Bob Senn, proprietor of the Los Olivos Wine & Spirits Emporium and wine columnist for the Santa Barbara Independent Weekly Newspaper has lived in and covered the Santa Barbara County and Central Coast Wine regions for years. Here's a little "inside" information about the producers from this area (and a few others, just for spice) which are represented by the Los Olivos Wine & Spirits Emporium.
For locations, phone numbers and visiting information for all the wineries (not just those listed here) in the Santa Barbara and Central Coast wine region, check out the Listing of Central Coast Wineries. Also don't miss the Santa Barbara Independent's Definitive Guide to Wine Tasting in Santa Barbara County.
And please, for our sake, take a look at our Stock List and Catalog for sales information on the wines from these fine producers! This web site also has information on visiting the area (including the Emporium where you can taste wines from these producers), maps, tour information and much more. We suggest checking out the site map for an overall view.
Alban Vineyards which is located in the Edna Valley of Central California is dedicated to the exclusive production of Rhone varietals. For owner-winemaker, John Alban, the passion is Viognier--that fickle, northern Rhone shy-bearing varietal, the rarest winegrape in the world which many a winemaker and consumer would deem the Holy Grail of white wine. His search for the best growing location in north America eventually led him to San Luis Obispo County and the Edna Valley where he built the winery and planted the vineyard. John also produces a big, Cote-Rotie-like Syrah, limited amounts of Roussanne and limited amounts of Grenache. The model for John's Grenache is Jacques Reynaud and Chateau Rayas. John Alban has produced for us an unctuous Roussanne, our current Market White and he has produced us a barrel of 1996 Roussanne too.The Los Olivos Wine & Spirits Emporiumis the tasting room for Alban wines.
Andrew Murray Vineyards is located near Zaca Mesa on Foxen Canyon Road here in the Santa Ynez Valley. Andrew Murray also specializes in Rhone varietals, hand made in small lots. Since they do not have a tasting room, Andrew Murray asked us if we would pour and represent their wines which we are delighted to do.
Baileyana is the project of the owners of Paragon Vineyards in the Edna Valley. The releases are chardonnay and pinot noir and were made by Gary Mosby of Chimere (the original winemaker at the Edna Valley Vineyard, where Paragon Vineyards is located). Bruno D'Alfonso, the winemaker at Sanford Winery, has produced the 1996 vintage.
Bonny Doon Vineyard & Ca'Del Solo. The winery tells us we're the largest retailer of their wines in California. Occasionally customers ask us why we carry Bonny Doon wines. The reasons are twofold: First, we believe they are uniquely some of the great wines of California. And second, they fill in gaps for us with neat varietals which or regular stable of local producers do not make--varietals like Orange Muscat, Malvasia Bianca, Charbono, dry Riesling, Pinot Meunier, and Garnacha. Bonny Doon & Ca'del Solo eaux de vies, grappas, brandies and other exotic distillations are the product of resolute genius, Randall Grahm. The Emporium has a complete inventory which include everything from the just released sangiovese grappa called Grappa del Fiasco, to the exquisite and rare, Grappa di Niagara.
Bristols Cider is the collaboration of two dedicated people who originally hail from Bristol in England. Known to some as the "kids from Bristol," they are Neil Collins, who for some time has made the wine at Adelaida with John Munch, and Fiona Duncan.
Being fans of English cider, they decided to put out a high quality cider here in the U.S. It's a very limited production cider. It's made from pippin and black twig apples. And it's made like Champagne--Methode Champenoise--double fermentation in the bottle without disgorging, so there will be some sediment. About 9 percent alcohol, this delicious cider is great by itself or terrific with food. Try it with turkey and stuffing and baked yams. Delicious.
Cambria Winery & Vineyard is a winery which is part of the Kendall Jackson family of fine wines and wineries. The winery is located east of Santa Maria in the Santa Maria Valley. The Los Olivos Wine & Spirits Emporium offers several wines from this esteemed producer--specifically their Syrah from Tepusquet Vineyards, and some of their estate bottled Pinot Noirs.
Chimere is a small Santa Barbara County winery located in Santa Maria, is owned Gary R. Mosby. After receiving his degree from UC Davis, Gary went to work for Ric Forman at Sterling. Through that connection, he landed a job as assistant winemaker under Dick Graff at Chalone. From Chalone, he came down to the Central Coast as the original winemaker at Edna Valley Vineyard, a partnership between Chalone and the Nivens family who owns the famous Paragon Vineyard in the Edna Valley. Gary served as winemaker there from 1979 to 1988. In 1989, he established Chimere, which in French means daydream, fantasy or illusion. He produces small amounts of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Nebbiolo. We call Gary "Son of Mosby" because his father Bill Mosby is the winemaker-owner at Mosby Winery just south of Buellton. Since our licensing allows it, we sell (but cannot offer for tasting) Mosby Winery's stunning spirits.
