Game of Clones: Rusack Vineyards Launches New Lineup of Wines
By Gabe Saglie   |   October 19, 2021

The appeal of Rusack Vineyards’ brand new 2019 Sauvignon Blanc ($26) has a lot to do with a clone called musqué. Referred to as “clone 27” in the biz, it’s well-known for its powerful perfume. “We’re going for a really aromatic white wine style,” winemaker Steve Gerbac told me this week. “We want you to […]

Turning Tide: New Wine Label Spotlights Sustainability
By Gabe Saglie   |   October 5, 2021

Her new label, Turning Tide, marks a significant shift for winemaker Alisa Jacobson. As director of winemaking for 19 years for the mega producer Joel Gott, she oversaw the production of some 1.6 million cases of wine a year. With her new pet project, she’s spearheading a far smaller output of right around 1,000 cases […]

Supreme Tribute: Montecito Importer’s New Wine Honors Justice Ginsburg
By Gabe Saglie   |   September 21, 2021

A Montecito importer is commemorating Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death with the launch of a limited-edition wine. The 2018 “Ruth” Special Edition Roussanne is an organic white wine produced in France. It’ll officially become available on September 18, to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the passing of the revered Supreme Court justice. Justice Ginsburg served […]

Wine Parties Are Back: California Wine Festival Signals Post-Pandemic Return
By Gabe Saglie   |   September 14, 2021

When Travelzoo surveyed its 16 million U.S. member base early this summer, gauging comfort levels around events and activities, 34% said they were ready to attend a wine festival. And as the summer’s rolled on, and as vaccinations have increased, that number, even while tempered by the emergence of COVID-19 variants, has grown. That’s a […]

Dinner with a Side of Polo: New Fieldside Grill Offers Distinctive Culinary Experience
By Gabe Saglie   |   September 9, 2021

One of the newest spots to eat in town is a longstanding destination all its own. The Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club is one of the oldest of its kind in the U.S., and its polo season, which runs May through October and lures a sophisticated crowd to both play and watch from all […]

Through Different Eyes: New Collaboration Showcases Famous Vineyard in New Light
By Gabe Saglie   |   August 24, 2021

Much of the storied reputation of Bien Nacido Vineyards stems from the scrupulous involvement of its owners. Brothers Bob and Steve Miller planted Bien Nacido — “well born” in Spanish — in 1973, a rolling plot in the Santa Maria Valley whose rocky soils and cool climate would go on to create one of the […]

Drink Red and Chill: Cooling Down Some Red Wines Has its Benefits
By Gabe Saglie   |   August 19, 2021

Winemaker Sherman Thacher prefers to chill some of his reds and to use them, even, to shift between courses at dinner. “If you’re going from appetizers to something heartier, and maybe going from a white wine to a red, and you’re sitting outside, maybe barbecuing, a chilled red can really be a great transition,” he […]

A Sense of Belonging: Private Clubs Add to Santa Barbara’s Residential Appeal
By Gabe Saglie   |   August 12, 2021

Among the unexpected silver linings of the pandemic? The fact that the appeal of living in Santa Barbara’s South Coast has surged, and surged in a big way. An enclave like Montecito is not all that far from the urban sprawl of Los Angeles, where a pandemic-inspired exodus continues. But, as so many residents and […]

“The World’s Best Undiscovered Brand” Montecito Couple’s Label Delivers Stellar Wines
By Gabe Saglie   |   July 29, 2021

As I make my way through the private gated community, and up the driveway that snakes through Kimsey Vineyard, the wind begins to pick up in earnest. It’s 3 pm, and the breeze, in its crescendo, is making the vines sway in the bright afternoon sun. This is a regular phenomenon, it turns out — […]

From the Miramar’s Cellar to Yours: Resort Launches Fine Wine Club
By Gabe Saglie   |   June 17, 2021

A new club launched by the wine team at the Rosewood Miramar Beach is aiming to elevate your at-home quaffing experience. The new Miramar Collective is a chance for fans of the Miramar experience — and any fan of fine wine — to access bottles whose premium caliber mirrors the wine list at Caruso’s, the […]

