I say all the time…”You can take the girl out of California, but you can’t take the California out of the girl.” I crave sunshine, rolling hills, and sunsets over the water on a daily basis. Yes, California is magnificent and the sun shines 300+ days a year. Its no surprise then that a place with consistently moderate temperatures, slopes, low humidity, and eternal sunshine produces brilliant wine.
I generally only mention a single wine in my posts; however, I am so infatuated with Santa Barbara Winery that it only seems natural to describe my three favorites. Interestingly, this winery was the first to produce in Santa Barbara after Prohibition in 1962. Today there are more than 100 wineries and 20,000 acres in this central coast county. If you haven’t been to California, Santa Barbara is where the real beauty begins. Finally away from the LA chaos and ready to cruise north along Pacific Coast Highway (aka Hwy 1), you will be enchanted by the rich farmland on your right and the sun setting over the ocean on your left. The cool sea breeze in Santa Barbara provides a moderate climate perfect for light whites and medium bodied reds. The movie Sideways accredited Santa Barbara as a brilliant wine producing region because of its ability to produce one of the most fickle grapes, Pinot Noir.
If you are looking for a Sauvignon Blanc to carry through the summer and still be fitting for other seasons to come, Santa Barbara produces one that over delivers in depth and flavor. This 90 point wine rated by Wine Enthusiast has much more unique flavors than the traditional characteristics of a Sauvignon Blanc. This wine takes crisp acidity and citrus notes to a whole new level. 8% of the wine has Riesling which adds nice tropical notes. 20% of the wine is aged in barrels giving a slightly oak backbone. Most Sauvignon Blancs are fermented in stainless steel only. 40% of the wine comes from vineyard sites that are 36 years old. These vines add a depth and concentration that many new world Sauvignon Blancs can’t compare with. Grab a glass today and be amazed by the color and complexity this wine creates. Retail value:$15
Often times I am the biggest critic of California Chardonnays. They tend to be too buttery and oaky that the grape itself is lost in the wine. I do agree that malolatic fermentation (helps create the buttery notes on wine) and oak add a complexity to Chardonnay that is necessary; however, too many producers overdo it. Santa Barbara Chardonnay actually only lets half of the grapes see malolactic fermentation and oak. The result is a 55-45 blend of the perfect balance. Color and concentration are not sacrificed and the wine becomes much more food friendly. With notes of apple and pear, this wine accompanies almost any great appetizer, fish, or chicken.
Cabernet Sauvignon has always been the shining star of California red wine, although I think Zinfandel can easily hold up in richness and quality. Santa Barbara ZCS is a blend of 60%Zinfandel, 24% Carignan, and 16% Sangiovese. The Zinfandel comes from 50 year old vines and the cooler climate produces a food friendly and jammy wine. Carignan, often seen in French blends adds structure and Sangiovese, the primary grape in Italian Chianti creates a cherry backbone. This wine screams barbecue chicken and ribs. For a simple barbecue sauce to complement the fruit in this wine, see below…
Barbecue Sauce with Apricot Preserves
1 tbsp garlic
1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
2 tbsp oil
1 cup ketchup
1 tbsp Worcestershire
1/4 cup apricot preserves
1 tsp chili powder