Clicquot.Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin is not local and they don't even have a California operation like Chandon does or Roederer does. We just happen to really like their Champagne and we keep it on hand for those occasional customers who want a fine French Champagne.
Cold Heaven. "What fresh hell is this?" reads the t-shirt of Morgan Toral of Cold Heaven, named for a poem by William Butler Yeats. Cold Heaven is the label and the name of the wine company of Morgan Toral who is producing her wine out at the Au Bon Climat-Qupe winery east of Santa Maria. Mentored by Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat, Morgan is producing wines from those special places in Cold Heaven--great vineyards in those coolest of cool, Region One reaches, of Santa Barbara County. Her first releases included Pinot Noir and Viognier.
Costa de Orois a Santa Maria Valley producer and the Los Olivos Wine & Spirits Emporium is their official tasting room. The wines are produced from grapes grown at Gold Coast Vineyards (Costa de Oro) and they are made by Gary Burk who is the assistant winemaker at Au Bon Climat and Qupe.
Eberle Winery. In sort of a roundabout way, it was Eberle Winery which spawned initial interest in Rhone varietals on the Central Coast. And it was the syrah planted at the old Estrella River Vineyards by Gary Eberle which Qupe's Bob Lindquist used for his first 1982 vintage syrah, a benchmark wine which many believe was the eye popper for Rhone varietals in this part of the world.
In 1974, Gary planted the 500 acre vineyard called Estrella River. After almost a decade at a winery which had grown to over 200,000 cases, he yearned for an operation of his own where he could concentrate on limited quantity, hand-crafted wines. This dream was realized in 1982 when Gary and Jeanie released the first wine bearing the Eberle Winery label.
While the winery started off with the mandate to produce the finest cabernet possible, today, the winery is producing some quite remarkable Rhone style wines in its portfolio. Several of these stylish wines are carried at the Los Olivos Wine & Spirits Emporium--specifically, the winery's Cotes du Robles, a Chateauneuf-du-Pape inspired wine, a blend of Syrah and Viognier from Fralich Vineyards and Counoise, Grenache and Mourvedre from Lauridsen Vineyards. Qupe's Bob Lindquist has dubbed the Emporium's proprietor as the "Rose King" of California. And in that vain, the Emporium occasionally pours and sells Eberle's unique Counoise Rose, the only 100 percent varietal in that style produced in the world we're told.
Fiddlehead Cellars is owned by Kathy Joseph who is also the winemaker. It is named after the delicate edible fern. She started Fiddlehead Cellars in 1989. Her 1989 Pinot Noir from the Santa Maria Valley was snapped up by The White House and is part of the wine cellar and is poured at state dinners. She produces two varietals from three regions. She makes two Pinot Noirs, one from California's Santa Maria Valley in Santa Barbara County and one from Oregon's Seven Spring Vineyard in the Willamette Valley appellation. She produces one Sauvignon Blanc from the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County. A graduate from UC Davis, Kathy was mentored by the great winemaker, Zelma Long, of Simi Winery. Kathy and her partners just recently purchased 133 acres out on Santa Rosa Road in the western end of the Santa Ynez Valley across from the Sanford & Benedict Vineyard. Planting the property should be taking place by the turn of the century.
Foxen Vineyard is a partnership between the "Foxen Boys" as they are known in these parts--two great minds--Bill Wathen and Dick Dore. The winery is on the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail in the Santa Maria Valley. They are usually only open on weekends. We love their wines--especially their Chenin Blanc and red Bordeaux varietals which we offer for sale here and occasionally open for tasting.
Fratelli Perata("Perata Brothers") is a Paso Robles winery of two grandsons of Italian immigrants. They continue the family tradition of making sturdy, complex red wines. A favorable microclimate and careful limitation of the number of tons per acre produces small grapes with more skin and less pulp, giving each berry more color and flavor. The winery uses only estate grown grapes to produce a wide range of hand-crafted wines, including Cabernet, Chardonnay, Merlot, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and Zinfandel.
Fermentation is done in small lots. Wines are racked barrel to barrel instead of in tanks. The Fratelli Perata believe in as little cellar treatment as possible, using no filter nor fining. Although these techniques are labor intensive, they have proven to produce wines of highest quality with less harsness and more flavor.
In keeping with their heritage, the Perata's wines are produced with not just the wines in mind, but also the belief that wines are an integral part of a gracious dining experience.
