Storm Crosses Two Continents: Winemaker Brothers to Headline Foodie Events in Santa Barbara

by Gabe Saglie, Senior Editor, Travelzoo
photos by Bob Dickey,
story published in the Santa Barbara News-Press on 2/26/15

Winemaking, it turns out, runs in the Storm family.

“He started making wine in South Africa even before I did,” says Ernst Storm of his older brother, Hannes.  “We then worked together, before I came to experience harvest here in Santa Barbara.”

The Storm Brothers: Ernst, left, and Hannes (courtesy photo)
At 35, and less than a decade after his move across the hemispheres, Ernst has already become one of the rising stars in the Santa Barbara wine scene.  

Ernst Storm makes about 2000 cases of wine a year
He launched his boutique label, Storm Wines, in 2006 with a straightforward idea: to produce balanced, site-specific wines.  Today, he produces 2000 cases annually of pinot noir and sauvignon blanc that are highly reviewed and highly sought-after.  He worked as assistant winemaker at Curtis Winery for many years and launched Notary Public, a joint effort with sommelier and former Les Marchands co-owner Eric Railsback, last year.

All the while, Hannes, 38, honed his own viticultural skills some 10,000 miles away, making wines for 13 vintages for Hamilton Russell, one of South Africa’s premier producers.  He went solo and launched Storm Wines South Africa three years ago, and production has grown to 800 annual cases since.  Hannes’ inaugural pinot noirs are elegant, terroir-driven wines from South Africa’s celebrated Hemel-en-Aarde Valley.

Two brothers, two continents, but “a very similar philosophy,” Ernst tells me during a recent conversation.  “We are both out to make wines with personalities that really showcase the place where they’re from."

Ernst figures the winemaking seed was actually planted in both brothers when they were young, in their native South Africa.  More than 15 years separated the Storm boys from their two older sisters, and when one of them married a farmer, “we would spend all our holidays on the farm.  It was all about being outside, being in nature, and finding ways to be creative.”

The public will get two rare chances next week to try wines from both Storm brothers side by side.  On Wednesday, March 5th at 6pm, they join the culinary team at LesMarchands Wine Bar & Merchant, in downtown Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone, for a food-and-wine pairing event.  Taste wines for $30 and add $17 to pair with Chef Weston Richards’ Bobotie (a meat pie influenced by South Africa’s early Dutch and Malaysian settles).  First come, first served.  Call 805-284-0380.
On Thursday, March 6th, the Storm boys will take over the dining room at the AAA 4-Diamond Ballard Inn on Thursday, March 6th at 6pm.  A sauvignon blanc and two pinots from Ernst, as well as two pinot noirs and a late harvest dessert wine from Hannes, will match a six-course meal prepared by owner/chef Budi Kazali.  Ernst brainstormed with Chef Kazali for three hours recently to explore pairings.  The menu is being finalized but is sure to feature at least a few South African-inspired ingredients, Ernst tells me, and, in true Kazali style, totally fresh and in-season Santa Barbara County ingredients.  Seating, priced at $125, is extremely limited.  Call 800-638-2466. 

For more information on Storm Wines, visit

For information on Storm Wines South Africa, go to


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