By Cheryl Stauffer
SYV Wine Country Association
In the mid-1970’s, the first farmers planted vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley, among them, Erik Brander and his son, Fred. Today the Brander Vineyard thrives in Los Olivos, and is still best known for its Sauvignon Blanc.
About the same time that the Branders were planting, Daniel Gehrs was learning the wine business. When he decided to produce his own label and open a tasting room, Daniel Gehrs Wines was born.
And then came Iris Rideau, a New Orleans native who planted her estate with Rhone varietals. These wines were best suited to pair with the Creole cuisine of her childhood. Her tasting room is reminiscent of French Victorian New Orleans. Naturally, she named it Rideau Vineyard.
Casa Cassara is another no-frills winery name. The family matriarch dubbed the land “Casa Cassara” many years before grapes were planted. It seemed a natural progression to name the winery after the land.
Over 20 years ago, best friends and computer company co-workers Arthur Alexander and Earl Wayne ventured into the wine business together. Shortly thereafter, the Alexander & Wayne Winery was born.
Wanting to expand into different varietals, the dynamic duo started another winery just five years later. This time around, they used their first names to create the Arthur Earl Winery.
Others partnering-up in that era include Louie Lucas, an already established area farmer, and Royce Lewellen, a retired Superior Court judge. Together, they created a winery. If you guessed they named it Louie Royce Wines, then you’d be wrong. They chose the more traditional path of using last names and created Lucas & Lewellen.
When in doubt about using first or last names, some wineries opt for a bit of creative license, and make up their own names.
Sisters Lindsay and Courtney were the inspiration behind Lincourt Vineyards, named by their father and winery owner Bill Foley. Like the names of hurricanes past, Bill only uses the names of women in his enterprises.
Just step on the grounds of Buttonwood Farm Winery and you’ll see where it got its name. Years before the vineyards were planted, the farm was named after the Buttonwood trees that abounded on the property. These beauties are one of two trees native to Santa Barbara County and have distinct brown, ball-like seed clusters or “buttons.”
How does a philosophy major morph into a winemaker? Ross Rankin feels people must imagine what life path they will take, before actually embarking on the journey. That’s what he did. He imagined and embarked and Imagine Wine was the result.
When does a simple moment turn into the “aha” moment? For Brit Zotovich, it happened while sipping wine outside her hillside trailer on one of those breathtaking Santa Ynez evenings overlooking a vineyard. Côte is French for “side,” and dream means… dream. And The Dreamcôte Wine Company means the realization of an idea born on the side of a hill, while enjoying wine, outside a trailer.
The shadows of John Wright and his 7-year-old son can be seen on their winery logo. It was all quite simple and innocent when John enlisted the help of his family to name their new winery. His son asked his dad if he remembered when they were standing in the sun.
John remembered. Standing Sun Wines.
And every now and again, someone says something that you remember because it made you feel good. Winemaker Brent Melville was having a particularly good day on the golf course. His opponent called him a lucky dog. Brent liked this, and remembered it when it came time to name his new winery. Lucky Dogg it was. The double g’s? Some other lucky dog had already registered the name with the common spelling. Just as well, we all know that two g’s are better than one.