On October 4, 2010, the day after his mom died at the end of a 15-year fight against multiple sclerosis, Bryan Hope cleared his mind by picking chardonnay grapes from a vineyard on East Valley Road, a free crop of fruit that he had stumbled upon while searching Craigslist for a lawnmower. It had been a dreary summer, so powdery mildew nearly annihilated the crop, but Hope pulled enough grapes to fill about a quarter of a half-ton bin. “I wanted to make it in the style that my mom liked,” said Hope, who made 50 total bottles of native yeast-fermented wine at Demetria Estate Winery, one of his favorite places to take people on his Sustainable Vine Wine Tours (sustainablevine.com), “and she liked oaky, buttery chardonnay.”
To mark the one-year anniversary of Marcy Hope’s passing, Bryan sent out about two dozen bottles to family and close friends, and on October 3 of this year, they drank in unison. Last week, I got my chance to sip one of the few remaining Marcy bottles under a massive avocado tree on Chino Street in the yard of Tyler Tomblin, who is Hope’s good friend, despite being the co-owner of competing wine country company Stagecoach Co. Wine Tours (winetourssantaynez.com). It was a soulful chard, golden and impressively balanced for a first-time winemaker like Hope, even standing up strongly to Sanguis Wine’s recently released and extra excellent Polly Anne Chardonnay. (The afternoon tasting also featured two 1983 Sanford & Benedict wines — a cab and pinot, both well past their primes — as well as the Refugio Ranch’s beautiful Barbareño blend of syrah and petite sirah and Harrison Clarke’s Cuvée Charlotte, a whopper syrah.) To further honor his mom, Hope is donating a couple bottles and a Sustainable Wine tour to Hospice of Santa Barbara for an auction next year.
So what would Marcy have thought of the results? “Are you kidding me?” responded Hope. “She would have loved it!”