Research Trip to Central Coast CA – Day 2 Lompoc Wine Ghetto

5 Sep

The “Wine Ghetto” is essentially an industrial park where a bunch of wineries are located, sharing expertise and keeping costs down. Day 2 was devoted to exploring the Wine Ghetto, and it was a lot of fun. We walked to the Ghetto from our hotel, seeing a “sculpture park” with signs pointing the way (see pic). Brochures have maps and descriptions of the wineries. The second picture shows one of the open areas between the winery “suites”.

Currently there are 13 wineries, and we went to 9 of them….don’t worry, I’m not going into great detail on them all. The first was Zotovich Cellars, the only one that opens at 10 am (rather than 11), which is probably intended since it’s fairly new and not well known. When we mentioned going to Fiddlehead later, he said to say hello to his “Dad, who looks just like me, only older”. This is an example of how inter-related the wineries are….with many people having worked at many wineries, or used the same consultants, or just being friends.


Flying Goat was next….we like the graphics and two of the Pinot Noirs were astounding…Kate Griffith, their Chief Philosopher, has already emailed us that we’ll be able to get them in at Pairings. Next was Fiddlehead Cellars…re-tasting their Happy Canyon Sauvignon Blanc and Seven Twenty Eight pinot noir reminded us why we have them at Pairings. Their rose of Pinot Noir is excellent, and they make a Pinot Noir with grapes from Oregon that was our favorite.


Taste of Sta. Rita Hills actually is more of a wine store for wineries that don’t have tasting rooms. The pourer is from Italy, and makes a couple wines himself, using varietals typical of Northern Italy. He claims the weather in this area is the same as N. Italy, so the same wines can be made. That’s certainly true technically, but while some of the Italian varietal wines in the area have a nice taste, they rarely are reminiscent of Italy, although his white we tasted was close.


The Piedrasassi and New Vineland tasting room was beautifully arranged and we got to taste one wine from Piedrasassi and several from New Vineland while tasting Bellwether Farms San Andreas Sheep’s milk cheese (which was delicious and we’ll look into getting some for the store), and Framani Nostrano salami, which Lori recognized before tasting it just by the look of it.  These were beautifully arranged on a dish made from the root stock of a grapevine.


We tasted at Palmina, which is devoted to Italian varietals. The tasting room is nice, and the wines both good and interesting….but as in many instances, the price is high so that the value isn’t there for us. Samsara is owned by Chad Melville, the son of the owner of the Melville Winery. Dad said sure, you can make wine, but not here, so Chad went off on his own. The Syrah is exceptional. Ampelos is organic and biodynamic, and they use Greek symbol to label their wines…..e.g. Rho and Lambda pinot noirs.


We finished up with Longoria, which was a good way to end the day. Their Pinot Noirs are fabulous. Longoria is the original winery in this area, and has been influential ever since. We were told that virtually all the wineries around here have consulted with Longoria at one time or another. At dinner last night and later tonight, the wine recommendations have been Longoria Pinot Noirs. Strangely, there’s no distribution in MA….we’ll have to see if that can be changed.


Dinner was at Restaurant 4300 at a nearby country club. Sonseeah Gil, the owner/chef, founded the restaurant we went to last night (Sissy’s), sold it to become a ski bum, and then came back to her love – food and wine. She’s been in the area a long time, is quite knowledgeable and connected to the wine trade. She offered to set us up at a couple small wineries with exceptional wine, which we’ll go to later today….fun.


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