Currently, we work with six varieties from four vineyards: three, spread throughout the Central Coast (where we learned to make wine),
and one in San Diego County (where we live).
Kick On Ranch
Santa Barbara County
Riesling, Pinot noir, Pinot gris
Behind Vandenberg Air Force Base in the tiny town of Los Alamos grow rows of vibrant vines, with nearly as much energy as a midnight rocket launch. Riesling, Pinot noir, and Pinot gris thrive in the decomposed-seabed ground. The chilly microclimate and abundant late-morning sunshine on this side of town allow the fruit to develop gorgeous complexity, while ripening at relatively lower sugar levels.
We have made wine from Kick On Ranch since 2010, when we sought out the Riesling fruit after tasting a stellar example by pioneering Central Coast winemaker Adam Tolmach of The Ojai Vineyard. We fell in love with the site at first, well, sight.
Pinot noir joined our repertoire in 2011, and Pinot gris rounded out the trifecta in 2012. This vineyard has a voice we love to hear.
Santa Barbara Highlands
Santa Barbara County
3,200 feet above sea level and an hour from "civilization" in every direction, the SBHV is equal parts remote and remarkable. Summer days are hot, and the wind blows hard. The Pacific breeze turns cold after dark. You'll find no balmy beaches in this corner of Santa Barbara; the terrain is a land apart, unto itself. It changes you, a place like this.
When we decided we wanted to make wine, we knew not much else except: we would look to our Central-Coast friends for help; and, we wanted to make Grenache. We met vineyard manager Lino Bozzano in 2009. He agreed to take a chance on some starry-eyed novices, and we've worked with this incredible fruit ever since.
San Luis Obispo County
On the opposite end of Highway 166 from the Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard, past miles of bumpy dirt road where cows freely graze (and sometimes, stand, until they're good and ready to move), rises Alamo Creek Vineyard. Hundred-year-old oak trees surround the vines. Syrah is the star here, struggling in the rocky soil. Its roots plunge deep, digging for the aquifer that, in years of good winter rain (our last was 2011, the first year we made this wine; we are thirsty for more), allow the vines to be completely dry-farmed.
There is an exuberance to the Alamo Creek Syrah; a sunny-California disposition, but it comes along with a structural underpinning that reminds you: These vines work hard to deliver their bounty.
Often, it is struggle that reveals true character.
San Diego County
A noble site will shine. It will find a way. Vines with the strongest life-force will survive. Even fire and disease cannot take them. These 38-year-old Carignan plantings, rooted in granitic soils at the base of Palomar Mountain, are survivors. The fruit they bear, and the wine it makes, have a powerful story. It is worth the time to get to know; to come away with a new understanding of San Diego.
While we learned to love wine and make it in Santa Barbara, we are bound to San Diego. We've lived here since the 1990s. Our children were born here. When we got to know the good Vesper Vineyards folks and found good wine could come from here, too, we were honored to be invited to work with this vineyard in 2012 and onward. It has proven its mettle in spades.