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Vineyard Hike in Ballard Canyon

ballard canyon

I have been a member of Stolpman Vineyards wine club for some time now chiefly because they plant one of the best sites for growing Rhone varietals in the central coast, Ballard Canyon.

peter stolpman

For Thanksgiving I opened up some older vintages of Estate Syrah and Roussane from the late 2000s. It is a sommelier secret that the white varietal Roussane can age nicely, and Stolpman has a benchmark micro block. I enjoy central coast wines far more with bottle age, so much so that I usually don’t touch any of them for years.

ballard canyon

On a recent vineyard hike led by Peter Stolpman he alluded to the quality and management of his vineyard, saying in a good year, the winemaker just keeps an eye on the process. It helps when you have one of the best winemakers in California in Sashi Moorman. Peter’s site has a rare outcropping of limestone, and practices a great deal of dry farming as well as native yeast fermentation.

ballard canyon

Much of what’s produced in and around Santa Barbara isn’t really in line with what I prefer to drink (with some notable exceptions). Throughout the summer, the town of Los Olivos is inundated (though not quite as heavily as Napa Valley) with tourists looking for wines that require less interpretation, and invite inebriation. Still, it is one of my favorite places to visit.

stolpman hike

It is a warm region, and Rhone varietals do very well, yet I’m not as convinced about the  Italian varietal plantings. Overall many of the vineyards are still too young (in lieu of generation old wine production). I’m keeping an eye on the Central Coast – in the ensuing decades the aged vines, with deeper roots will create deeper expressions.

What I found most interesting is that Stolpman is experimenting will several types of vineyard propagation, including starting and entire block from one mother vine . Peter explained that this is a practice not widely observable in New World wine regions.

greek women

attractive Greek women pair perfectly with vines

I’m curious to see how the ongoing water shortage in California will affect vineyards in the Central Coast. Peter did mention that the drought is having an effect on the vines and everyone has a sort of ‘wait and see’ attitude. Until we run out of water in those parts, I’ll continue collecting Stolpman and the wines they produce in Ballard Canyon.