Monthly Archive for January, 2011

Wine and Chocolate at Santa Barbara Winery

For Jessica Foster, making truffles is an expressive epicurean art. With her diverse palate of Belgian chocolates, she blends exotic teas, herbs and spices, infusing her confections to create intriguing flavors like dark chocolate chile and milk chocolate star anise-thyme. Her inspiration surrounds her and by means of this decadent medium, she creates sumptuous chocolate pieces, sculpting each one lovingly by hand.

Many of her exotic blends, however, have been inspired by Jessica’s travels abroad. She has a talent for capturing the essence of a place, putting the sensual aromas and soul-stirring flavors in a swirl of chocolate cream. While living and studying in Alicante, Spain, she tasted piquant curries and chiles, and savored the aromas of orange blossoms and saffron. Today, each of these essential flavors can be seen as inspiration for one of her deeply satisfying chocolate truffles.
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Pruning – Friday January 28, 2011

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We are almost finished pruning our new Pinot Noir block at Burning Creek. The image is of our foreman Enrique tying one of the vine canes which will form the ‘cordon’. There are cordons on both sides of the vine and from these will grow the fruit bearing canes later this year.

Burning Creek was planted 2 years ago. This is the first year we will have grapes. We have 8 different clones of Pinot Noir and at least 2 are new to us. The clones are planted in blocks and the size of the block is determined by the size of fermenters we have. The clones are kept separate in the winery until they are blended or bottled as individual clones.

The other photo is of a mature Pinot Noir vine before pruning. We are anxiously awaiting delivery of our pre-pruning machine, mounted on one of our tractors, which will clear the canes leaving enough for the pruners to fine-tune the vine. The hardest part of pruning is removing this forest of canes that are tangled together and tied to the guide wires. Although the days have been warm the nights are sufficiently cool to keep the vines dormant – at least for now.

Open House Saturday January 15 at Lafond Winery and Vineyards

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The Pink Jeep

Andy Joughin may have retired but his old pink jeep (original color) hasn’t. David has bought this wonderful 1960 specimen from Andy, made it run (barely) and has high hopes of improving its performance.

Despite spending the last 25 years out in the open, immobile, it has not completely rusted out and once the gas tank has been cleaned out, its main feature, consisting mostly of jerky stops and starts, may be fixed. The seats are fine if you don’t mind sitting on raw springs and the cracked windshield is not a problem if you lay it flat. Ideal for the vineyard.

The color is not one you find on many jeeps today. In the late 50s or early 60s there was a Disney movie in which there were some very cute pink jeeps which apparently created a demand. David plans on painting it a different color. Should he keep the original color? – let us know.

Images from Santa Barbara Winery Wine Club Member Pick-up Party – Saturday January 15

If you attended you may have seen our photographer Carlos. Carlos works part-time in the Tasting Room, is an artist, professional photographer and more.
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Organic Horse Care

David, Kim and Enrique are keeping 3 horses at the vineyard. There is a small enclosed corral where the horses live and then there is another larger corral of several acres where they are allowed to roam freely. This corral is on a steep un-plantable hillside full of sage brush and other native plants and grasses.

Under  ‘Natural Horse Care’ horses are – first, treated as herd animals and given the companionship of other horses. Second, they are allowed to eat natural grasses which are further supplemented with other exotic high altitude grasses, no legumes, no sugar or treats and especially no shoes. They revert, or so it seems, to their natural feral state as prairie ponies and seem very pleased about it.

The Santa Ynez River provides limitless trails including access into the Santa Rita Hills. It is truly a rider’s paradise.

Horses tied in front of the winery invariably attract attention. What is it that attracts us? I am not a horse person but they attract me – I don’t think horses are the brightest bulbs in the animal kingdom – but then we don’t value horses for their intelligence. Whatever it is, it is always a pleasure to see neighbors visiting the winery on horseback and tying up at one of our several tying posts.

If you are riding in the neighborhood drop by and see us.
Photos courtesy of David and Hayden.
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Vineyard Manager Andy Joughin is Retiring

Semi-retirement is probably more accurate. Heeding the pleas of his wife Jackie he will limit his management to his own vineyard. What we will miss most, I think, is the skepticism and experience which he always brought to his work, and which balanced nicely with our optimism and ignorance.

Farming in the Santa Ynez Valley for more than 40 years, half of that with our vineyard, makes you acutely aware of limits and possibilities.

At his home vineyard Andy produces several varieties, among them Primitivo and Lagrein. The wines from these grapes, not surprisingly and not by chance, are excellent examples of the marriage of variety, climate and soil.

We hope we can continue purchasing his grapes but he needs to brings us more pomegranates from his orchard.

Santa Barbara Winery Patio

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A group of Branch Managers meeting to discuss their common problems, what better venue?

Lafond Winery New Releases Open House, Saturday, January 15

Saturday January 15 – all day.
Sample our New Releases and along with our usual Gourmet Cheeses, Fresh Bread, Spreads and other delicacies we will have an Oil Tasting by il fustino.
Not to be missed!