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A girlfriend and I recently headed to Roblar Winery & Vineyards in Santa Ynez. The grounds are gorgeous, and it was a delight to listen to live music and smell the fresh scent of lavender while enjoying a picnic lunch, surrounded by natural beauty.
If you go to Roblar, I hope you are lucky enough to have Scott Williams as your tasting room attendant. He was knowledgeable and quite the comedian.
Our first pour of of the day was the Roblar Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine from Sonoma County. It wasn’t your average sparkling. It was light, refreshing, excellent, and each sip was a burst of flavor. This particular sparking wine, was made from Pinot grapes, whereas Chardonnay grapes are typically used for sparkling wines.
The 2015 Sarah Rose is from Roblar’s “Lea” brand, which is made in the classic, old-world style. The creation begins with hand harvesting and ends with a foot-stomping dance party. No machines or metals are used in the production of Lea varietals.
The 2015 Lea Rose is what Williams called “the patio pounder.” It’s slightly sweet and versatile enough to pair with just about any dish.
It’s easy to understand why the staff at Roblar refer to winemaker Bryan Davison as “The Wizard.” He makes 54 different kinds of wine and sparkling wines, many of which are award winners.
If you’re a Pinot Noir fan, Roblar makes eight different Pinots. The Roblar 2014 Pinot is the lightest, with an elegant balanced finish, whereas the Lea 2014 is much heavier, with robust, concentrated flavors.
The Roblar Estate Fume Blanc is elegant and bold. Notes of citrus, floral and peach can make your taste buds do the tango.
If you like Sangiovese, the 2014 Estate Sangiovese is excellent. It is aged for 15 months in 2- to 4-year-old French oak barrels. The color is a deep ruby with aromas of ripe plum, cherry and notes of spice.
If you like Port, the Roblar Winery & Vineyard’s 2012 Port is one of the best.
Roblar has more choices than I have ever seen in a tasting room. We took home a bottle of the 2014 Grassetto. This wine is quite different. It’s a Tuscan blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
My favorite of the day was the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. This one is absolutely delicious. I tasted notes of plum, with a very smooth finish. The grapes were harvested from the Happy Canyon and Camp 4 vineyards. In addition, 7 percent Sarah, 5 percent Merlot and 3 percent Malbec were blended to achieve the rich flavors of plum and black cherry.
“Do you know why Port is so sweet?” Williams asked us.
After cracking a couple of jokes, he gave us the answer:
“As the winemaker is making the wine, you have the sugars and the yeast. The sugars devour the yeast in the fermentation process, which converts them into alcohol. At a certain point during the process, each winemaker will add some wine brandy, a fortified wine, which has a high level of alcohol that kills off all of the yeast. At this stage, additional sugar is left behind and has nothing else to devour, converting over to alcohol, leaving a rich sweet wine.”
I also learned that Port, or Fortified Wine, on average has 20 percent alcohol content. Boy, that explains a lot!
There are so many wonderful wines to taste. I noticed that several of the pours weren’t on the tasting list. The listed tasting choices are the Classic Tasting or the Reserve Tasting, but ours was the “Scotty Tasting.” The experience was truly one delicious wine after the next, with fascinating stories trumped by the outpouring of humor.
This is the first time I’ve ever gone to the Santa Ynez Valley and ended up staying the entire afternoon at just one winery. It was that good.
Roblar Winery, at 3010 Roblar Ave. in Santa Ynez, is open daily and offers food and wine pairings on the weekends. During the holidays, however, it will be closed Dec. 24-25 and Jan. 1. Click here for more information, or call 805.686.2603.
— Donna Polizzi is a regional travel expert and founder of Keys to the Coast, a free Central Coast travel resource providing honest recommendations on the best places that locals want to go. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.