Wednesday, November 27, 2019
Htiching the SB Wine Wagon to Some Amazing Pioneers
I'm going to try to tell the story of an event in a single bottle. Last Saturday (11/23) was the Third Annual Heritage Tasting held by the Pioneers of Santa Barbara County, a fantastically temperate fall day at Pico in Los Alamos. (Quick digression--do you want Chef Drew's praline bacon with some Lindquist syrah? Well, do you want the taste equivalent of a millionaire dollar lotto card on your tongue?) And sure, the winemaking starpower was there, with Richard Sanford and Fred Brander and Karen Steinwachs and Doug Margerum, for instance, along one row of tables so tight they couldn't swing a wine bottle without conking one of their compatriots.
And that's just the start of all the goodness that Morgan Clendenen, organizer, cheerleader, wrangler, planner, rogue viral video content maker, promoter, brought together for this spectacular shindig to remind us of them that got us here. You can go read the list at the website, but we're talking back in the days before our AVAs were subdividing like mops for Mickey Mouse to fight.
What anyone there most learned, however, is pioneers don't just get encased in amber. Nope, this group just keeps pioneering--messing with hops in their Sauv Blanc, making one of the first Amaros in the U.S., figuring out how to tame, but only enough, the wildness of an extreme vineyard site like Radian.
That pioneering knows enough, though, not to forget. (Wise winemakers watch paralleling the folly of the tyro creative writer who ignorantly declares, "I don't need to read what's come before--I am new!") So look above at what Frank Ostini and Gray Hartley are doing now--a Chenin Blanc. Frank is quick to point across the tasting at Louis Lucas pouring his own Lucas & Lewellen Wines, saying he was smart enough to hang on to some 40 year old Chenin vines amidst the more profitable chardonnay (because, you know, give the people what they white want). And now Hitching Post is making Forerunner (a lovely forwards and backwards cap-tipping name, no?), a snappy blast of pear, persimmon and a zip of lime zest. Pioneering indeed.