' Santa Ynez Wine Country - Blog


November 14, 2014
By Cheryl K Stauffer
SYV Wine Country Association

In less than 2 weeks, our nation will celebrate its 393rd Thanksgiving. Give or take. This holiday—which as far as I can tell, is just a green light to eat yourself into the next size—first burst onto the scene in 1621. 
The Pilgrim’s spent 3 days celebrating their first successful harvest. Yay Pilgrims!  What we call “Thanksgiving Day,” the participants of the inaugural meal called
“The Harvest Celebration.”
While we don’t know exactly what they ate, historians agree that Venison was probably served at celebration zero—a thoughtful gift from the “Indians.”
There was most likely wildfowl as well, along with native fruits, local vegetables and nuts.
All washed down with water.
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February 2, 2014

Although it’s balmy here compared to the low temperatures on the East Coast and in the Midwest, it’s still chilly at night. This week we’re looking at nightly temperatures in the mid 40′s, but we’ve had our share of icy mornings. Whilst the vines sleep, the vineyard is still bustling with the activities of winter.

The pruning of heartier varieties: Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Syrah, takes place at this time of year. They get first dibs with the pruning shears because they are less sensitive to fluctuations in the weather at time of flowering here. These varieties tend to deliver a balanced crop more consistently. In contrast to these reliable grapes, our capricious French beauty, Merlot, and our impetuous Italian, Sangiovese, are more likely to either produce big crops or barely deliver. Pruning is delayed for these and other Bordeaux varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon to avoid exposure to inclement weather during flowering. Pruning may occur as late as March for these more vulnerable globes.

Different varieties are subject to different pruning techniques, some of which have existed for millennia. For example, the Sauvignon Blanc blocks are cane-pruned, followed by cane tying…all by hand. To observe the vineyard crew tying canes, watch the video below. Some left-over canes can be used as starts for self-rooting grapes. Select canes are properly cared for, then shipped off to other vineyards for storage and planting.

Alternatively, some varieties, such as Cabernet Franc, are spur-pruned and cordon trained. Size of grape clusters, position in the vineyard, irrigation and nutrition of the vines, target yield, and wind vulnerability are some of the contributing factors to the selection of pruning technique. It may be winter, and the vines might be dormant, but vineyard workers are awake and bustling with winter activities in preparation for the 2014 vintage.


January 26, 2012
Imagine Wine winemaker Ross Rankin has added a new Red Wine to his portfolio with the release of “Panty and Boxer Dropper Reds”. Barrel aged for one year, Ross describes the Santa Ynez Valley Syrah as having spicy oak aromas, juicy blackberry flavors and a bright finish. “Just the ticket for those potentially romantic nights!” says Ross. The label alone is a “must see”!

Join the launch of this new release at the Casino Night Panty-Dropper/Boxer-Dropper Valentines Launch Party where “Sometimes you get Lucky.” “Lucky”, their new Bluebird Mascot, will be helping release the long awaited “Naughty” Panty Dropper and Boxer Dropper® Syrah at the liveliest and “funnest” Santa Ynez Valentines fake gambling party ever thrown! Enjoy a fancy “good time” evening of great wine (three glasses of wine included, additional wine may be purchased), fake-gaming (you will be given thousands in chips to win or loose at will), delicious appetizers, dinner catered by Polka-Dot, old movies, and the “Lucky Girls” hostesses who will keep the party hopping in their Roaring 20′s outfits.

Space is limited so DON’T Delay. Tickets are $60.00 per person if purchased before January 30th and $70.00 per person after February 1st. Tickets are available at www.imaginewine.com or call 805-688-1769. Saturday February 11th from 7 PM until 11 PM. 21 and Over Only.

Prizes will be awarded for the best “Panty Dropper, Boxer Dropper” themed costume (no idea what that might mean but remember it is COLD in February). For the rest of you Dressy Casual is the dress for the evening. The Party will be at the Imagine Wine tasting room 3563 Numancia Street in Santa Ynez from 7 PM to 11 PM. A portion of the Proceeds will benefit Santa Barbara Based Aeromedicos, a 30 year old Baja Mexico Medical Clinic www.aeromedicos.org.


