Research Trip to Central Coast CA – Day 4 Stolpman and Buttonwood

7 Sep

Needing our exercise, Lori and I rented bikes and looped from Solvang to Santa Ynez to Los Olivos and back. Horses are everywhere, more so than wineries. Along the way we saw farm stands with blackberries, strawberries, and apples for sale (Lori bought a couple of Jonagold apples and ate one on the way back to Solvang).

We spent the afternoon on two long visits at Stolpman Vineyards and Buttonwood Farm Winery. We’d met Pete Stolpman at Pairings a few months ago when his distributor brought him around. We loved his wines and everything about Stolpman…from being organic, to treating their employees well, to their bringing in Syrah clones from France (Cote Rotie). Pete invited us to meet him at the Tasting Room (see pic) and to go out to the winery for

Stolpman Tasting Room

lunch. Their land is out on Ballard Canyon Road, very winding, hilly, isolated, and beautiful. On the way to the picnic area Pete stopped at a special section of the vineyard where the vines had been planted on a steep hillside very close together, yet arranged so that the grapes get sun through most of the day…this is an ancient approach used in areas of the Rhone Valley on steep hillsides. Some of the netting was down, so

Pete and Ray

Ray lent a hand with Pete to put it back.


At the picnic area we had two wonderful wines: a Rose of Sangiovese and a Roussanne/Viognier blend….delicious but not available in Mass (but we may get it at Pairings). We also had wonderful sandwiches from a restaurant in Los Alivos called Panini. It consisted of black olive tapenade, roasted red peppers, mozzarella, spinach, lettuce, and fresh tomato all stuffed in a fresh Panini. Stolpman only uses water for young vines and after 5 years dry farms them…this makes the roots go deep into the calcareous soil below. After lunch we hiked up to the top of their vineyards (see picture looking down the steep slopes), which has great views in all directions.


Back at the Tasting Room, we continued tasting an extensive line-up of wines, many more than we tasted at Pairings, and many of which aren’t currently distributed in Mass. This is one of the fun things about visiting wineries, as most of the wines are not distributed.  The line-up of wines is just stunning. Although Stolpman is best known for its Syrah, their Sauvignon Blanc, Roussanne and Roussanne/Viognier blend all are wonderful. The La Cuadrilla is a nice Syrah/Grenache co-fermented wine for the employees…they get all the profits from this wine. Also, unlike many wineries, their employees are year around, not just for harvest and other busy times. The La Coppa Sangiovese is delicious, with bright fruit and good acid. Then came the Syrahs, from the Estate, to the “Originals” to the “Originals no-sulfites added”, to the Hilltop…all excellent wines with their own character. Pairings will be carrying some of these wines….including an exclusive or two (TBD).


Buttonwood Farm Winery

Karen and Lori


Lori and I visited Buttonwood before having Pairings, just on a whim, and loved their wines. Since opening Pairings, we’ve brought in three Buttonwood wines (their Sauvignon Blanc, Hawk Red and Cabernet Sauvignon) and the winemaker has visited Pairings and presented Buttonwood wines at one of our Tuesday Pairings (which we plan to do again next year). During this visit we really got to know Buttonwood and taste many new wines. Karen, the winemaker, toured us through the facility and then out in the vineyards, which are very hilly and take advantage of the ocean morning fog and afternoon breezes. The vineyards include a pond area for events. All wineries in the area are required to maintain a water supply like this so that helicopters can scoop up water for fighting fires.

Buttonwood Pond


Back in the Tasting Room we went through an extensive line-up. We were reminded of how good the wines we carry are, and discovered others we’d like to bring in. Devin is SB/Semillon blend (Bordeaux style) that is lovely, and the Grenache Blanc is as good as any we’ve had, and at a reasonable price. Their Malbec came about because of the movie Sideways. The sales of Merlot went down precipitously, so they tore out some of it and planted Malbec. Both the Merlot and Malbec are excellent.


One Response to “Research Trip to Central Coast CA – Day 4 Stolpman and Buttonwood”

  1. Simone Geliveau September 8, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    So happy you’re getting so much first hand information. Have a great time. Sim

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: