Rick and Diana Longoria have experienced just about everything in their 30-plus years of making Santa Barbara County wine, from being the first to convert industrial park space into what’s become the Lompoc Wine Ghetto to planting Fe Ciega, one of the Sta. Rita Hills’ premier pinot noir vineyards.
But this harvest season, for the first time ever, the Longorias are making wine in a facility that they themselves designed and own, opening their brand-new winery in early August just one day before crushing their first batch of 2014 grapes. And this Sunday, as part of one of the many events going on as part of the Santa Barbara Vintners’ annual Celebration of Harvest weekend, they celebrate the grand opening of their adjacent tasting room, which is inside the former employee club for the diatomaceous earth mine on Chestnut Avenue in Lompoc.
“After 30-some-odd years, you start to wonder whether you’re ever going to have your own place, or are you just gonna be a renter your whole life?” said Rick, who purchased the old JM Club property after a grueling seven-month escrow in December 2012 and then spent the entire next year dealing with financing (their first loan officer quit the bank, setting the whole process back), architecture (to spruce up the club into a comfortable tasting room and build the roughly 4,000-square-foot production facility), and a process “fraught” with issues. “So 2013 was a lost year,” said Rick, who attended Lompoc’s Cabrillo High and makes about 3,000 cases of wine a year. “But it came together better than expected, and the town is really supportive.”
Rick admits to missing the daily interaction with other winemakers at the nearby wine ghetto, which now has dozens of wineries and tasting rooms, but the Longorias aren’t really bittersweet about the move. “This place is just so nice,” said Rick, who proudly displays clippings about the building’s previous mining company owners, which were one of Lompoc’s major employers for decades. “It’s really the melding of Lompoc history and the wine industry.”
Longoria Winery’s grand opening is Sunday, October 12, noon-3 p.m., at 415 East Chestnut Avenue, Lompoc. See longoriawine.com or call (866) 759-4637. They’ll also be pouring at this weekend’s Celebration of Harvest grand tasting on Saturday, 1-4 p.m., at Mission Santa Inés. For a full schedule of events — including an educational panel moderated by me on Saturday morning that features wines from Margerum, Stolpman, Casa Dumetz, Foxen, Andrew Murray, and Alma Rosa — see celebrationofharvest.com.