The Santa Barbara County Vintners' Festival has come and gone, and the entire time I felt like a kid who only had a couple of hours to ride all the rides at Disneyland.
The minute I stepped foot on the grass at Lompoc's River Park, the tent awnings, looming at me, emblazoned with the names of wineries galore, put butterflies in my stomach.
While attempting to taste as much as possible, I also tried to take my time, talking to pourers, winemakers, and other festival-ees. And although I didn't make it to every winery on my list (ahem, Tantara, Tensley, Longoria...), the festival was very satisfying.
I decided to fully immerse myself in the fun and not bring a notepad along, but nonetheless think the festival deserves a re-cap. Please note that many of S.B. County's greatest wineries are not on this list, as I chose to visit wineries that I have not tasted at in quite some time. That said, this is not a list of the "best" wines and wineries there, but rather a few that stood out and have remained in my (wine-soaked) memory.
Babcock's 2007 "Top Cream" Chardonnay: True to its name, this Chard had a great balance of fruit and oak, with a lusciously long, creamy finish.
Zaca Mesa's 2006 Rousanne and
2006 Z Cuvee: A big, juicy California-style Rhone blend (Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, Cinsault).
Margerum's 2007 M5: Another great Californian representation of a Chateauneuf du Pape blend, this wine uses five varietals from twelve different vineyards.
Carhartt's 2006 Estate Merlot: Merlot can be hard to come by in Santa Barbara County, but the Carhartts prove that a good one can, indeed, be done here.
Tre Anelli's 2007 Dolcetto: Dolcetto is traditionally on the mellower side of the Italian varietals, but Tre Anelli saved this one for last in their line-up-- and appropriately so. Their new-world take on the varietal is powerful, dark, and tannic. Not to mention a nice punctuation between all the Pinot Noirs and Syrahs.
The following wineries had all-around great wines, and deserve an honorable mention:
Sea Smoke, D'Alfonso-Curran, Demetria, Flying Goat, Au Bon Climat, Vogelzang, Curtis, Alma Rosa, Ampelos, Demetria, Dragonette, Foxen
It's quite painful to refrain from listing the wineries I undoubtedly know had great wines. Instead, I encourage all the wine lovers to revel in the rest of the festival weekend and continue tasting through the valley even after all the festivities are over.
If yesterday's event taught me anything, it's that there's too much fantastic wine in Santa Barbara to taste in just one day. But that doesn't mean anyone has given up on trying.