Pandemic aside, the year 2020 is a big one for winemaker Greg Brewer.
He’s celebrating his 30th year in the wine industry and his 25th year at the helm of Brewer-Clifton, the Lompoc-based brand he cofounded with Steve Clifton in 1995. But most significantly, Brewer is now being toasted as Winemaker of the Year, an honor being bestowed by Wine Enthusiast as part of the magazine’s annual Wine Star Awards. (Full disclosure: I also work for Wine Enthusiast and wrote the article that accompanied Brewer’s award.)
A humble, thoughtful vintner who also makes the Diatom and Ex Post Facto wines, Brewer sees the honor as vindication not of himself but of the Sta. Rita Hills, the appellation between Buellton and Lompoc that he’s touted for a quarter century. “It really is an acknowledgement of the appellation in my eyes,” Brewer told Wine Enthusiast. “It’s really not me. It’s everyone who has come before and everyone who will come after. The Sta. Rita Hills is my identity. It’s not where I work. It’s ultimately who I am. This shines a really beautiful light on the efforts of everybody in the area. We all should be celebrating in this huge honor.”
In a typical year, the Wine Star Awards are presented during a gala, held last year at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco and in previous years at the Eden Roc in Miami and New York City Public Library in Manhattan. That won’t be happening this year, but that isn’t stopping Santa Barbara County’s wine community from toasting Brewer with pride and glee.
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