Phil Carpenter

Hello, and welcome to “Santa Barbara Wine Talk,” a blog dedicated solely to the wines of the Santa Barbara area.

Santa Barbara has so much to offer the wine world. The area is relatively young compared to its Northern California counterparts, but its fame is skyrocketing. Pioneer Richard Sanford planted the first Pinot vines in the diatomaceous earth of the Santa Rita Hills in the 70’s. Around that same time, Jim Clendenen, Bob Lindquist, and Adam Tolmach worked together at Zaca Mesa on the Foxen Trail and established the fabulous Rhone varietals in the area. Fast forward to today, where Manfred Krankl’s wines garner a hundred points and a bunch of young guns are making world-class wine.

The Santa Barbara growing region is incredibly diverse. From cool climate sites like Watch Hill, Thompson vineyard, and the aforementioned Santa Rita Hills, to the warmer Santa Ynez Valley and new American Viticulture Area (AVA) Happy Canyon. There is also the only north-south valley in California, the Ballard Canyon (the NEWEST AVA), Santa Maria, and perhaps the most famous vineyard, Bien Nacido. The towns of Los Olivos, Solvang, and the Lompoc Wine Ghetto have seemed to double the number of tasting rooms in the past few years! Happily for those with full tasting schedules, most sites are within twenty minutes of each other (at least when I’m driving!).

As for me, I’ve had a passion for wine since 2004. In the grand scheme of things, that is a mere blip in the wine game. It wasn’t until my wife and her parents took me to Napa/Sonoma that I realized, “I love this stuff!” Ever since then, I’ve been on a quest to learn as much as I can about wine. I don’t think my wife’s family knew they were going to create such a monster…

After a few trips to Sonoma/Napa, my wife and I decided to give Santa Barbara a try. Not expecting much, we woke up early to beat the LA traffic and headed up the coast. We had the great pleasure to meet with Greg Brewer at Brewer-Clifton. His chards and pinots left us speechless. Next appointment was with Larry Schaffer. Anyone who spends five minutes with Larry will be ready to run through a wall, jacked to try some Rhones. I’d never had a Grenache before…or a Syrah from a cool climate site and in neutral oak…again my mind was blown. A tour around Clos Pepe with Wes Hagen was an absolutely amazing experience and taught me the uniqueness of the Santa Rita Hills. Jaffurs was the last stop before we headed back to San Diego. I instantly fell in love with their wines. I couldn’t believe how amazing they were. I’ve been hooked ever since.

As good as the wine is in this region, the people and the hospitality are even better. I’ve never had so much access to winemakers, facilities, and wines, and all are shared with great enthusiasm and passion. It’s because of this that I felt a need to share this special place with as many people as I could.

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Phil Carpenter's Latest Posts

Story of Soil: New Tasting Room in Los Olivos

Story of Soil: New Tasting Room in Los Olivos

| June 23, 2017 | 0 Comments

I’ve written about Jessica Gasca in the past, if you’d like to refresh your memory, click HERE! Jessica was a person I met on one of our initial trips to Santa Barbara. At that time, she was working at Sanguis. She asked me to help bottle there once. First impression after watching her work as […]

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Spear Vineyards & Winery: Next Big Thing in Sta. Rita Hills

Spear Vineyards & Winery: Next Big Thing in Sta. Rita Hills

| April 14, 2017 | 0 Comments

A few years ago, while I was attending the Sta. Rita Hills Wine & Fire event, I was bouncing around tables with my crew when someone said, “There is a gentleman walking around that is looking to start a vineyard and winery”. We just so happened to end up at one of the tasting tables […]

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Bevela Wines: A Husband & Wife Team Makes Wine in Santa Barbara

Bevela Wines: A Husband & Wife Team Makes Wine in Santa Barbara

| March 11, 2017 | 0 Comments

A few years back, I went to one of the famous Au Bon Climat (ABC)/Qupe Open Houses in Santa Maria. If you are into Santa Barbara wine, and have NOT attended one of these, you MUST! I remember I parked my car on the dirt road, and had to walk about a quarter mile to […]

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Nine Days in Heaven: Day Two: BIG Day of Tasting! Part 1

Nine Days in Heaven: Day Two: BIG Day of Tasting! Part 1

| February 13, 2015 | 0 Comments

Day Two started hangover free. Which was surprising considering the night before, I capped Day One’s festivities with fellow Berserksers, Jim Salvito and Charlie Fu. Fun filled night of Burg and Pliny. Day Two was going to be my busiest day. We had a morning appointment with Drake Whitcraft, an afternoon appointment with Mark Horvath […]

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Nine Days in Heaven: Day One: Start-in SLO

Nine Days in Heaven: Day One: Start-in SLO

| January 31, 2015 | 0 Comments

I’ve never taken a trip to Santa Barbara wine country for granted. I used to drive from San Diego for even one-day visits! Now that we’ve moved to the United Kingdom, our trips to my favorite place in the world are even more valuable. The trip previous to this one was really short. This last […]

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Vintage 2014 Twitter Event on 12/10/14@5:30pm (Pacific)

Vintage 2014 Twitter Event on 12/10/14@5:30pm (Pacific)

| December 7, 2014 | 0 Comments

The grapes of Santa Barbara are about to take a different kind of lead role. Thanks to the vision of Wil Fernandez, folks will be able to see a full documentation of the 2014 growing season and harvest through a series of short films. The project is titled, “Vintage 2014: The Stories Behind the Vines“. […]

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Deadline for Comments on Sta. Rita Hills Expansion Ends Soon (DEC. 5)!!

Deadline for Comments on Sta. Rita Hills Expansion Ends Soon (DEC. 5)!!

| December 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

Photo I took while at the 2013 Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance “Wine & Fire” event The due date to submit comments on the proposed expansion of the Sta. Rita Hills (SRH) American Viticultural Area (AVA) is December 5th! This rather controversial proposition could, if approved, radically change the composition of this esteemed AVA. Now […]

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If You Don’t Know…Now You Know! 6 Santa Barbara Winemakers to Watch

If You Don’t Know…Now You Know! 6 Santa Barbara Winemakers to Watch

| November 18, 2014 | 0 Comments

Perhaps the most exciting thing about following Santa Barbara wine is watching good people and their labels develop before your eyes. There are always new folks to meet and new wines to get to know. In my first post on this new blog, I thought it would be fun to profile a few folks that […]

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