Germain-Robin distillery produces America's finest alambic brandies in the tradition of the great 19th century Cognacs. The distillery was started in the early 80s by Hubert Germain-Robin and Ansley Coale, Jr. They met in a chance happening when Ansley picked up Hubert and his wife who were hitchhiking through California. Ansley was a professor of classics and Hubert came from a prominent family of distillers in France. You may have heard of the fine cognacs from A.H. Robin. We sell the complete line of Germain-Robin's alambic brandies and mistelles. Plus we have our own "Montanaro Reserve" Market Brandy which we selected from barrel PV 49.
Hartley Ostini Hitching Post Pinot Noirs are made by Gary Hartley and Frank Ostini. Gary, a commercial fisherman when he's not making wine, spends summers in South West Alaska fishing salmon and winters off the California coast in the calamari fishery. Frank is owner/chef of the Hitching Post Restaurant in Buellton where, according to the Los Angeles Times, there are "perfect steaks and fries, and a daring pinot noir." A "must stop for beef and pinot lovers" says the New York Times.
Their first wine, a single barrel of Sierra Madre Pinot Noir, was made in 1981 in their garage. In 1984 Frank moved to Byron Winery to make wine with Lane Tanner for the restaurant. In 1991 Frank and Gary rekindled their winemaking partnership by making wines at the Au Bon Climat/Qupe Winery on the Bien Nacido Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley.
Though emphasizing pinot noir, the duo have also produced Zinfandel and Syrah.
They believe that great wine is made in the vineyard. With minimal processing their wines tend to reflect the character of the vintage and vineyard. They like the taste imparted by oak (and use Francois Freres French barrels) but belive the grape should be the dominant flavor in their wines.
Il Podere Dell'Olivos ("The small farm of Los Olivos") is the Italian varietals project of Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat and potter Sarah Chamberlin who designs the labels and who otherwise works as the CFO. We specialize in the Il Podere fortified Aleatico dessert wine which they call Pronto. This stunning dessert wine stands alone, or mixes well with bourbon whisky. In fact, Jim has invented a new cocktail called the Pronto Manhattan--Three parts Maker's Mark Bourbon Whisky to one part Pronto, which is the Il Podere dell'Olivos fortified aleatico dessert wine made by Jim. Use pronto instead of sweet vermouth. For bitters, use several dashes of Peychaud's. The Pronto Manhattan is available for tasting at both the Casmalia Hitching Post and the Buellton Hitching Post. In Buellton, they do it with a twist instead of the traditional cherry, which is an interesting twist on a classic drink. Il Podere is also producing an exotic distilled Moscato grappa, which will be available at The Los Olivos Wine & Spirits Emporium.
Jaffurs Wine Cellars, the successful project of Craig and Lee Jaffurs, is one of the newest members of the local Vintners' Association. Jaffurs is producing, big barrel-fermented Chardonnays and lovely Syrahs, both seeing generous amounts of American oak cooperage. The current vintage Chardonnay was blended with five percent viognier and coopered in some American oak. Craig also has a stunning Grenache from grapes grown at Stolpman Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley, and a red proprietary blend called Matilija Cuvee (named for the Matilija Poppy) which is basically Mourvedre blended with Syrah and Cabernet Franc. Craig and Lee also make Viognier, Mourvedre, Grenache and Roussanne.
JK Vineyard, dream of owner Joe Kalina, is located 3 miles from Solvang in the Santa Ynez Valley. The vineyard was first planted to Chardonnay and syrah was soon added. Joe likes to give garden-like care to each vine, saying that "Good wine does not take acreage, just good terroir, dedication and hard work." Grapes from the vineyard have been used by local winemakers since 1993, but Joe decided that the 1996 Chardonnay would be the first under his own label. It was made by winemaker Lane Tanner (who will use Joe's grapes in her upcoming 1997 syrah).
Kalyra is the project of Aussie Mike Brown. Mike came to the States over 15 years ago and got a Masters at UC Davis. Then he went to Zaca Mesa as assistant winemaker under Ken Brown. From there he went to Santa Ynez Winery as the winemaker. At Santa Ynez he started his own production under Kalyra, the Aboriginal word for wild and pleasant place. Looking at the label, you view the gorgeous Australian outback. His most recent vintages have a label with a new look--exciting Aboriginal dot art. Besides producing inviting fortified dessert, port-style wines, and occasional cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, syrah and merlot blends, Mike is the winemaker down the road from us at Buttonwood Farm Winery.
