As wine regions mature, so do winemakers’ experiments with countless techniques. In Santa Barbara County, that mounting experience is especially exciting when it comes to sparkling wines. Dave Potter at Municipal Winemakers — which started producing a sparkling red wine called The Fizz upon launching in 2007 — just disgorged bottles of bubbly syrah that have been on lees since 2008. That decade-old doozy is what I’ll be popping come New Year’s Eve. If you can’t get your hands on such a rarity, Potter sells more traditional bubbles under his Potek brand, available for around $65 at the winery/tasting room inside The Mill (406 E. Haley St.; potek.com).
Other solid options include Flying Goat, which is the county’s pioneer in this realm, having produced Goat Bubbles since 2005. The recently released 2016 Blanc de Noirs from Ampelos Vineyard is invigorating ($60; flyinggoatcellars.com). Riverbench, which started its bubbles in 2008, is now growing pinot Meunier in its Santa Maria Valley vineyard. Its 2016 Cork Jumper Pinot Meunier is a stunner. ($68; riverbench.com. Pence Vineyards captured the red fruit essence of gamay noir in their delicious 2015 Brut Rosé ($60; pencevineyards.com). And Sanford Winery assistant winemaker Laura Roach’s project Loubud impresses with each vintage. Looks like there’s still some 2018 Cebada Vineyards Brut Rosé ($50) left via her website, loubudwines.com. So hurry up, and happy New Year!