“East to West” Revisted:" The vast Santa Ynez Valley appellation encompasses two smaller AVAs: Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara to the east, and the Sta. Rita Hills to the west. At the east end, various Bordeaux grapes thrive in the heat; on the west end, it’s all about pinot noir and chardonnay, which flourish in the fog. The grenache, mourvedre and syrah grapes harvested from Vogelzang Vineyard last September now comprise the 2013 Rosé, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara.
Dragonette's owner/winemakers released the wine just last week, said Brandon Sparks-Gillis, co-owner with his wife, Michelle. Brothers Steve and John Dragonette and their wives, Jen Hart and Mitchi Dragonette, respectively, round out the team of owners.
The three couples collaborate to carry out all of the winemaking, and most of the marketing and sales of the winery, based in Buellton.
"This wine is a southern French inspired blend of grenache and mourvedre, specially farmed for rosé at the Vogelzang Vineyard," according to www.dragonettecellars.com.
"We harvest these blocks (over) several cool night and early-morning picks, and bring them straight to the winery, where they are gently whole-cluster pressed over a long, slow press cycle to provide just the right amount of skin contact, while gently extracting maximum flavors. We added five percent syrah, which had been bled off the syrah fermenters, for additional complexity and body."
At 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 26, Brandon Sparks-Gillis, Steve Dragonette, Jen Hart, Jessica Gasca (national sales director) and small crew of friends starting bottling several new releases, this rosé among them.
I stood in the shadows of the winery, watching and listening to the mesmerizing "clink-clink" of empty glass as Sparks-Gillis stacked case after case of bottles onto the belt. At the end of the bottling line, Gasca labeled and date stamped each full case.
Before breaking for lunch, they'd finished bottling the approximately 950 cases of the new Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara Rosé. That's a LOT of rosé ...
The crew also bottled about 300 cases of the 2012 Vogelzang Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc; 60 cases of Dragonette's second rosé — the 2013 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir — and two of the 2012 pinot noirs — roughly 425 cases from Fiddlestix Vineyard, and 175 cases of the Sta. Rita Hills, "Black Label," Steve Dragonette told me.
Last in the "East to West" series will be a trip back to Lindley Wines when Frankie and Jake bottle some of their new releases.