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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 9:22 am | Fair 42º


Donna Polizzi

Here & There

Donna Polizzi: Babcock Winery & Vineyards Delivers a New Taste Thrill

Winery near Lompoc turns the tables on wine-tasting experience with museum-quality collection of Americana to add atmosphere


While wine tasting recently with friends in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone, I discovered a new favorite.

We were visiting the Santa Barbara Wine Collective, at 131 Anacapa St., Suite C, which is a fun place with a great deli. It offers wines and wine tasting from a variety of local sources, including some relatively unknown boutique wineries.

My pourer treated me to a taste of a sensational 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. The moment this liquid sensation hit my lips, Babcock Winery & Vineyards gained a huge fan.

It wasn’t long before a trip to Lompoc was on my to-do list, and let me tell you: It is well worth the drive.

Babcock Winery & Vineyards, at 5175 E. Highway 246, is on a hill on 110 acres right off the roadway, roughly halfway between Buellton and Lompoc.

What captured my attention was the tasting room. It occupies a vast warehouse full of amusing things to see, do and, of course, taste.

When you walk through the front doors, you’ll be hooked immediately. It’s a jovial place with friendly staff who love working there. The warehouse is full of Old School slices of Americana — big signs that were popular in the 1950s and ’60s, American flags, vintage items, antiques and vinyl records, many from the ’70s.

It also is loaded with beautiful — and unexpected — household items that aren’t typical. The collection of old typewriters, cash registers, traveler chests and telephones are reminiscent of museum pieces. When I see so many things from my childhood described as “antiques,” it makes me realize I’m much older than I feel. Is it just me?

Ohhh, and the wine. It’s just superb. It’s not that often that you go in for a wine tasting and genuinely enjoy every single varietal poured. At Babcock, every offering is fantastic. Yes, it is that good.

Keys 2 the Coast has recommended Babcock Winery & Vineyards as a favorite place to wine, dine and explore with friends.

As mentioned, you can spend hours browsing, sitting on the patio, sipping wines or even playing pool. And a variety of games are at the ready if you’re including cards, chess or checkers.

Do yourself a favor and order a glass — or better yet — a bottle of the 2011 Slice of Heaven Pinot Noir. You will experience notes of raspberries and strawberries.

There are several things to keep you amused and occupied at Babcock Winery and Vineyards in addition to sipping their excellent selection of delicious wines.

Do you like retro?

Fill your glass with a fantastic 2011 Déjà vu, Pinot Noir, or a 2012 Top Cream, Chardonnay, and be sure to check out the Soulstruck Lounge in the building right in front of the picnic tables near the tasting room. It’s a rock ’n’ roll fantasy land where you will feel as if you’ve been transported back in time.

Even the walls are covered with classic old magazines, including Look and LIFE, as well as classic albums from The Doors, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and other groups too numerous to mention. Suffice to say, there are hundreds of other oldies but goodies to stir up memories from the past.

Winemaker Bryan Babcock really knows his stuff. In fact, the Los Angeles Times declared him one of the “10 Best Winemakers of the Year.”

A trendsetter with a first-rate grape-growing practice, Babcock also was named as one of the “top 10 small production winemakers in the world,” according to the James Beard Foundation.

Babcock — literally and figuratively — turns grape-growing practices upside down. I’m serious; ask your tasting room host to tell you about it while you’re there.

And if time allows, Babcock Winery shares a driveway with Melville Vineyards & Winery, at 5185 E. Highway 246. Both wineries offer nothing short of fabulous wine, and both boast properties that are scenic and welcoming.

Live life to the fullest and may your cup never be half empty.

Babcock Winery & Vineyards is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

— Donna Polizzi is a regional travel expert and founder of Keys 2 the Coast, a free Central Coast travel resource providing honest recommendations on the best places that locals want to go. She also is a board member of the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center. She can be contacted at [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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