Wines with Legs: Drinking Whites After Labor Day

by Gabe Saglie, Senior Editor, Travelzoo
story published in the Santa Barbara News-Press on 9/8/16

Fashionistas might thumb their noses at my proclivity for wearing white after Labor Day.  But no matter.  My bleach white slacks are pressed and ready for the weekend!

For reasons driven more by the seasons than style sticklers, drinking white loses favor after Labor Day, too.  As the weather cools, the foods we eat get heartier and red wines simply fit the dinner bill better.  But not so fast.  Santa Barbara’s weather will stay idyllic for weeks to come.  And it produces whites with enough character to challenge any trend.

The whites that follow are all made by three of our area’s premier female winemakers.  They’ll be joining me on stage, actually, on October 8th, when I lead a seminar titled, “Women in Wine in Santa Barbara County.”  Part of Santa Barbara Vintners’ Celebration of Harvest weekend, this powerhouse tasting and conversation will take place from 10am to 11:30am at Hotel Corque in Solvang.  Tickets are limited and cost just $35, available through Santa Barbara Vintners. The ladies mentioned below will be joined by Sanford assistant winemaker Laura Roach, Casa Dumetz winemaker Sonja Magdevski and Runway Vineyards’ Erika Maldonado.  Don’t miss it!

Kita'sTara Gomez (photo by Jeremy Ball)
Fiddlehead Cellars Gruner Veltliner 2014, Sta. Rita Hills ($28): The inaugural release of this dry, clean, vibrant wine by Kathy Joseph is lovely.  Youthful and brisk, it also delivers a supple mouth feel, flavors of orange zest and flowers, and a lengthy finish.  Joseph tends to about three acres of gruner veltliner on her Fiddlestix Vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills.  One component was fermented in stainless steel tanks, the other in neutral French oak barrel, before being blended for bottling. 
Kita Wines T’AYA, Camp 4 Vineyard ($22): Tara Gomez’s star is rising quickly among Santa Barbara winemakers.  A member of the Chumash, she sources her grapes almost exclusively from the tribe’s Camp 4 Vineyard in the newly minted Los Olivos District AVA, including the marsanne, roussanne and grenache blanc that are blended together for this bracing wine.  Fresh minerality enhances white stone fruit flavors and spicy notes.  T’AYA means “abalone shell” in the tribe’s native Samala language. 

Cambria Benchbreak Chardonnay 2014, Santa Maria Valley ($22): Denise Shurtleff has spent nearly two decades on the Cambria estate, making her intimately familiar with the fruit that flourishes there.  That includes the 15 different blocks of chardonnay fruit that were farmed individually and blended to make this fruit-forward wine.  Citrus and pineapple flavors race across the palate and lead to a clean, refreshing finish.


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