Flying Goats and Trendsetting Bubblers

How Norm Yost’s Fascination with High-Acidity Pinots Led to Santa Barbara’s First Steady Sparkling Wine

In the late 1970s, when Norm Yost left his hometown of Mill Valley to start college at UC Davis, no one could have predicted that the beer-drinking football player would, nearly 30 years later, become the first in Santa Barbara wine country to produce a steady line of sparkling wines. “I like to think that we set the trend,” said Yost, explaining that, while at least one S.B. winery had done a sparkler in the past, his Goat Bubbles — produced in Lompoc under his Flying Goat Cellars label — is the first one to stick. And the public immediately responded, said Yost, explaining, “People were banging on the door for it.”

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Grape-Nutz Reviews the Sta. Rita Hills Northern California Road Trip by Ken Zinns


"Overall, the wines poured at this tasting were very good, and of high quality. There was a fairly high percentage of the total number of wines that made my favorites list, and there were a few more that just missed it. Kessler-Haak and Longoria presented two of the stronger wine line-ups at the tasting, and Kessler-Haak and Liquid Farm stood out among the producers that were new to me. The whites at the tasting were quite nice, and my favorites included several varieties. I noticed that the Pinots that were among my favorites were evenly split among the 2009, 2010, and 2011 vintages – they all had something to offer. As I’ve found in the past, Pinot Noirs from the Sta. Rita Hills tend to be on the bigger, more “masculine” end of the Pinot spectrum, but they retain very good acidity, most likely due to the soils and climate of the region. In fact, I think that fine acidity is the single most distinguishing characteristic of wines from this AVA.

This tasting did a fine job of showcasing some of the best wines coming from the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, and it introduced me to several newer producers who are already making some standout wines. I’m looking forward to the next Sta. Rita Hills Northern California Road Trip."

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