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Laurie Jervis: Longtime Santa Ynez Viticulturist Andy Ibarra Has a Winner in His Tierra Y Vino Label

Andy Ibarra and Caren Rideau have their first tasting room on Industrial Way in Buellton

While getting Andy Ibarra, left, to smile for a photo may be difficult, he is nothing but passionate about the Tierra Y Vino wines he makes with Caren Rideau. Click to view larger
While getting Andy Ibarra, left, to smile for a photo may be difficult, he is nothing but passionate about the Tierra Y Vino wines he makes with Caren Rideau. (Laurie Jervis / Noozhawk photo)



Winemaker Andy Ibarra’s viticulture roots run deep in Santa Barbara County.

The native of Jalisco, Mexico, immigrated with his family to the United States in the 1970s and since 1985 has managed a prominent Santa Ynez Valley vineyard.

Tierra Y Vino, the wine label he and life partner Caren Rideau founded in 2012, has its first tasting room on Industrial Way in Buellton, and the two are turning heads with their wide selection of wines.

Ibarra started his Santa Barbara County winemaking and viticulture career in the cellar at Brander, and continued to Fess Parker and Rideau, where he became winemaker.

It was at Rideau that I met Ibarra and his partner, Rideau, a relative of Iris Rideau, the Rideau winery’s founder and former owner.

In 1985, Ibarra was hired to manage Solvang’s La Presa Vineyard, which overlooks the Santa Ynez River and was planted in 1974.

Many winemakers source grapes from the site, which is planted to albarino, chardonnay, grenache, petite sirah, rousanne and other varietals, and 32 years later, Ibarra still tends the property for owners Eric and Carleen Caldwell.

All of the wine grapes that Ibarra sources hail from La Presa Vineyard but for his tempranillo, which he sources from Cholame Vineyard in Monterey County. That site, planted in 2010, comprises 10 acres, he said.

David Dubois owns the Cholame label, and Ibarra is his winemaker.

For Cholame (pronounced “Sho-Lamb”) Vineyard, Ibarra has produced as many as 1,500 cases, but more recent vintages’ yields have decreased to between 800 and 1,200 cases annually, he said.

The Cholame lineup includes a grenache blanc, chardonnay, rosé of grenache, grenache, mourvedre, red Rhone blend, zinfandel, tempranillo and syrah.

While Tierra Y Vino’s current 650-case yield ranks as small production, Ibarra said his output of each varietal is smaller still — approximately 65 cases of each, or less than three barrels’ worth.

His Tierra Y Vino wines include an albarino, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, a rosé of grenache, grenache, a red Rhone blend, tempranillo, petite sirah and a port style dessert wine, Ibarra said.

The petite sirah will continue using the name “Ibarra” on the label, but all the other wines are Tierra Y Vino, he told me.

The lineup of Tierra Y Vino wines at the tasting room on Industrial Way in Buellton. Click to view larger
The lineup of Tierra Y Vino wines at the tasting room on Industrial Way in Buellton. (Laurie Jervis / Noozhawk photo)

The dessert wine is the 2009 Cielo, a barrel-aged petite sirah to which Ibarra added a 20-year-old brandy. He urged me to pair it with a tiny piece of chocolate from a dish on the tasting room
bar.

Both the grenache and chardonnay have earned high scores from wine publications and state competitions, and it’s clear that Ibarra and Rideau will continue to receive accolades for their wines.

I tasted through the entire lineup on the mid-November day that I interviewed both Ibarra and Rideau at their tasting room, which opened in October.

Two wine bars allow guests to sample both the Cholame Vineyards and Tierra Y Vino labels.

“There’s a lot of (staff) teamwork here as far as people being able to taste both labels at one site,” Ibarra said.

He and Rideau have high hopes for Industrial Way, which is becoming “a little destination place,” Ibarra noted.

“The area has exceeded my expectations for a retail site,” Rideau added.

While the couple resides in Solvang, Rideau maintains her longtime business, Kitchen Design Group, in Pacific Palisades.

She focuses on kitchen and bathroom design, and most of her clients are located in Pacific Palisades, as well as in Santa Monica, she said.

She spends part of each week managing her business, and the rest of the week in Solvang and Buellton working alongside Ibarra.

The Tierra Y Vino tasting room is located at 140 Industrial Way in Buellton.

— 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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