Family owned Zaca Mesa Winery has been a pioneer in Santa Barbara’s wine country since 1973. After originally planting Bordeaux and Burgundian varietals, it didn’t take long to realize that the geology and terroir was best suited to Rhone varietals. At the start of the 90’s Zaca Mesa transitioned to growing almost 100% Rhone varietals (planting the first Syrah in the Central Coast in 1978). The last non Rhone Varietal, Chardonnay, was pulled at the end of the 2013 harvest.
Following in the footsteps of Zaca Mesa’s many trend setting winemakers, Kristin Bryden, Zaca’s current innovative winemaker, began a very special project to pay tribute to the original Zaca Mesa varietals: The Homage Collection. Grapes are sourced from the area’s finest vineyards to produce hand crafted wines that were originally grown on the Zaca Mesa Estate. I had the pleasure of doing a virtual tasting with Garrett Black on the newest addition to the Homage series, a 2018 Chardonnay, sourced from Zotovich Vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills.
The Chardonnay was exquisite. As we were sipping, we first chatted about the characteristics of the wine, which had a fresh, aromatic nose, with scents of stone fruit and an enticing earthiness. The flavors were seductive (and especially refreshing, sipping it outside in 90 degree heat), with layers that were intertwined, giving an earthy, lemon zest lingering finish. Aged 9 months in neutral oak, the wine is an expression of this cooler climate special terroir. Garrett explained that with the Homage series, there is no set formula. Wines are tasted and aged as necessary, and released when “they are right.” This particular wine was released just this past February. Kristin wants to “keep things interesting” with the Homage series, and is always looking at different vineyards to source these “original” varietals from.
As we enjoyed this elegant wine together online, Garrett spoke of how making wine education enjoyable was one of his and Zaca Mesa’s goals. He has found social media a useful tool to introduce, and educate wine lovers to the many aspects of wine.
The website is kept current, detailing free online sessions that are being offered. Garrett conducts these INSTAGRAM sessions twice weekly at 5:00pm: WEDNESDAYS are more wine specific, focusing on a particular varietal. SATURDAYS have more of a concentration on education, and may include vineyard and winery tours. Live tastings are also held on YouTube following the original broadcast. To enhance your live on-line experience, wines may be ordered from the winery, so you can sip along while enjoying the live, virtual event.
You will find Garrett to be a welcoming host, sipping in the comfort of your yard or home, joining Garret in the vineyard, winery or his own backyard. Check the website for updated events and tastings. Cheers.