Though he may be better known for the award-winning pinot noirs he crafts with Greg Brewer under the Brewer-Clifton label, Steve Clifton’s “first love” has always been Italian varietals. That’s why he started Palmina Winery as his first label in 1995, focusing on barberas, dolcettos, nebbiolos, and other grapes that aren’t very common around these parts.

This Saturday, July 27, the Cliftons are inviting all to their annual pizza party at Honea Vineyards, the place where many of these grapes are grown in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley. It’s the first time they are taking their party out of the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, where they make and sell their wines, and into the vineyard. There will also be music, with the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation receiving some of the night’s proceeds.

Steve Clifton making pizza.

In anticipation of that, Steve Clifton recently answered a few quick questions via email.

How do Italian varietals perform in the Santa Ynez Valley?

In my humble opinion, better than anything else grown here.

Then why aren’t more folks producing Italian-style wines?

Typically, Italian varietals play more of a supporting role instead of a starring role and that’s not what California wine culture has traditionally been about.

What can people expect from Saturday’s party?

Fresh, local food, great wine, an incredible setting, and a lot of fun!


Palmina Winery’s Pizza Party is Saturday, July 27, 6-9 p.m., at Honea Vineyard. Click here for details and tickets, and see for more info.


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