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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Lompoc Wine Ghetto Part 1

Wine tasting in a ghetto? It doesn’t sound like the normal grandeur that accompanies wine, but in this windswept corner of Santa Barbara County, the Lompoc Wine Ghetto has become a mecca for world-class, artisan wine production. Stripped down to the bare essentials, this industrial park maze, all asphalt and aluminum, spotlights the wine, in all of its intensity and raw charm, not adorned with wine country couture. Small lots of vibrant Pinot Noir that resonates fruit and savory notes and juicy Chardonnay that makes your mouth water for more are the highlights here.

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Press Release: Concerning the Proposed AVA Expansion

A petition to extend the eastern boundaries of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA was recently submitted to TTB by Patrick Shabram. The Sta. Rita Hills AVA lies within the larger Santa Ynez Valley AVA, an east-west transverse valley with a continuum of climatic and geological features influenced by its opening to the Pacific Ocean. The current and original AVA boundaries were carefully and exhaustively determined in 2001 by the original petitioners based on patterns of daily oceanic fog and temperature data. The eastern boundary to the AVA is a north-south range of hills that alters the sea fog pattern and brings an increase in daily temperatures moving east from this boundary. In the opinion of the original petitioners and the Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance (SRHWA), it is imperative that the cool-climate environment for winegrowing is maintained. A study of the data in the petition submitted by Mr. Shabram will be reviewed by the Alliance Board, but at this time the SRHWA stands by the integrity of the original and current boundaries.