Norm Yost’s pygmy goats were more than mere pets. His affinity for the precocious pair inspired a very personal project in the year 2000 – his own wine label, Flying Goat Cellars. Santa Barbara County’s 2019 wine grape harvest, which is now well underway, means Flying Goat is turning 20.
This past weekend, Flying Goat Cellars threw a Harvest Lunch and Barrel Tasting at their Lompoc winery. Guest perks included tasting pre-release wines and blending their own cuvée. Yost hosted alongside his business partner Kathleen Griffith; the pair is happily married and will celebrate their 10th anniversary on New Year’s Day.
|Norm Yost (credit: Bob Dickey)|
Yost’s been making wine for more than 40 years, with a resumé that features Napa Valley, Sonoma’s Russian River Valley and Oregon’s Willamette Valley. I got to know him during his first few years as a Santa Barbara wine grower, including a stint as winemaker at Foley Estates. The launch of Flying Goat, though, solidified his role as a top-tier producer, focusing on delicious vineyard-specific pinot noir wines from the coveted Sta, Rita Hills and Santa Maria Valley growing regions.
The launch of his Goat Bubbles portfolio was a pioneering move in 2011. What could be called the first serious sparkling wine program in Santa Barbara County has exploded into a field of dozens of bubbly producers today. However, Yost’s long-term commitment to sparkling wine, which now includes five unique bottlings every year, was indeed visionary.
“Emulation is always the best form of flattery,” he told me recently. “It’s actually exciting to see, since we’re now utilizing these wonderful Santa Barbara County grapes in another form."
|Images from Flying Goat's first pick of the 2019 harvest (credit: Makena Blanco)|
Flying Goat’s 20th harvest began on August 30th, with a pick of more than four tons of pinot noir and chardonnay that will become 2019 Goat Bubbles, out to the public in about three years. The very early harvest preserves acidity in the grapes – that’ll translate to brightness and pop – and keeps sugars – and subsequently, alcohol – low.
Find out more at Flying Goat's newly redesigned website: flyinggoatcellars.com.