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Tuesday, December 18 , 2018, 8:28 pm | Fair 50º


Laurie Jervis: Lompoc Winemaker Dan Green Buys Rhone Powerhouse Jaffurs Wine Cellars

Dan Green, winemaker and founder of Lompoc’s Conarium Wines, last week announced his purchase of Craig and Lee Jaffurs’ 22-year-old label, Jaffurs Wine Cellars.

The news, coming just as harvest 2016 commences, took many in the Central Coast wine industry by surprise.

Both buyer and seller, however, had been in talks for some time, and each voiced excitement over the deal and look forward to working side by side as grapes are trucked to the cellar.

Green’s purchase includes all wine inventory, as well as the Jaffurs’ tasting room and winery facility, both located at 819 E. Montecito St. in Santa Barbara.

Among the Jaffurs’ wines are syrah, grenache, petite sirah, roussanne and viognier. Green makes small-lot pinot noir and chardonnay in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto under the Conarium brand, which he founded in 2012.

Green, his wife, Janelle, and three young daughters reside in the San Roque Santa Barbara neighborhood, and Green told me in an email that he intends to immediately move his Conarium production “down here to Santa Barbara to consolidate everything.”

Green and Craig Jaffurs will team up on winemaking for the next year, after which Jaffurs will transition to a seat on the Board of Directors of Jaffurs Wine Cellars, according to a news release.

All current staff members at Jaffurs will remain in place, including longtime general manager David Yates, winemaker Matt Brady and assistant winemaker/cellar master Steve Searle.

For Green and his wife, the purchase is a dream come true.

“We have an incredible opportunity,” Green said. “I am extremely excited to work with Craig, Dave, Matt and the rest of the team. Jaffurs is known for its integrity and quality in wine production. I plan to maintain and build upon that reputation.”

Craig and his wife, Lee Wardlaw Jaffurs, a local author, founded their namesake label in 1994, and their Rhone grape-based wines are viewed as some of the best made in Santa Barbara County.

Speaking of harvest: It’s well underway.

The many producers whose lineup includes a sparkling one, or three, began picking chardonnay and pinot noir as early as late July, and are continuing as I write this.

Across the county, grapes such as viognier, roussanne and sauvignon blanc began reaching maturity late last week and early this week. And some producers have already picked pinot noir.

At Zaca Mesa on Aug. 18, Eric Mohseni, director of winemaking and vineyard operations, supervised the winery’s first pick of the 2016 vintage: Several tons of viognier. He anticipated picking the remainder of Zaca’s viognier later this week.

Last year, Mohseni noted, the harvest also began with estate viognier, but one day earlier.

Having worked harvests for nearly two decades, Mohseni has no illusions about control — Mother Nature holds the reins as far as when grapes are ready to be picked.

But he hopes that slightly cooler temperatures of late will mean a slower-paced harvest this year.

In 2015, the Zaca Mesa crews started with that viognier harvest on Aug. 17 and picked grapes daily straight through for one month.

“Last year was the first time we’ve ever completely finished harvesting before October,” ​Mohseni said.

— Laurie Jervis blogs about wine at www.centralcoastwinepress.com, tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via [email protected]. The opinions expressed are her own.

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