Knob Creekis one of the fine small batch bourbons from the James Beam Distilling Company. When the time is right and the spirits barreled nine years ago have been perfectly married with the oak, Knob Creek is hand bottled at 100 proof. The result is a rich, full-bodied bourbon favored by admirers of single malt Scotches.
Lane Tanner produces, many would argue, the most stunning, elegant, delicate pinot noirs in California, if not the world. Her winemaking style puts the emphasis on the fruit. Light mascerations and little if any new oak. A chemist by education, Lane says, "if you don't put it in, you don't have to take it out," and this explains why her wines are neither fined or filtered, with perhaps just an occasional "rock and frog filtration "as she calls it. Her mentor was the late great Dean of California Winemaking, Andre Tchelistcheff. She has worked as the enologist at both Firestone and Zaca Mesa, and Zaca Mesa to this day "honors" Lane with her own "alumnae signature series pinot noir" under their label. She produced her first wines for the Hitching Post restaurant in 1984 and in 1989 she started producing her own exquisite pinots under her own name.
Longoria, the label of Rick Longoria (consulting winemaker at Gainey) is featured at the Los Olivos Wine & Spirits Emporium. Rick was the original winemaker at Carey Cellars. He went to Gainey for the 1985 vintage. He has been producing limited amounts of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Bordeaux varietals since 1982. In 1997, he will be locating his own winery on Alamo Pintado Road between Curtis (formerly Carey) and Buttonwood Farm. When his tasting room is open, the Los Olivos Wine & Spirits Emporiumwill continue to offer Rick's wines.
Macmillan wines are the project of Craig Macmillan who was the staff enologist at the Central Coast Wine Warehouse in Santa Maria, home to such esteemed producers as Lane Tanner, Chris Whitcraft, Jaffurs and Moro Vino. Craig has a degree in philosophy from a university in Iowa. Craig specializes in Bordeaux varietals grown from high quality vineyards like French Camp Vineyard in far-flung places like Shandon, east of Paso Robles. He also produced a barrel of grenache rose which was release in 1995.
Maker's Mark Kentucky whisky we think is one of the finest whiskys made in the United States. It's a wheat based whisky, subtle and very fine. It seems almost sweet on the palate. Savor in a snifter or in a julep, or in a classic Pronto Manhattan.
Market Wines is a select project of the Los Olivos Wine & Spirits Emporium. They are wines made for us which we sell under our own name. The name came about because we were an old market--the Los Olivos Market. So it made sense to call our wines market white, red, vin gris, etc.
Label evolution has been a series for each release of drawings of the historic building. 1992 Market White was produced for us by Santa Barbara Winery. All barrel-fermented and full malolactic, the wine is 87% Santa Ynez Valley chenin blanc and 13 % sauvignon blanc. Label renderings come from Tommie van de Kamp, a graphic artist from the Napa Valley, Steve Hoegerman, a Santa Barbara native and friend who promotes the French Festival, and Donald Cecil, a commercial artist who lives in Ventura.
The 1994 Market Rose, is a barrel-fermented, Santa Maria Valley pinot noir vin gris produced for the Emporium by Lane Tanner. Fruit source is Bien Nacido Vineyard and Sierra Madre Vineyard. Label renderings come from Steve Hoegerman, Vadim Hsu, a Santa Barbara architect, and Doug Coleman, a home winemaker and friend who lives in Los Alamos.
The 1994 Market Roussanne was produced for us by John Alban of Alban Vineyards. The wine with our label is also sold as the house wine at Rumpus in San Francisco. Label rendering was done by Donald Cecil.
Our Montanaro Reserve Market Brandy was selected from small barrel PV 49 from Germain-Robin. Label renderings are a colorized version of the Steve Hoegerman label and a digital reproduction of the poppies and lupine water color behind the Emporium bar by former Santa Barbara artist Patricia Bason.
The 1995 Market Rose was produced by Craig Macmillan; the barrel-fermented wine is 86% Santa Ynez Valley grenache, 7% merlot and 7% sauvignon blanc. Label renderings are by Steve Hoegerman, Janet Pearce from The Emporium, and artist Randall Umland.
The 1996 Market Red is an Aleatico from French Camp Vineyard produced for the Emporium by Steve Dooley of Stephen Ross Wines. Market renderings are by Steve Hoegerman, a digitized image of the Hoegerman drawing by our friend and webmaster Brad Brown, and by Randall Umland.
The second bottling of Market Brandy from Germain-Robin barrel PV 49 (just several barrels away from The White House's barrel, yeah, that White House!) will have photographic renderings of the old market by Dave Folks, principal photographer at UC Santa Barbara, Kirk Irwin who produces the Santa Barbara Wine Calendar, Carole Daneri, an accomplished Santa Barbara photographer who is also a manager at Jasper's in Goleta, and a digital image by Brad Brown of Steve Hoegerman's original Emporium artwork.
