By Steve Jacobson –
Wine tasting is a lot of fun. You get to try different wines from the same winery. You get to compare different wines side by side. You get to taste wines that you can’t get anywhere else. And often you can meet the people responsible for making the wine.
There is a place in Santa Barbara County called The Wine Ghetto (located in Lompoc, CA). It is a “campus” of industrial buildings all occupied by a variety of winemakers. These are winemakers that don’t necessarily own vineyards or have a winery open to the public. What is great about this place is that there are nineteen different wine companies in this small area. You can walk right in and taste the various wines they are offering without having to go back and forth to your car. Talk about your “power tasting”!
The Wine Ponderer and I will write up posts on a few of these tasting rooms in detail. But for now, here are some highlights.
Arcadian Winery – Nice people with a variety of Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Chardonnay. If you ask really nicely, they may pour you a taste of the 1997 Chardonnay. I bought a couple of 2004 Pinot Noirs from Pisoni Vineyard in 2012. They were sold out of that this time around.
Fiddlehead Cellars – Great Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc made by a female winemaker, Kathy Joseph. She does own a vineyard called Fiddlestix. Total production is about 5000 cases.
Flying Goat – One of my favorite Pinot Noir makers. I had the pleasure of being introduced to winemaker Norm Yost and Flying Goat around 2002… and have been drinking the different Pinots ever since.
Moretti Wines – Italian-born Antonio Moretti makes some wonderful California wines with an Italian flair. He is a passionate winemaker who only makes a small amount of wine available at the wine tasting room or through his Wine Club. He blends Italian white varietals – Tocai Friulano, Arneis and Malvasia Bianca – and makes a blend called Bianchetto. For his Italian red blend, he takes Dolcetto, Barbera and Nebbiolo and makes Rosso Mio.
Taste of Sta. Rita Hills Tasting Room – Antonia Moretti also has an interest in this tasting room that pours exclusive wine from a variety of wineries. Here you are able to get a taste of Brewer-Clifton, Clos Pepe, El Rey, Ken Brown, Kenneth Crawford, Kessler-Haak, Walt and Sea Smoke. Most are just wonderful and amazing wines. You are definitely tasting something very special here.
Zotovich Cellars – A variety of nice Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. Small production.
Palmina Wines – A “happening” tasting room with warm, friendly people pouring California wines made from Italian varietals including various Barberas and Nebbiolos, as well as a Sangiovese. I ended up purchasing a beautiful blend of Nebbiolo, Barbera and Syrah called Savoia.
There are a few other tasting rooms just a few blocks from the Wine Ghetto. One is worth mentioning: Brewer-Clifton. They make a full line of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from various vineyards.
If you are out wine tasting in the Santa Barbara area, don’t overlook the Lompoc Wine Ghetto. You won’t get the picturesque scenery that you will find at Foley or Melville or Dierberg. But you’ll definitely taste some gems and meet some great people along the way. Download our map and tell them Wine Ponder sent you.