‘Patience and Persistence Paid Off’: San Ysidro Ranch’s Wine Collection Returns to its Glory
By Gabe Saglie   |   May 27, 2021

For the wine program at the San Ysidro Ranch, 2021 has been a very good year. The lucrative wine selection at the landmark luxury resort was completely destroyed when mudslides roared across the Montecito foothills in 2018. Millions of dollars in some of the world’s very best wine — more than 12,000 bottles and a […]

In Memoriam: Jim Clendenen, Au Bon Climat Wine Legend, Remembered as ‘Larger Than Life’
By Gabe Saglie   |   May 18, 2021

The Santa Barbara wine industry — and the wine world as a whole — lost one of its superstars when Jim Clendenen died over the weekend. He passed away at his home in Buellton, in his sleep. He was 68. Wine aficionados who did not know him personally certainly knew his wine, especially his flagship […]

Pop the Cork, Hold the Booze: Local Winemaker Launches Alcohol-Free Wine-Inspired Drinks
By Gabe Saglie   |   May 13, 2021

As we begin to push out of this pandemic, and as the light at the end of the tunnel grows brighter, many Americans are taking stock of how their drinking habits have changed over the last year. As one would guess, the angst and anxiety wrought by many months of lockdowns, restrictions, and Zoom calls […]

Everything’s Coming Up Rosés These Pink Wines are Perfect for Spring
By Gabe Saglie   |   April 22, 2021

Timing has a lot to do with rosé. That pink color – an alluring hue that can range from salmon to blush – is the by-product of grape juice and grape skins coming in contact for a few hours, or for a day, maybe two or three, until just enough tint bleeds into the wine. […]

One Winemaker, Three Labels: Sanger Family of Wines Offers Impressive Variety
By Gabe Saglie   |   April 1, 2021

I love chatting alcohol with Brett Escalera – as in the alcohol content in wine. Many seasoned sippers, after all, make judgment calls on wine based on the percentage marked on the label, with their predilection for lower alcohol based on the assumption that a wine with less booze will be a better match for […]

Pinot Noir All Month Long: Famous Annual Wine Event Goes Virtual
By Gabe Saglie   |   March 11, 2021

Pinot noir lovers normally have the first weekend in March highlighted on their calendars. After all, it’s a weekend usually dedicated to the World of Pinot Noir (WOPN), the annual gathering of winemakers and wine consumers who fete Burgundy’s most famous red grape. Launched in 2001, the event has been held at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara […]

Sense of Place J. Wilkes Wines Focus on ‘Appellation Expression’
By Gabe Saglie   |   February 18, 2021

When I launched my wine writing career in Santa Barbara some 20 years ago, Jeff Wilkes was one of the first personalities I came to know. His enthusiasm for the wines he shared with me was infectious. And his energy and sense of humor made him a fantastic wine sipping companion. Wilkes was a salesman […]

Wine Country Presents Restaurant Weeks
By Gabe Saglie   |   January 22, 2021

Annual Promo Takes on Extra Significance in 2021 Restaurant Weeks is a yearly promotion by the Santa Ynez Valley dining scene. It’s weeks, plural – two full weeks of prix-fixe menus and value pricing that highlight the remarkable food and wine options to be found in the six charming towns that define Santa Barbara’s wine […]

Fizzle and Pop: These Bubbles Will Help You Send 2020 On Its Way
By Gabe Saglie   |   December 24, 2020

The new three-week stay-at-home order that befell California this month means Santa Barbara County’s wine tasting rooms are shuttered, again. Your own hunt for great local wines to grace the holiday table and end-of-year festivities, though, continues. So keep in mind that, while the deadline for many shipments to arrive by Christmas has passed, there’s […]

A Santa Barbara First: Winemaker Greg Brewer Gets Top Honor
By Gabe Saglie   |   November 26, 2020

The latest honor for winemaker Greg Brewer is a perk for Santa Barbara County, too: it’s the first time a Santa Barbara-based vintner has been named Winemaker of the Year by the popular publication, Wine Enthusiast. “The accolade is flattering because my name is on it,” Brewer said last week after the award was announced. […]

