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  Zotovich pulls a sample of fermenting grenache that will soon be bottled as the 2014 Dreamcôte Wine Co. rose

On Oct. 24, when I sampled it, straight out of a bin and still fermenting, the 2014 Dreamcôte Wine Co. grenache rosé juice already radiated passion-fruit freshness packed into a bright magenta hue.

Winemaker Brittany Tanquary Zotovich, co-owner with Anna Clifford of the Buellton-based label, voiced satisfaction with the young wine, calling it “spring like and floral.”

The two produced it saignée style, removing — or “bleeding” — some of the juice from the must of the grenache grapes after a bout of skin contact.

Grenache from a Santa Ynez Valley vineyard

Earlier in October, I joined Clifford and Zotovich for a second harvest round, this time for grenache — destined to become this very rosé.

My first harvest ride-a-long visit had been to McGinley Vineyard for my first story about the two

This Oct. 10 grenache pick would be their first from this small site, located on Baseline Avenue just east of Ballard.

The vineyard’s owners had approached managers at Terravant Wine Company, where Clifford works as a winemaker and Zotovich as director of sales/winery accounts, for consulting help.

Zotovich, foreground, and Clifford, pick grenache from a vineyard near Ballard on the morning of Oct. 10.

“Brit and I worked with the owners this year to get the vineyard where we want it,” Clifford said.

That work included performing two green drops, a crop thinning maneuver used to weed out unripe (green) berries as cluster ripening progresses.

In October, the McGinley Vineyard syrah grapes that I observed the two harvesting on Aug. 29 were about one-third of their way to becoming Dreamcôte’s 2014 Carbonic Syrah and the juice was displaying “pretty beautiful acid,” Zotovich said.

Carbonic maceration occurs when whole (not crushed) berry clusters are fermented in a sealed vessel that’s been filled with carbon dioxide. Lacking oxygen, the whole grapes start intracellular fermentation, producing alcohol.

Clifford and Zotovich founded Dreamcôte in 2012. On the website is what I believe to be the perfect description of their company: “A secret society of flavor crazed, dynamic and tenacious individuals that give this project life.”

After many months of research and tasting, Clifford and Zotovich this year made the leap into cider production. Hard ciders are gaining popularity with wine and beer consumers, especially those who favor something “a little bubbly” now and then.

My introduction to ciders came courtesy of these two. On an August evening, with a meal of bread, cheese and fresh salads prepared by Zotovich, we shared various ciders from a couple of local producers.

I was intrigued: Both the “fizz factor” and the ABV are low (usually less than 8 percent), but there’s nothing timid about a well-made cider.

Under Dreamcote, the two will produce two ciders: “one dry, and one off dry,” said Zotovich.

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On Nov. 11, while the bulk of the cider was fermenting away in a 300-gallon tank back at Terravant, Clifford and Zotovich had me meet them at Lompoc’s Zotovich Cellars.

There, they had divided several gallons of cider into “yeast trials” in roughly a dozen sample jars, topped with loosened lids to prevent explosion — just in case a sample jar suffered excessive carbonation. Each jar contained a different yeast.

Unscrewing lids and sniffing the jars’ contents, Clifford and Zotovich described aromas that ranged from “apple cider to flat allspice, from yeast to lemon to beef broth, and from chicken all the way to sweet and vinegar.” It was a start.

Their goal, for optimal cider: “We want as little ‘fizzy’ as possible,” Zotovich explained. The finished cider will be bottled unfined and unfiltered, since “people ‘get’ that a cloudy appearance" is a hallmark of ciders.

Both Dreamcôte’s 2014 Carbonic Syrah from McGinley Vineyard and the 2014 Grenache Rosé are targeted for release on Feb. 21, Zotovich told me this week.

The cider release date is “more fluid,” with hand bottling scheduled for sometime in March, and a picnic targeted for later that month or early in April, depending on weather conditions.

Brit Zotovich, left, and Anna Clifford discuss Dreamcôte Wine Co. with two writers at a private tasting in December.

Late last year, Clifford and Zotovich released two 2013 vintages: Dreamcôte’s 2013 “Birdfish” Malvasia Bianca and the 2013 “Goat Without a Rope” red blend.

The two poured those wines and others at a private tasting Dec. 16 in Lompoc that was geared toward small producers.

Of the bright and lively Malvasia Bianca, sourced from Lucas & Lewellen Vineyard, Zotovich said: “People are going crazy for it at the tasting room.”

Copyright Central Coast Wine Press for centralcoastwinepress.com