Mosby Winery's owner-winemaker Bill Mosby has had custom distilled a grappa di traminer and a wild plum eau de vie which he calls Distillato di Prugne Selvaggie, and a new distillation of Oregon raspberries which the winery calls Acqua di Lampone. All three distillations are absolutely exquisite and available at the Emporium.
Old Rip Van Winkle is a small quality "boutique" distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. We offer the distillery's special Family Reserve bottling--twenty years old at 90.4 proof. One of the most mellow spirits you'll ever quaff.
Peychauds Bitters were hard to track down. They are from New Orleans, and they are the official bitters of the Pronto Manhattan which was invented by Jim Clendenen, the genius founder and winemaker of Au Bon Climat. With the purchase of a bottle of Pronto, you get $5 off the purchase of any bottle of Maker's Mark sold at the Emporium (with the exception of the mini).
Quady, based in California's central valley is not local, but is devoted to the exclusive production of dessert wines and ports. We believe Andy Quady consistently produces some of California's greatest dessert wines and we feature the Essensia, an orange muscat, Elysium, a black muscat, and Electra, a low alcohol orange muscat, slightly sparkling and a wine that works splendidly with Sunday brunch fare.
Qupe, founded by Bob Lindquist in 1982, is the Chumash Indian word for the golden poppy which is California's state flower. The winery is east of Santa Maria and not open to the public. The Los Olivos Wine & Spirits Emporium is Qupe's official tasting room.
Qupe is devoted to the production of classically rendered white burgundy and northern Rhone varietals, specifically Syrah, Marsanne and Viognier. The winery was the first commercial producer of Marsanne in the United States and the planting is in Charlotte Young Vineyard near Los Olivos and less than a mile from the Los Olivos Wine & Spirits Emporium. The winery also produces Mourvedre, a southern Rhone and provencal red grape, a stunning hillside select Syrah from Bien Nacido Vineyard and opulent Roussanne from the Alban Vineyard in the Edna Valley, and Qupe will soon be producing Roussanne from certified cuttings provided by Perrin family, proprietors of the famed Chateau de Beaucastel. The Los Olivos Wine & Spirits Emporium will also feature wines from the Provence producer Chateau Routas near Brignoles, made by Bob Lindquist.
Sanford & Benedict Vineyards Signature 9 Packs are a collection of pinot noirs from the fabled Sanford & Benedict Vineyard. They consist of a bottle of Au Bon Climat, Babcock, Foxen, Gainey, Lane Tanner, and Sanford plus three bottles of blend from the six producers just mentioned--the "signature of the vineyard."
Santa Barbara Winery produces a fine array of wines and has their own tasting room in downtown Santa Barbara. We have a "kindred relationship" with the winery. Los Olivos Wine & Spirits Emporium proprietor, Bob Senn, did the Santa Barbara Winery wine minute which aired on a local radio station for a number of years. And one of our staff members (sometimes emeritus), Janet Pearce, was their tasting room manager for several years. The Emporium carries and pours some of Santa Barbara Winery's incredible dessert wines, specifically the late harvest zinfandel essence and late harvest sauvignon blanc, the late harvest riesling, plus the winery's Beaujour, a nouveau beaujolais-style zinfandel, perfect with anything from turkey, stuffing and yams to steak tartar to being served slightly chilled in the summer with burgers and fresh guacamole.
Stephen Ross is Steve (Ross) Dooley. Steve succeeded Gary Mosby as the winemaker at Edna Valley Vineyard. Now he's on his own producing small amounts of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc. A resident of San Luis Obispo, Steve was the winemaker at Edna Valley from 1988 through 1994. Prior to making the wine at Edna Valley Vineyard, Steve had been the assistant winemaker at Louis Martini for a dozen years. We are pleased to offer Steve's limited production wines here at the Los Olivos Wine & Spirits Emporium. Steve also produced for us our first Market Red, our 1996 Aleatico from grapes grown at French Camp Vineyard.
Whitcraft is made by Chris Whitcraft, as empassioned with pinot noir and chardonnay as much as John Alban is with viognier. Besides an occasional odd lot of something like petite sirah, Chris devotes his winemaking to the varietals of Burgundy, pinot noir and chardonnay. At a reception once held at the Emporium, Chris told the audience that since he would probably never be able to afford the kind of red burgundies he liked to drink, so he would concentrate his efforts in making them. Limited quantities and old world methodology, he is quick to point out that no electricity is used in making his pinot noir.
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