A Perfect Wine: Santa Barbara Co. Label Earns Elusive 100 Point Score
By Gabe Saglie   |   October 13, 2020

Winemaker Paul Lato says, “there’s a really big gap between 99 and 100.” The celebrated vintner, a Polish native who was a sommelier in Canada before he moved to the Central Coast in 2002, has earned many coveted scores for wines under his eponymous label, along with a fervent consumer following. But 100 points for […]

Grape Recognition
By Gabe Saglie   |   September 3, 2020

Alisos Canyon Gains AVA, the seventh for Santa Barbara County Santa Barbara vintners are celebrating the feds’ decision last week to designate Alisos Canyon as an American Viticultural Area, the seventh for the county. This new AVA covers 5,774 acres nestled in the Los Alamos Valley, roughly between the Santa Ynez and Santa Maria Valleys. […]

New Hands at the Helm: Folded Hills Hires New Winemaker
By Gabe Saglie   |   July 2, 2020

An important change of the guard at Folded Hills: the winery has hired a new winemaker. Michael Brughelli brings a diverse background to the Folded Hills project, which operates a sprawling estate and vineyard off Highway 101 in Gaviota and an elegant tasting room in Montecito. The 38-year-old Nipomo resident gained particular acclaim with Scar […]

Clink for a Cause: Couple Selling Unique Wine Glasses to Aid Restaurants
By Gabe Saglie   |   April 30, 2020

Sarah Boggs likes to reminisce about living out her formative years in New Orleans. “People were constantly outside, constantly enjoying neighbors and friends, constantly going to festivals,” she recalls. “And they were always drinking!” Her move to Santa Barbara provided much of the same: an outdoor-driven lifestyle and plenty of good wine to drink. “We’re […]

Finding Opportunity in a Shutdown: How Santa Barbara’s Wine Industry is Taking on Coronavirus
By Gabe Saglie   |   March 26, 2020

The grinding halt wrought by a virus sprinting across the globe has certainly not spared the Santa Barbara wine industry. These are businesses that depend on foot traffic, on one-to-one connections, on personalized experience. Shut that down, as the recent mandate by Governor Newsom (understandably) did, asking all wineries and tasting rooms to temporarily close, […]

Santa Barbara Culinary Experience Targets Wine Lovers
By Gabe Saglie   |   March 5, 2020

It is fitting, of course, that a world-class culinary affair inspired by Julia Child would take place in Santa Barbara. The beloved chef summered on its shores as a child, and it was in the bucolic enclave of Montecito that she chose to spend her final years. Indeed, the Santa Barbara Culinary Experience, coming the […]

The Bet on Rhone that Paid Off: Epiphany Cellars Turns 20
By Gabe Saglie   |   February 27, 2020

When Eli Parker launched his pet project, Epiphany Cellars, 20 years ago, his dad had doubts. “He was not thrilled with what he perceived to be a distraction at the time,” says the vintner, referencing Fess Parker, the Disney icon who launched his eponymous wine brand in 1989. Ten years in, the label, anchored on […]

Santa Barbara Restaurant Week
By Gabe Saglie   |   February 20, 2020

Santa Barbara Restaurant Week is back – a gastronomic extravaganza starring some of the South Coast’s top eateries and some of the best bang-for-your-buck eating you’ll find all year. The promotion, which features prix-fixe menus at three price points – $25, $35 and $45 – lasts two full weeks, from February 21 through March 6. […]

More Than Just Food: Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks Target Wine Lovers, Too
By Gabe Saglie   |   January 23, 2020

Have you seen all the promos for Restaurant Week? It’s a national phenomenon throughout the winter season, actually: destinations leveraging the appeal of their top chefs (and the allure of value) to entice consumers and beef up foot traffic during a historically slow travel time of the year. Santa Barbara’s Restaurant Week returns February 21 […]

Rusack’s Chardonnay Program Delivers Three Unique Wines
By Gabe Saglie   |   January 16, 2020

You could call chardonnay Santa Barbara County’s darling grape. There’s more of it growing here than any other wine grape, blanketing more than 7500 acres. Much of it is gobbled up by wine producers in Northern California – the chard here is simply better – while Santa Barbara winemakers aim each year to make Burgundy’s […]

