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Santa Barbara, CA, United States
I enjoy creating original wine-pairing recipes that are healthful and delicious. I work for Touring & Tasting a Santa Barbara based wine club and national magazine as Food Editor. However, I am not paid for this blog and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own. I received my Personal Chef Skills Competency Award from the SBCC's School Of Culinary Arts. In 2012, I started Inside Wine - Santa Barbara with pal Lila Brown which features wine tastings with winery owners and winemakers. I also serve on the Board of the Santa Barbara Culinary Arts group, which had Julia Child as one of the founding members and funds scholarships for SBCC culinary students in her name.

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Santa Ynez's Refugio Ranch Beauty

Refugio Ranch pig roastRefugio Ranch hosted a wine biz party last Thursday at their bucolic Santa Ynez ranch. Refugio Ranch owners Kevin and Niki Gleason were the generous hosts, providing a spit-roasted Berkshire pig, watermelon-and-tomato salad, cornbread, bread-and-butter pickles, and baked beans to pair with their portfolio of luscious wines. Wine industry folk enjoyed live music, great wine and the opportunity to soak in the views of the 415-acre estate, which were particularly compelling with the golden summer sun slanting across the vineyards.

Refugio Ranch Kevin GleasonIn March, Inside Wine Santa Barbara hosted a picnic at the view point of Refugio Ranch (read post) on a picture-perfect day. Last week's Refugio Ranch Pig Roast was an opportunity to enjoy the sunset over the property and to see the ranch house. Kevin (at left) and his wife Niki spent two years scouring the Central Coast wine country for the ideal property and they found it in the south end of the Santa Ynez Valley, with diverse terrain and microclimates to grow a range of varietals.

Refugio ranch vineyardsSemillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Rousanne are planted along the river on the warmer valley floor. Sangiovese, Petite Sirah and two blocks of Syrah are planted on the hills near the largest pond. Four blocks of Syrah, Grenache, Malvasia Bianca and another block of Roussanne surround the ranch house, beautifully laid out to enhance the vegetation and curves of the natural landscape. The vineyards are meticulously tended by Vineyard Manager Ruben Solorzano; the grapes are hand-harvested in the cool of night, hand-selected, then crafted into wines of finesse by winemaker Ryan Deovlet.

view from ranch house at Refugio RanchWe had the chance to talk with winemaker Ryan, who was talking technique with winemaker Michael Roth of Martian Winery. We also were given a tour of the living quarters by Kevin Gleason, including the oil paintings of his son Max, Creative Director of Refugio Ranch and a professional artist, who designs the labels for Refugio Ranch wines. The master bedroom on the second floor and the kitchen look out to this panorama--a pretty nice place to sit and enjoy a glass of Refugio Ranch Barbareño!

Refugio Ranch was pouring their:
Refugio Ranch Barbareno 2012 Agua Dulce de Refugio (100% Malvasia Bianca), light and refreshing, with a bit of spritz
2011 "Refugio Ranch" Sauvignon Blanc (20% Semillon, 80% Sauvignon Blanc), one of my favorite Refugio Ranch wines, with a round, smooth mouth-feel
2010 Tiradora (100% Sauvignon Blanc), awarded 90 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
2011 "Refugio Ranch" Viognier, if you've found Viognier blowsy and over-ripe--try this Viognier--it's restrained and delicate
2010 Ineseño (60% Roussanne, 40% Viognier), awarded 91 points by the Rhone Report
2010 Barbareño (74% Syrah, 26% Petite Sirah) Syrah was given a bigger role in this vintage
2009 Barbareño (65% Syrah, 35% Petite Sirah) awarded 91 points by the Rhone Report; a lovely sipping wine that develops well in the glass

Refugio Ranch picnicAs a slight evening chill began to set in, a fire was lit and we made our own s'mores. Nicole Carnevale, Refugio Ranch Sales Manager, brought out a special treat to pair with dessert--the Refugio Ranch 2012 Nectár. A dessert wine made from hand selected clusters of Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, and Malvasia Bianca with a small amount of residual sugar, the wine is lightly sweet, aromatic, with a long finish. The wine is made with the Vin de Paille or passito method, where the grapes are dried for about 2 1/2 weeks on straw mats to concentrate their flavor. This wine is normally only available at the tasting room.

Refugio Ranch tasting roomThe next day, we stopped by the Refugio Ranch tasting room conveniently located in Los Olivos at 2990 Grand Avenue. The historic building dates back to the 1880s. Much of the construction material was re-purposed from the original building, keeping the rustic feel even with the modern updating.

Click here for tasting room hours and more information.

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