02 Jun Syrah in Santa Barbara County
Syrah…it’s a fairly well known grape. It is the “S” in GSM the great Rhone Blend. It can also be masterful at subtle changes and some not so subtle. The 2016 Wine Seminar at the Vintners Spring Weekend was a time to dive into the varied sides of Syrah with a panel of owners, winemakers and growers in the Santa Barbara Region. Wendy Thies Sell did a masterful job moderating as she and the winemakers guided us through the variations on the wines of this grape varietal.
Peter Stolpman, Managing Partner at Stolpman Vineyards.
Peter is the son of Tom Stolpman, who sat in the crowd for this seminar. The Stolpman Vineyard is located in Ballard Canyon and they have a tasting room in Los Olivos. They are lucky enough to have famed Vineyard….Ruben and Sashi Moorman as their winemaker.
Michael Larner, Owner & Winemaker at Larner Vineyard and Winery
Chris Hammell, Vineyard Manager at Bien Nacido Vineyards
Larry Schaffer, Owner & Winemaker at tercero wines
Scott Sampler, Proprietor & Winemaker at the Central Coast Group Project
Mark Horvath, Owner & Winemaker at Crawford Family Wines
Chad Melville, Owner & Winegrower at SAMsARA and Melville
With the panel before us and 8 glasses of Syrah from around the region, we dug in.
Ballard Canyon Syrahs
Ballard Canyon AVA has self identified as Syrah Territory. Peter Stolpman speaks of the 18 varieties of grapes they tested. “Syrah chose us” he says. This variety grows and expresses extremely well here, so well that –% of the vineyards here are planted in Syrah. This AVA has 17 Vineyards and 8 Grower/Producers.
We sampled the 2013 Originals Syrah from Stolpman Vineyards and the 2011 Estate Syrah from Larner Vineyard and Winery
Santa Maria Syrahs
When you think Santa Maria and in particular Bien Nacido, you probably think Pinot Noir. Don’t tell, but Chris Hammell says that their winemaker believes Syrah to be the finest grape they grow there.
Chris brought the 2012 Bien Nacido Syrah as well as a 2011 Qupe Bien Nacido Vineyard Syrah.
Los Alamos Valley Syrahs
While not yet an AVA, the Los Alamos Valley is pumping out some beautiful fruit. Both of the Syrahs we tasted came from White Hawk Vineyard which is on the east side of the Los Alamos Valley in Cat Canyon.
Larry Schaffer from tercero wines brought his 2011 White Hawk Vineyard Syrah and Scott Sampler of the Central Coast Group Project brought his 2012 “Names” White Hawk Vineyard Syrah.
Sta. Rita Hills Syrahs?
So probably even more than Santa Maria, Sta. Rita Hills is Pinot Noir and Chardonnay country. But yes, Syrah is grown here also and expresses itself in a very elegant way.
Mark Horvath of Crawford Family Wines had a 2014 Zotovich Syrah. Zotovich is in the unsexy center section of the Sta. Rita Hills, the flat part without any hills. Nonetheless the fruit from this vineyard is consistent and beautiful. Chad Melville brought his 2012 SAMsARA Melville Syrah grown at the Melville Vineyard.
We will be posting the entire Seminar in Episodes. Watch for the first with the Introduction with Moderator Wendy Thies Sell and the conversation with Peter Stolpman.