Stephen Janes and Doretta Bonner
Margerum Wine Company general manager Stephen Janes provides a pour for Doretta Bonner at a recent Margerum Wine Club “pickup party” in the Santa Ynez Valley. (Judy Foreman / Noozhawk photo)

Although I’m not a wine expert or a chef, I do love good wine and food — especially in the ambience of the Santa Ynez Valley wine country. Its dreamy rows of grape vines with uninterrupted vistas always slow me down and remind me how fortunate we are to live here.

On a recent fall day I drove out to the Valley for my Margerum Wine Company Wine club “pickup party.”

It was a lovely afternoon tasting some recent wine offerings with lunch cooked on an open fire by Jake Francis of Valley Piggery. Lunch included Finley Farms Pumpkin Purée, Fourme d’Ambert Grilled Cheese, Santa Ynez Valley Heirloom tomatoes, Braised Motley Crew Ranch Lamb and Finley Farms Little Gems Lettuces — all with a savory bent and a perfect accompaniment.

Host and namesake owner Doug Margerum and general manager Stephen Janes were eager to chat while pouring Library Wines, some in five-liter bottles that they’ve stored and aged to drink at a future occasion.

Margerum has been involved in the Santa Barbara food and wine scene for more than 40 years. In 2001, he sold the Wine Cask restaurant — which he and his family had opened in 1994 — to devote all of his energy to winemaking.

Soon after, Margerum Wine Company was born. He primarily produces M5 wines (Rhône varietal white and red blends), a co-fermented Syrah called ÜBER, a Sybarite Sauvignon Blanc, Riviera Rosé and other single varietal Rhône wines.

“One of my missions was originally to make wines that could age gracefully for years to come,” Margerum told Noozhawk.

“Enjoying mature wine like these Library Wines is rare in today’s world, and we use our wine club events to showcase and highlight how well our wines age.”

Limited quantities of wines are produced from grapes grown at the Estate Vineyard in the Los Olivos District and at top vineyards from around Santa Barbara County. The wines are made at Margerum’s state-of the art winery in Buellton.

Judy Foreman

The author picked up an idea to serve at Thanksgiving: A new M5 Estate White Rhône-style Blend. (Noozhawk photo)

Margerum was not only pouring wine but helping the guests feel like we were at his home with him and his wife, Marni.

“My philosophy is to return to wine making’s previous form of production — handcrafted and personal,” he said.

Several tables set up in the rustic canyon featured cheeses, olives and wines to taste and to buy. The menu included 2021 Sybarite Sauvignon Blanc, 2021 Riviera Rosé, 2021 M5 Estate White, 2021 Rhône Blend, 2021 Reisling, 2021 M5 Red Rhône-style Blend, 2021 Estate Cinsault, 2021 Helena Red, 2021 Estate Grenache, 2020 Estate Syrah and 2020 ÜBER Syrah.

The Margerum staff described the new offerings and provided an education on food pairings. I was introduced to a new M5 Estate White Rhône-style Blend, which immediately became the favorite of my tasting experience and was suggested as a great accompaniment for my Thanksgiving table.

All in all, a successful “pickup party,” if you ask me.

— Judy Foreman is a Noozhawk columnist and longtime local writer and lifestyles observer. She can be contacted at Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

Judy Foreman is a Noozhawk columnist and longtime local writer and lifestyles observer. She can be contacted at The opinions expressed are her own.