Seasonal Bubbles: Local Sparkling Wines Abound
By Gabe Saglie   |   December 12, 2019

Sales of sparkling wines are on the rise right now, historically soaring between the Thanksgiving and New Year’s holidays. Sparklers connote celebration, of course. They’re a great option to have on hand for rich holiday meals, too, since the effervescence in every sip cleanses the palate of the richness in every bite. The French and […]

Liquid Leftovers: 10 Tips For Preserving Your Thanksgiving Wine
By Gabe Saglie   |   November 26, 2019

If you do Thanksgiving right, it’s not just edible leftovers you’ll be enjoying the next day. The cavalcade of flavors on your table means you’ll be popping a lot of corks, too – a wide range of wines to match a wide range of foods. And while Tupperware and aluminum foil works well when it […]

Members Only: What Wine Clubs Are All About
By Gabe Saglie   |   November 21, 2019

Loyalty has its rewards. That’s certainly a fact in the travel industry, where repeat stays at your favorite hotel and repeat flights on your favorite airline can translate to upgrades, freebies, and being made to feel like a VIP. Oenophiles can tap into special perks, too, thanks to wine clubs, which can be a boon […]

Whiskey in the Jar: Ireland Sees New Growth in Longstanding Industry
By Gabe Saglie   |   November 7, 2019

My latest work trip to Ireland last week was fueled by food. The island nation is in the throes of a new three-month festival, Taste the Island, spotlighting its current culinary renaissance and luring international travelers with myriad foodie events. I spent the week doing recon by following my taste buds, and by happily gaining […]

Alma Rosa 2.0: Famous Santa Barbara Wine Label Launches New Look & Experiences
By Gabe Saglie   |   October 24, 2019

At its core, it is business as usual at Alma Rosa Winery – nothing’s changed. The popular label founded in 2005 is still in the hands of wine legend Richard Sanford, still growing grapes organically and still producing some of the best pinot noir and chardonnay that Santa Barbara County has to offer. But a […]

Tasting Redefined: Brave & Maiden Estate Aims to Elevate the Wine Experience
By Gabe Saglie   |   October 17, 2019

Jason Djang is crystal clear about the Brave & Maiden philosophy. “We want to change the dynamic of the wine tasting experience,” he tells me, as we meander through his 70-acre estate in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley. He’s explaining the one-on-one approach to tasting here, which is by appointment only and unhurried […]

Wine Through the Lens: New Hardcover Book Spotlights Local Industry
By Gabe Saglie   |   October 10, 2019

There are plenty of photography books on how wine is made, and by whom, and what tasting rooms look like,” declares George Rose, who happens to be a real whiz behind the lens himself. “I set out with the idea of showcasing where the grapes are grown. This is about the land and the people […]

A Survivor Gives Back: New Wine Benefits Cancer Patients
By Gabe Saglie   |   October 3, 2019

Brittany Rice doesn’t wallow in her struggles. She beat cancer once when she was three – acute lymphatic leukemia, which was eradicated after seven years of experimental trials. And she beat it twice when she was 39 – ovarian cancer, from which she’s free and clear today. The youngest of three who grew up in […]

Bye-Bye Bottle? Wine in Aluminum Cans is Becoming All the Rage
By Gabe Saglie   |   October 1, 2019

I enjoyed a lovely rosé wine over the weekend. It was refreshing, with a pretty light pink hue, a delicate fizz on the tongue and yummy flavors of red berries and citrus. The finish was especially quenching – dry, perky, and clean. There was one thing about this wine that was especially remarkable, though: it […]

Celebrating a Sense of Place: Famous Santa Maria Vineyard Turns 20
By Gabe Saglie   |   September 19, 2019

When the boundaries for the Santa Maria Valley AVA were drawn, they excluded a thousand-acre plot of land so far west, it was considered too cold to grow grapes. An AVA, or American Viticultural Area, is a carefully outlined ag area that’s been determined by the federal government, through myriad considerations like topography and climate, […]