March 27, 2011
Leslie Mead-Renaud joined the Foley Family of Wines in August of 2010, and is currently Winemaker for Lincourt Vineyards, Foley Estates Vineyard and the Two Sisters brand. She currently lives here in the Santa Ynez Valley with her husband Tim and their two dogs. We had a nice afternoon chat on the lovely grounds of Lincourt Vineyard and Winery in Solvang:

: Everyone wants to know how a Winemaker got started, so tell us your story.

Leslie: Well, I received my college degree from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Resources, with an emphasis in aquatic resource management which is basically studying water pollution and providing environmental education. Unfortunately, that was a long time age when people weren’t quite into the environment as they are now. There were not a lot of jobs available in that field when I got out of college so most of the positions I held then were in forestry. I worked for the Forest Service in Oregon, conducting spotted owls surveys and later worked as an urban forester with PG&E in Calaveras County in Northern California. I happened to see an ad for a Lab Technician at Ironstone Vineyards in one those free weekly newspapers. Since I had chemistry background in college I thought it might be a good fit. I absolutely loved it, though didn’t know anything about wine at the time. That was in 1999. I then moved down to Sonoma and have been working in the wine industry ever since. I’ve loved it.

One of the things about this industry is that to get ahead you have to keep moving. I worked at several different wineries in a variety of roles, and then became an Enologist at Sonoma Creek Vineyards. I was later hired on as Winemaker for a small family owned operation. I really learned “by doing.”

SYVWCA: What is it about the winemaking experience that appeals to you?

Leslie: To me it’s this perfect blend of science and creativity. I‘ve always I loved to cook, to be able to create things by flavor, and I have always been interested in science. It’s a fascinating blending of the two.

SYVWCA: So what is a typical “Day in the Life” of a winemaker?

Leslie: It totally depends on the time of year. At this time of year, we’re watching the plants, hoping we don’t get a heavy freeze because we’re in the middle of a bud-break right now. Inside the winery we’re preparing for bottling, we’re putting blends together, stabilizing the tanks, and doing “market work”. This morning I was actually with several people who sell our wines throughout the country. I’ll go out to different markets, for example, I’m off to New York and Texas where we’ll meet with distributors, conduct wine tasting with sales people and visit with restaurants.

SYVWCA: What do consider one of your best vintages and why?

Leslie: 2007 and 2008 were probably the best; I don’t think it had anything to do with me, but favorable growing conditions. These were drought years where the plants didn’t grow as much and therefore the fruit was more concentrated. Because of the longer “hang time”, there were smaller clusters and smaller grapes which lead to really good concentration.

SYVWCA: What is your personal varietal preference?

Leslie: I’m partial to Pinot. I think Pinot expresses itself more differently than any other grape depending on where it is, what the climate is, what the root stalk is, whether it’s happy or sad. I think Pinot more than anything else tastes most differently within its own varietal.

SYVWCA: How did you come to the Foley Family of Vineyards?

Bill Foley actually called me on the phone himself. “Hi, this is Bill Foley and I have a project I want you to help me with.” I was quite amazed that he called me himself as he is a very busy guy. It would have been a tough opportunity to turn down. That project was Linocourt Vineyards and I later went on to include Foley and then Two Sisters.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

I really look forward to getting to know the area and working with some pretty amazing fruit.

Well Leslie, we welcome you to your new home here in Santa Ynez Valley and look forward to your future vintages .

You can meet Leslie in person, next Saturday, April 2ndat Lincourt Vineyard’s Winemaker Barrel Tasting event. She’ll be offering a preview of Lincourt’s 2009 vintage wines, direct from the barrel! Reserve your spot here!


March 3, 2011
Our Wine Fantasy in February on Valentine’s Day Weekend was both fun and a successful weekend for our member wineries. Everyone did a fine job of providing delicious nibbles accompanied by the premier wines selected for the occasion, and our attendees had a great time as well. I had the pleasure of speaking with many of you and appreciate the favorable comments you made regarding the passport weekend. As expressed by many, we have fans that return year after year to enjoy these events, and we do appreciate the loyalty.

So, here are a few highlights of the weekend:

The weather cooperated nicely, it was fine day with temperatures in the high 70’s for most of the afternoon. Great weather for cruising the Valley, convertible top down and favorite tunes on the iPod.

Buttonwood Farms’ Tasting Room Manager, Kurt, switched hats for theButtonwine Farms Winery day and donned an apron and spatula to create both lovely and tasty heart shaped burgers – even the buns were carefully cut in the shape of a heart! A fantastic spicy tomato chutney on the side and brownies for dessert; I think Kurt earns the 2011 February Wine Fantasy Top Chef Award!

