesa. Record dollars for this month's KCBX fundraiser! According to KCBX Wine Classic executive director Archie McLaren, money flowed like wine during the six day event. The event exceeded everyone's expectations by bringing in a total of $432,395 in auction revenue, a 58 percent increase over last year.
McLaren added that attendance was up over 50 percent with over 3,000 enthusiastic tasters sampling the wares of 99 wineries at the Sunday afternoon grand winetasting.
With the great success of the KCBX fundraiser, not all of the winery participants shared in the elation. Longtime auction supporter and prominent winemaker Lane Tanner boycotted the event altogether this year. When the station officials cut back the "perks" to the donating wineries--the dinners, admittance to the auction and the catalog--for the donors, she faxed the station management, "$2,500 donation in exchange for two free passes to an event I have to work. Are you sure you can afford it?... How greedy can KCBX get? I have a new plan. You can keep your two free passes and I will keep my wine...."
In a fax to Ms. Tanner dated 7/16, McLaren responded: "...as long as no unforeseen dire circumstances arise, there will be no more fees for wineries for winery activities" starting with the 1997 KCBX Wine Classic. All's well that ends well.
On-going through August 22, Greg Brewer of Santa Barbara Winery is presenting a summer series wine course. Cost is $12 per session. For details call Greg at the winery. 963-3633. Thursday, July 25, 6:30 p.m., Steamer's presents a winemaker dinner with Alison Green Doran of the Firestone Vineyard. $55. 966-0260 for reservations. Friday, July 26, 7:30 p.m., Gainey presents the Juice Newton Band in concert. Gates open at 5:30. Bring a picnic. Reservations are a must. $28. 688-0558. Saturday, July 27, 7:30 p.m., Gainey presents Stanley Clarke in concert at the courtyard. Gates open at 5:30. Bring a picnic. Reservations are a must. $31. 688-0558. Saturday, July 27 & August 24, 6:30 p.m., Santa Ynez Winery presents a Twilight Dinner overlooking the vineyards. For menu, price and reservations, call 688-8381. Saturday, July 27, 6:30 p.m., Sunstone Vineyards presents a Dance by the Light of the Moon. Catering by New West. Reservations required. $65. 688-9463. Sunday, July 28, 1-4 p.m., Beckmen Vineyards presents its "Afternoon at the Pond Music Series." These afternoons will feature wine tasting and music, with light hors d'oeuvres featuring fresh bread from local bakeries. Call the winery for more details. 688-8664. Tuesday, July 30, the Victoria Restaurant & Pub in Ventura presents a brewer-vintner dinner with Firestone. On hand will be Firestone winemaker Alison Green Doran and Firestone brewmaster, Jeffers Richardson. For more information call 650-0060. Saturday and Sunday, August 3-4, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Cambria Winery will be open to the public. For more information, call 937-8091. Saturday, August 3, 5 p.m., the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail presents a "Full Moon Fever Vineyard Dance" at Foxen Winery. Tasting at 5; barbecue at 6; dance at 7. For more information call 688-3940. $40. Saturday & Sunday, August 10-11, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Leeward Winery presents its Taste of Ventura matching local foods and produce with the winery's releases. It's free. Reservations are not necessary. For more information call 656-5054. Sunday, August 11, Rancho Sisquoc presents another one of its "Sisquoc Sunday's". Stop by and meet Sisquoc's new winemaker, Carol Botwright. For more information call 934-4332. Friday, August 16, 7:30 p.m., Gainey presents the Harry James Orchestra in concert. Gates open at 5:30. Bring a picnic. Reservations required. $30. 688-0558. Saturday, August 17, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History presents a wine tasting seminar, the traditional festival on the beautiful museum grounds plus a silent auction and buffet supper. Reservations are required. Festival tickets are $45 before August 7 ($40 for museum members). 682-4711. Saturday, August 17, 7:30 p.m., Gainey presents Charlie Musselwhite in the final vineyard concert of the summer. Gates open at 5:30. Bring a picnic. $28. 688-0558. Saturday, August 24, 7 p.m., the Los Olivos Wine & Spirits Emporium presents a reception with Edna Valley winemaker, Steve Dooley with hors d'oeuvres catered by the Casmalia Hitching Post. Reservations required. $29. For details access the Internet at www://sbwines.com or call 688-4409. Saturday, August 24, 6 :30 p.m., Santa Ynez Winery presents another one of its Twilight Dinners. $50. Reservations required. 688-8381. Saturday, August 31, 6:30 p.m., Sunstone presents one of its dinners at the winery. The theme: Italian Street Party. The caterer: New West. The price: $65. Rerservations: 688-9463.
Rave:I had the chance to sample some "futures" at this year's KCBX Barrel Tasting. What struck me were the terrific attempts at Rhone varietals out in the eastern end of the Santa Ynez Valley where its too hot for chardonnay and pinot noir and the cabs forever and continually show those regional bell pepper characteristics. Specific samples that struck me as noteworthy were the syrah-mourvedre-grenache blend made by Rick Longoria from Gainey estate fruit, and Firestone's estate syrah.
For a decade or longer trailblazing winemaker Bob Lindquist from Qupe has been producing the consummate Rhone-style wines in north America from viognier, marsanne, syrah and mourvedre from the Ibarra-Young Vineyard near Los Olivos in the warmer climes of the Santa Ynez Valley (plus the highly acclaimed syrahs and viogniers from the Bien Nacido Vineyard in the cooler Santa Maria Valley). In more recent years, Zaca Mesa's winemaker, Dan Gehrs, has added further definition to our viticultural area for its emerging world-class status in Rhone varietals, specifically with his recent release Z Cuvee (a grenache-based blend), his syrah and Roussanne.
Quite possibly when the final chapter is written on California wine, the Santa Maria Valley will be known for its Burgundian and Rhone varietals and the Santa Ynez Valley will be know for both Rhone and Italian varietals.
Specific wines I tasted I would recommend: * Zaca Mesa's 1995 Roussanne which will be released in September--a wine with a great nose, mouth and finish--very varietal and worth searching out! * Whitcraft's 1995 Petite Sirah (yes! petite sirah--not the true Rhone syrah. Chris Whitcraft calls this the quintessential Santa Maria barbecue wine, and like his pinot noirs and chardonnays, has that seminal Whitcraft touch and magic. Look for a Spring 1997 release. * Qupè's 1995 Bien Nacido Vineyard Hillside Select syrah which will be released next year. (The first vintage, 1994, from the hillside block will be released next month.) It's a toss up. Either or both of these syrahs are quite probably the best syrahs ever produced outside of France's Rhone valley.
For Italian varietals look for Cambria's 1994 sangiovese from Tepusquet Vineyard and the 1995 Teraldigo made by Il Podere's Jim Clendenen. * For pinot noirs, look for the Hartley-Ostini 1995 Bien Nacido Vineyard pinot noir and Santa Barbara Winery's 1995 reserve pinot noir from Lafond Vineyard.
Bob Senn writes The Independent's monthly wine column, "Grapevine," and owns the Los Olivos Wine & Spirits Emporium.
Back to News Leads . . . .