Lane Tanner, one of the first female winemakers on the Central Coast, has been nominated by Wine Enthusiast magazine as Winemaker of the Year.

Winners in that category and 15 others will be honored at a black-tie gala on Jan. 27 at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco during the 20th annual Wine Star Awards and announced in Wine Enthusiast’s “Best of the Year” issue.

Throughout her career, Tanner has made her focus pinot noir, primarily from the Santa Maria Valley. After stints at Firestone, Sierra Madre Vineyard, Zaca Mesa and the Hitching Post, she focused on her own label, Lane Tanner Wines, from 1989 to 2009.

In 2013, she started a partnership with Will Henry, co-owner of Pico at the Los Alamos Store. Today, the duo make pinot noir and more under their Santa Maria Valley-based label, Lumen Wines.

Terroir Project to Blur Lines Between Beer, Wine

The Terroir Project will double down this year as 12 breweries from around the world participate in an experimental crossover between beer and wine — all to be revealed at the main event on Saturday, Sept. 21.

The Terroir Project will take place from noon to 3 p.m. and return for the second year to Los Olivos’ West Ranch. Each of the participating breweries will present their interpretation of a shared recipe that draws from both the grain and the grape.

Guest breweries and wineries will be on hand to share their creations. Live music, a food truck, a charitable raffle and an artisan marketplace are also part of the festivities.

Click here for tickets and more information.

“The Terroir Project is all about blurring the genres of beer and wine to explore how ‘terroir’ — or sense of place — drives what we taste,” said Jim Crooks, master blender at Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks, which is steering the event.

In 2018, its inaugural year, the Terroir Project launched with participating breweries. The 2019 edition will feature Arizona Wilderness (Gilbert, Ariz.), Barrelworks (Buellton), Beavertown (London), Birrificio Del Ducato (Soragna, Italy), The Bruery (Placentia), Garage Project (Wellington City, New Zealand), Jester King (Austin, Texas), Side Project (St. Louis), Sierra Nevada (Chico), Trillium (Boston), Wild Beer Co. (Somerset, England) and Wildflower (Marrickville, Australia).

Each brewery was invited to produce its own distinct beer-wine hybrid during the past year, but with three binding stipulations: Each had to use the same grain bill, the same methodology of handling the grapes, and the same co-fermented percentage of wort (51 percent) and red wine grapes (49 percent) fermented with wild flora — “this is where we embrace the absolute soul of the vineyard,” Crooks said.

The kicker: All grapes had to be grown within 100 miles of each brewery.

“The Terroir Project answers a very intriguing question: ‘What if we each brewed the same beer but allowed our natural local influences to predominate and see how our beers differ?’” Crooks said. “We can’t wait to find out.”

Tickets are $65 and include Terroir Project tastings from the 12 participating breweries, as well as tastings from guest breweries such as Russian River Brewing Co., Alesong Brewing and Crooked Stave, as well as from local guest wineries. Admission also includes a commemorative tasting glass and live music. Food may be purchased on-site.

Firestone Walker also will raffle off pairs of passes for three of its signature events in 2020: From The Barrel, the Firestone Walker Invitational (early access) and the next Terroir Project. Raffle proceeds will benefit the Pacific Conservatory Theatre (PCPA), a beloved local institution that teaches acting and stages plays on the Central Coast. Raffle tickets are $5.

2017 Lindquist Family Grenache Wins Gold Medal

The Lindquist Family 2017 Grenache has been awarded the gold medal from the 2019 Sunset International Wine Competition. The competition had more than 2,700 entries this year, and each wine was judged in a double-blind format.

The grenache was sourced from the biodynamically farmed Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard in Edna Valley and is 80 percent grenache and 20 percent syrah. Only four barrels — fewer than 100 cases — were produced.

Central Coast Winemaker Makes Magazine’s ‘40 Under 40’ Issue

Amanda Wittstrom-Higgins of Ancient Peaks Winery has been named to Wine Enthusiast magazine’s annual “Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers” in the wine, beer and spirits industry. The list is published in the magazine’s October edition.

According to the magazine, these up-and-coming tastemakers “represent some of the best talent in the country, working to push the boundaries of what’s possible” in the culture of drinks.

Wittstrom-Higgins was recognized for her achievements in business, mentorship, charity and community engagement.

“I am honored to be recognized by Wine Enthusiast and to be included with such a great group of innovators,” she said. “I’ve had some wonderful opportunities during my professional journey, and this provides me with another platform to pay it forward.”

In 2018, Wittstrom-Higgins established Dream Big Darling, a nonprofit organization created to foster the success of women in the wine and spirits industry. An outgrowth of her passion for mentorship, Dream Big Darling is steered by a board of industry veterans dedicated to creating leadership opportunities for the next generation.

In 2017, Wittstrom-Higgins co-founded Wine Speak Paso Robles, an annual industry trade event that is now regarded as one of the top events of its kind in California. The third annual Wine Speak event will take place in January.

Wittstrom-Higgins is a fourth-generation San Luis Obispo County resident and has been with Ancient Peaks Winery since its inception. She resides in Cambria with her husband, Sam, and two young children.

As vice president of operations at Ancient Peaks, Wittstrom-Higgins has helped forge annual double-digit sales growth while managing a variety of new initiatives, such as the creation of the winery’s Oyster Ridge event venue. Under her guidance, the winery’s distribution has grown to 44 states as well as international markets.

Alma Rosa’s Richard Sanford to Lead Oct. 19 Event

Richard Sanford

Richard Sanford (Sanford family photo)

The public is invited to hear Santa Barbara County wine pioneer Richard Sanford share his stories about the early years of California wine and the future of winegrowing from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 19, at Alma Rosa Ranch, 7250 Santa Rosa Road in Buellton.

The “Conversation with Richard Sanford” will be moderated by Matt Kettmann, a contributing editor for Wine Enthusiast magazine and an editor at the Santa Barbara Independent newspaper.

Sanford is one of California’s earliest proponents of pinot noir and the first to plant the wine grape in Santa Barbara County in 1971. During his 48-year career, he has founded three wineries, helped establish the Santa Rita Hills appellation and made many contributions to the world of wine, for which he was inducted into the Vintner Hall of Fame in 2012.

The cost, $15 per person, will include a glass or two of Sanford’s favorite wines. To reserve a space, call 805.688.9090 x103. Click here for tickets and more information.

— Laurie Jervis blogs about wine at, tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via The opinions expressed are her own.