Santa Barbara Sipping with Baehner Fournier Vineyards, Imagine Wine, and Brewer-Clifton Wine

Hello Friends,

I was recently tapped to participate in the Santa Barbara County Vintner’s Association first-ever virtual #winechat event. The tasting featured six relatively small-production and pleasing white wines that were all ripe for summertime sipping and perfect companions to a wide variety of (warm-weather) foods. Santa Barbara is located in southern California; approximately 90 miles north of Los Angeles, and is an overall cool-climate wine growing appellation with some warmer areas further inland.

 Having a Splash of Imagine Viognier

The Santa Barbara wine region boasts four AVA’s (Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, Sta. Rita Hills and Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara), over 100 wineries, and more than 20K acres of vine plantings. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah lead the way in plantings, but according to specs sent over by the Santa Barbara County Vintner’s Association, over 65 grape varieties are planted to this diversified wine growing appellation. In my experience with the region’s wines -- both white and red, I have usually found an appealing (and food-friendly) built-in brightness and elegance. I presume this defining characteristic is largely influenced by the appellation's cool-climate which serves to preserve the natural acidity and freshness in the berries. Below are three of the six wines I had an opportunity to sample accompanied by my tasting notes and a picture I snapped of each bottle. Part II of this delightful tasting will be posted next week. Variety, so they say, is the spice of life; so, keep an open mind and an open palate and enjoy the experience. Drink well my friends!

Baehner Fournier Vineyards 2012 Sauvignon Blanc

1) Baehner Fournier Vineyards 2012 Sauvignon Blanc (SRP $20): This is a small family-owned winery in the Santa Ynez Valley that specializes in estate-grown Bordeaux-styled wines. This Sauvignon Blanc was sourced from the Vogelzang Vineyard in Santa Barbara’s Happy Canyon appellation (the region’s furthest inland wine growing area and the warmest). It’s fresh and snappy with crisp acidity framing vibrant melon, lemongrass, shy herbal notes, and pink grapefruit aromas/flavors with a welcomed brightness that persists throughout. This is summertime in a bottle with nice texture and a clean, medium-length finish. I enjoyed it by itself and with a plate of bacon-wrapped sea scallops. (Other info: ABV 13.5%, aged 6 months in neutral French oak with occasional lees stirring, natural cork enclosure). Click here to find this wine.

Imagine Wine 2010 Viognier

2) Imagine Wine and Art Gallery 2010 Pearl Paradise Mountain Viognier (SRP $24): This wine is fresh and focused with delicate stone fruit, honeysuckle, and floral aromas that are accented with fennel seeds and underlying muted dried herbal components. Round and fleshy, the wine carries a nice weight with balanced acidity and a pleasant medium-length finish. Approximately 50% of this wine was placed in new French oak barrels for 10 to 12 weeks. The oak comes through more so in the texture and mouth-feel than the wine’s aromas and flavors. The attractive and eye-catching artwork is a 1940’s painting by Hollywood artist, Geza Kendel. Less than 90 cases of this wine were produced. (Other info: ABV 14.3%, full malolactic fermentation, cork enclosure). Click here to find this wine.

Brewer-Clifton Gnesa Sta. Rita Hills 2010 Chardonnay

3) Brewer-Clifton Gnesa Sta. Rita Hills 2010 Chardonnay (SRP $48): Brewer-Clifton is a small producer in Santa Barbara’s Santa Rita Hills that specializes in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. This Chardonnay is expressive, pure, and moderately complex, showing an inviting array of citrus fruit aromas and flavors alongside honeydew and lemon peel with appealing (underlying) mineral notes and a touch of sea salt. While showing some richness in the mouth, the texture is racy with a bright, zesty acidity and a nice mouth-watering, tangy finish. Overall, this was a pleasing wine with good depth of flavor and length that my guests and I enjoyed. Approximately 290 cases of this wine were produced. (Other info: ABV 14.2%, natural cork enclosure). Click here to find this wine.

Have a question about this post? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter. Stay tuned ...more to come. Happy Sipping, my friends! Disclosure: These wines were provided for an event. Thoughts are my own.

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