Larner Fete 2016

Larner fete, how it came to be

Larner Fete 2016

Larner Fete 2016


a celebration or festival

from the Old French feste and the Middle English feast.

The Larner Fete was just that, a celebration, a festival of wine. Gathered in the Barn at the Larner Vineyard were winemakers, people who trusted and sourced grapes from Larner Vineyard in Ballard Canyon.

Tables at the entrance to the yard held sparkling wine glasses for the guests and a stage was set for the band, that spilled over onto the back of a flatbed truck to provide enough space. You could smell the smoke from the grill and the portable wood fired pizza oven followed by the aroma of things set to make your mouth water. The buildings remind you of a small western town, with the barn looming in the center, filled with tables, each with it’s own winemaker, each serving a wine they created from grapes grown at this vineyard.

Larry Schaffer from tercero was there, and well as Sonja Madjevski of Casa Dumetz. Mac McPrice Meyers was in from Paso Robles. He has been buying fruit from Larner since around 2002 and makes his Homage a Stevan Larner to honor Michael’s father. Craig Jaffurs is old school and has been making wine since 1989. Mikael Sigouin is the Grenache King from Kaena, so you can guess what he was pouring. Scott Sampler of Central Coast Group Project is newer to the scene. He is part of the Bodegas this guy is pushing the boundries, seeing what grapes will do when you try extended (and I mean extended mascerations). And then of course…the Larner Wines.

Tasting these wines, with the winemakers, on the ground where the grapes was grown makes this a special day.  The place, the people… Michael Larner has a way of bringing people together and creating a community, and when you talk about the ground, earth, soil…well this has deep meaning to him.  His background is geology, he knows soils.  More than that, his parents bought this property and as such it holds place close in his heart.  Terroir…it’s the soil, the earth, the sense of place.  These winemakers source grapes from this place because of the quality and something else.  The sense of community of working together is just a part of this place.

Larner began as a vineyard and evolved into a winery.  They currently make their wine at the Buellton Bodegas, a co-op style space for winemaking.  Michael Larner found this space and envisioned it as a place where winemakers could have their own space and still share some of the more expensive equipment.  A couple of the winemakers here have utilize the Bodegas space, like Sonja with Casa Dumetz and Scott of the Central Coast Group Project.  Michael stays active with the Santa Barbara Vintners Association and was instrumental in the founding of the Ballard Canyon AVA.

The day is beautiful and then scent of the woodfired stove making pizza and the band warming up adds that bit of “festive air” that gets strangers talking.  The wine of course does that too.  The winemakers talk about their wines, their connection with Larner and they get you talking too and you find connections with the person next to you.

Michael Renken
[email protected]
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