SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA: started in 1996 by Steve Clifton and Greg Brewer. As Jay McInerny of the Wall Street Journal puts it: “crafted by ex-surfer and rock singer Steve Clifton and ex-French professor Greg Brewer in a prefab metal shed located in an industrial park not far from the Lompoc prison. After tasting their chards I knew I had to meet these guys. It’s sort of amusing to imagine that their odd-couple chemistry has something to do with the contradictory lean/fleshy quality of their wines. Mr. Brewer is a lean, hyperactive former competitive cyclist; the Laguna-bred Mr. Clifton still seems much more like a surfer than an oenologist, brawnier and far more laid back. But both are quick to credit the unique geography of their chosen region.”
And indeed they are: they talk a lot about their respect for nature, the essence of their vineyards, the unique climate of the Santa Rita Hills, the high intensity, high acidity wines it engenders, and its singular suitability for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Their winemaking gospel is the geographic, geologic and climatic uniqueness of their beloved Santa Rita Hills. Their mission is to present wines that convey the characteristics inherent to each of their vineyard sites, with uncompromising quality. All vineyards are located within 8 miles of the winery and all grapes are harvested in the cool, early morning, arriving at the winery by 8 in the morning. These are extraordinary wines with a striking fusion of savoury, mineral notes, leanness, and acidity and yet at the same time phenomenal intensity and richness.