Want a small-batch rosé with that craft-brewed IPA? Or some syrah with your saison?
Such offerings weren’t historically possible inside of a California brewery, but those questions are exactly what you might hear today at Draughtsmen Aleworks. The Goleta brewery is one of the first in the state to take advantage of a 2020 law that allows wine, spirits, and cider to be made alongside beer, and their first releases of Star Pine Cellars are now being served.
“They were looking for someone who could produce the wine and utilize the space in a better way,” said Star Pine’s winemaker Brian McKinnon, a software engineer at LogMeIn by day who’d been making homemade wine for a few years, and knew the Draughtsmen crew through brewery visits — he’s a “Lifetime Member” — and Sunday bicycle rides. “I already had a good relationship with them.”
The collaboration uses the facility more efficiently, as certain beer processes can be quiet when wine needs attention, and vice versa. “There’s a whole lot of reuse,” said McKinnon. “For that reason, you’ll probably see more of this in the future.”
Plus, the brewery was already equipped with certain tanks, glycol systems, and operational know-how around fermentation and sanitation that got Star Pine off to a running start. “Things like this were a huge advantage for a small producer starting out,” said McKinnon.
For the inaugural 2020 vintage, McKinnon, who grew up off Turnpike Road, made 17 barrels of wine, including syrah and grenache from Ballard Canyon, roussanne from the Santa Ynez Valley, and a rosé of syrah, which was the first wine they served on draft. They’re also pouring pinot noir and viognier made elsewhere from previous vintages.
Winemakers often express concern about their barrels being too close to brewing beer, which can have yeasts and bacteria that can spoil wine. McKinnon thinks such concerns are overblown. “We follow every sanitary practice and are careful about segmenting specific equipment so there is no cross-contamination,” he explained, further noting that Draughtsmen’s brewer Reno King isn’t interested in the sort of yeasts that are most harmful to wine. “Reno wants nothing to do with souring yeasts at all. We don’t have to worry about that.”
For Draughtsmen cofounder Tami Snow, who opened the brewery with her partners in April 2016, the wine is just another way to connect with fans. “I feel like this gives us an advantage for another high-quality product that we can offer to people,” said Snow, explaining that Draughtsmen also produces cider and non-alcoholic hopped tea. “The idea is to make really small-batch beverages that span a bunch of different categories.”
Not all laws have bent to their advantage, for Draughtsmen can’t yet sell Star Pine wines downtown at their Mosaic location on State Street. But they are hoping to get that approval soon from the state.
As to the name, McKinnon took inspiration from his Mission Canyon home. “There happens to be this incredible star pine,” he explained of the view. “We sit out there quite often, watching sunsets and having a glass of wine. We wanted to have a name that reminds us of a good time, of a relaxing and fun atmosphere. It’s meaningful to us.”
53 Santa Felicia Dr., Goleta; (805) 387-2577; draughtsmenaleworks.com.
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