Monthly Archive for January, 2012


Michelle and David Lafond (siblings) have just returned from a meeting with our National Representative, Winesellers. They made a presentation to all the Winesellers representatives who come from different parts of the country. They happened to arrive just before the first, or one of the first, snowstorms of the year and were enchanted, not only by the snow, but Chicago as well.

Winesellers has represented us since the mid 80s, it has been a very fruitful relationship. That is David in what does not look like an all too serious storm.
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Santa Barbara Winery Wine Club Pick-up (wine) Party Saturday, January 21

These events have become very popular. We had over 250 who responded that they wished to attend. It is an opportunity to sample some of our newer releases as well as some excellent cheese selected by Suzanne. It was a very windy day coming after a somewhat inadequate rainstorm. We are hoping for more rain but it is getting late in the season.

Rain in the vineyard leaches out the salts that may have built up during the summer. last year at this time we had had a good deal of rain even to the point of overflowing the river bank and causing some inundation which dumped debris on the parts of the vineyard but caused no harm.
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January in the Vineyard

Nothing much happens in December and January. The vines are dormant and it is still a little too early to begin pruning. Workers, however, are going through the field and tying the canes from new vines, or replacement vines, to the wire before pruning begins.

We use a machine that cuts the cane about 12 inches above the wire – you can see this in the image taken last year. This type of vine training is called the cordon system. Cordon in French refers to a string so, I assume, it refers to the fact that it is stretched out on the wire – but there could be a more subtle explanation.

After the machine has done its job workers come in and cut the remaining cane down to two buds. These are called spurs and this is where the fruit grows. There are, of course, many other training systems but this one not only allows us to prune by machine but also allows us to control where the fruit will grow – in this case an area extending 2 feet above the wire.
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A Very Large Bottle

This is the largest bottle we have. 18 liters, the equivalent of two cases, and approximately 80 pounds. Not a convenient easy to pour bottle – we still have not determined the best way of doing that. I think it is only the second time that we have filled a bottle this large.

The wine is our 2000 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon bottled in 2002 and aged in our climate controlled cellar. The price is 1000. and it includes the stand which should make pouring easier. The bottle next to it is a mere 5 liters.
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A Small Wedding

This was a very small wedding on Saturday, New Years Eve, a tradition in the family and a sure-fire anniversary reminder. The day was gorgeous with temperatures reaching the low 80s. The only thing missing are green vines but in a way it is also symbolic of a new beginning.
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Santa Barbara Winery 2008 Joughin Vineyard Lagrein

America’s fascination with pairing fine wine and the classic American hamburger spiked dramatically after the Oscar nomination of the independent film Sideways, which tantalized the curiosity of a new strata of American wine enthusiast. At the end of the film, the pitiful anti-hero protagonist Miles scarfs a cheeseburger under the florescent lighting of a greasy fast food joint and washes it down with his prize-possession Château Cheval Blanc, a world-class Bordeaux red which he keeps hidden under the table and drinks from a styrofoam cup.

This scene is allegedly the inspiration behind such sensational gimmicks as the Six Thousand Dollar Burger at the Palms Casino of Las Vegas, which paired the Six Dollar Burger from Carl’s Jr. with a vintage bottle of another world-class red from Bordeaux, Château Petrus. (Ironically, Cheval Blanc and Petrus are both composed mostly of Merlot, a grape which Miles shuns in an infamous scene earlier in the film causing devastating real-world effects on California’s Merlot market).

That said, I myself have long awaited an opportunity to pair a great wine with a great burger. The occasion befell me last night in the form of Santa Barbara Winery’s 2008 Joughin Vineyard Lagrein and the Classic Grilled Angus Burger of the Plow & Angel at the San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito. And the two complimented each other harmoniously.

Lagrein is a little known grape from Bolzano in the Alto Adige region of northeastern Italy. The earliest written records of Lagrein come from the Muri Benedictine monastery near Bolzano and date back to the 1600’s. Lagrein is believed to have originated in the Lagarina Valley just south of Bolzano between Lago di Garda and Trento.

Today in Italy there are only about 800 acres of Lagrein, nearly all of which are planted in Bolzano’s growing region. Outside of Italy Lagrein is increasing in popularity though New World producers are scarce.

I often refer to Lagrein as Merlot’s big brother and it remains firmly seated as my absolute favorite under the roof at Santa Barbara Winery. Ounce upon a time Lagrein was culpable of producing heavy, rugged, so harshly tannic reds that they required ages in the bottle before they were approachable (more like Merlot on steroids).

With a new winemaking trend toward shorter maceration periods and the use of barriques (Bordeaux style barrels) for aging, Lagrein now produces a big, full-bodied, voluptuous red wine, so dark you can’t even see through it, with soft velvety tannins and a long savory finish that make it a supreme companion for juicy, grilled angus. Our 2008 vintage paired perfectly with my burger as it did with the Valrhona Guanaja chocolate cake I had for dessert. Mm mm, good.

Carlos Mascherin, Santa Barbara Winery
Too order wine:  Santa Barbara Winery
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