Not to be outdone, however, Tatyana, Hospitality Manager at Lincourt Vineyards put out a gourmet spread in the Barrel Room with a selection of gourmet cheeses, breads, meats, fruits, a great Chardonnay Mousse Pate and variety of truffles and chocolates.

Over in Los Olivos, the back garden at Daniel Gehrs Wines was bustling with patrons enjoying wines poured under the shade of the outdoor wine bar and sophisticated flavors of goat cheese, red pepper meatballs, cranberries, strawberries and chocolates.

A group of teachers, annual participants in this event, were enjoying themselves in the Arthur Earl tasting room amidst owner Nancy’s lovely Valentine’s Day décor and treats of meatballs, assorted dips, chocolate chip cookies & white chocolate.

Two young ladies found a romance with Scott Cellar’s wide selection of wines poured and enlightening conversation with owner and winemaker Peter Scott Fraser himself.

Back in Solvang, the crowds were in full swing. I could barely nudge my way through Presidio Winery’s tasting room where numerous patrons were enjoying the organic wines and hors’ de oeuvres while Chris, Tasting Room Manager, was attentively pouring and mingling with the fans.

The Lucas and Lewellen tasting room was similarly buzzing with wine enthusiasts and pasta lovers enjoying the fare and Mediterranean ambiance. Normally a place to preoccupy children, this couple dined in the only seat in the house.

At Casa Cassara in Buellton, Barbara entertained and educated a group of long time participants who flew in from Nevada to enjoy our event. “A brief trip but every bit worth it” they said. Barbara’s Sauvignon Blanc Spinach Dip and Merlot Meatballs were the perfect finish to the day’s samplings.

Meanwhile, Imagine Tasting Room and Art Gallery in Santa Ynez was a creative hub with owner LynDee’s Valentine’s Day card crafting a big hit. Many adults spent their time cutting, drawing and gluing that perfect card for their sweethearts (and the 10% discount on wines). LynDee’s homemade truffles were snapped up quickly, much to my dismay, as I didn’t get to try them but word was they were fabulous.

A big thanks to all the participants who joined us and we look forward to your return. For those who missed this one, you have plenty of opportunity to join in on the fun at the upcoming events during the remainder of the year. Visit our website www.santaynezwinecountry.com for more information. For more fun photos, visit our Facebook Page.

And don’t forget to “Like” our Fan Page to receive updates on our member wineries, events and special offers.

Save the Date! Stars Stripes and Syrah, July 2nd, 2011


February 10, 2011

In the quaint country town of Los Olivos, you will find what was once known as “Heather Cottage”, an historic residence dating back to the early 1900’s and now home to the Daniel Gehrs tasting room. Once a doctor’s office and subsequently a residence and boutique gift shop, the house welcomes you as if you were a long lost relative come to visit.

The building retains its original floor-plan with the offices in what once were bedrooms, the retail wine displays in the former parlor and the gift shop in what was once the kitchen. Here you will find a splendid display of French Country and English cottage-themed items and numerous wine-related gifts and books. The whitewashed wood flooring adds a special touch as does the classic wooden bar and brass foot railing of the tasting bar.

Meander out back and enjoy your tasting at the outdoor wine bar under the shade of the trees in the garden. The setting is rustic and charming with wood and wrought iron tables and chairs and early spring flowers planted in pots, old bathtubs and wine barrels. You might also find yourself rubbing the tummy of one of the resident cats during its afternoon nap.

Your servers not only pour your wine but educate you in the process carefully explaining the history or origin of the wines you are sampling. Often you’ll find that your host is one of the owners, or Daniel Gehrs himself. While his highly regarded red wines are most popular, he also produces Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling and Gewurztraminer.

What better way to celebrate the Valentines Day weekend than to join in on our Wine Fantasy in February and stop in at Heather Cottage, find a place under the tree, sip a glass of wine and enjoy the following delectable fare:
  • Goat Cheese Log with Red Pepper Jelly & Crackers
  • Meatballs with Cranberries
  • Red Pepper Tapenade with Baguettes
  • Fresh Strawberries with Sour Cream and Brown Sugar
  • Dark Chocolates paired with Port


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