Thursday, April 24, 2014

After The Santa Barbara Vintners Festival

What to do after the Santa Barbara Vintners Festival?  
After tasting 80 different wines at the Vintners festival on Saturday a trip to some nearby wineries on Sunday was a great way to taste another 20 wines--for an even 100 tastes! On Saturday we drove west from Buellton along the Sta. Rita Hills Wine Trail (East Highway 246) to stay in Lompoc. The next morning we visited a few places in the wine ghetto that I'd heard so much about. We also stopped for one tasting along 246 on our way back.
Photography by Devon Scheef
Sunday morning we found the Cajun Kitchen in Lompoc and had beignets and other Cajun food for breakfast. It was excellent!
We were ready to start tasting early so we could beat the rush hour heading south from Santa Barbara back to Westlake Village.  
We drove around Lompoc until we reached the wine ghetto and, yes, it was industrial. It was only about 10 am when we found Zotovich Cellars and they were open; unlike most other places that weren't open until 11 or 12.  I enjoyed tasting a few Zotovich wines at the last two wine festivals and it was a priority place to visit--so it worked out perfect that we found it first!

ZOTOVICH CELLARS
We enjoyed the Zotovich wines, tasting room, discussion about their winemaking history, and the cheese and crackers.

An extensive line-up of wines was available for tasting and it took about an hour to sample them all:
2010 Chardonnay Estate, Sta. Rita Hills
2011 Chardonnay Estate, Sta. Rita Hills
2012 Pinot Noir Rosé Estate, Sta. Rita Hills
2009 Pinot Noir Estate, Sta. Rita Hills
2010 Pinot Noir Estate, Sta. Rita Hills
2011 Pinot Noir Estate, Sta. Rita Hills
2009 Syrah Estate, Sta. Rita Hills
2010 Syrah Estate, Sta. Rita Hills
2011 Syrah Estate, Sta. Rita Hills

All of them were above average wines, but I especially liked the 2010 Pinot Noir Estate Sta. Rita Hills. Definitely tasted the sweet red and dark berry flavors in their tasting notes. This turned out to be the best red wine I tasted at both the wine festival and on our mini-tour.

The other exceptional wines were:
2009 Pinot Noir Estate Sta. Rita Hills
2011 Pinot Noir Estate Sta. Rita Hills
2010 Syrah Estate Sta. Rita Hills.


In other words, I really liked ALL of their Pinot Noir!  And the Goat Gouda cheese was great too.

BREWER-CLIFTON
My previous tastes of Brewer-Clifton were the 2012 3-D Chardonnay at the wine festival the day before and several of their wines at the Santa Barbara Wine Festival in 2012 (2009 Sweeney Canyon Chardonnay, 2010 Machado Pinot Noir, 2010 Mount Carmel Pinot Noir, and 2010 3-D Pinot Noir).  
I wasn't crazy about the 3-D Chardonnay (with Meyer Lemon zest aroma and Lemon Curd flavor it was just too lemony). However, the other five wines that were being poured in the tasting room were all excellent as far as I'm concerned:
2012 Chardonnay, Gnesa Vineyard
2012 Chardonnay, Hapgood Vineyard
2012 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills
2012 Pinot Noir, Machado Vineyard
2012 Pinot Noir, Hapgood Vineyard

The crackers, cheese, fruit, and chocolate snacks were very good too!

FOLEY ESTATES VINEYARD & WINERY
The Foley vineyard and winery are a change from the wine ghetto in Lompoc. The estate is a scenic location and the winery tasting room is a collection of wine tasting bars, a gift shop and a fireplace lounge area.

The mixed flight of wines included two white wines and three red wines.  And they were all very good, of course!
2011 Chardonnay, Steel
2011 Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills
2010 Chardonnay, Bar Lazy S
2011 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills
2011 Pinot Noir, T Anchor Ranch

My favorites were the two Chardonnays and the 2011 Pinot Noir, T Anchor Ranch. The Chardonnay in steel was definitely lively and zingy while the toasted oak and honey in the SRH Chardonnay was much more mellow.  Luckily, I like both styles! The T Anchor Ranch Pinot Noir with its raspberry and strawberry fruit plus leather is a special wine (and has a special price to go with it, although it's a little better if you join the wine club, of course).


Devon liked the 2011 Chardonnay, Steel and the shopping was fun too.

WINE RATINGS VS. RETAIL PRICE
It's tough to compare all of these very nice wines, but I like to consider my individual wine ratings and the retail price of each wine so I can think about shopping for these wines while considering my budget. I get the following results for the eight white wines:
  1. Foley 2011 Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills
  2. Foley 2011 Chardonnay, Steel
  3. Zotovich 2011 Chardonnay Estate, Sta. Rita Hills
  4. Zotovich 2010 Chardonnay Estate, Sta. Rita Hills
  5. Brewer - Clifton 2012 Chardonnay, Hapgood Vineyard
  6. Brewer - Clifton 2012 Chardonnay, Gnesa Vineyard
  7. Foley Estates Vineyard & Winery 2010 Chardonnay, Bar Lazy S
  8. Brewer - Clifton 2012 Chardonnay, 3-D Vineyard
Adding the retail price into the mix made the rosé the top-rated wine on the combined rosé/red list.  The rosé/red wine rating vs. retail price results are:
  1. Zotovich 2012 Pinot Noir Rosé Estate, Sta. Rita Hills   
  2. Zotovich 2010 Pinot Noir Estate, Sta. Rita Hills
  3. Brewer-Clifton 2012 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills
  4. Zotovich 2011 Pinot Noir Estate, Sta. Rita Hills
  5. Foley 2011 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills
  6. Foley 2011 Pinot Noir, T Anchor Ranch
  7. Zotovich 2009 Pinot Noir Estate Sta. Rita Hills
  8. Zotovich 2010 Syrah Estate, Sta. Rita Hills
  9. Zotovich 2011 Syrah Estate, Sta. Rita Hills
  10. Zotovich 2009 Syrah Estate, Sta. Rita Hills
  11. Brewer-Clifton 2012 Pinot Noir, Machado Vineyard
  12. Brewer-Clifton 2012 Pinot Noir, Hapgood Vineyard
What a great area to visit! Next time I need at least a 3-day weekend to cover more of the Lompoc Wine Ghetto and Sta. Rita Hills Wine Trail.

CHEERS!

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