Taste of the Vine, hosted by the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute, will take place in the comfort of attendees’ homes this year.
Taste of the Vine, hosted by the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute, will take place in the comfort of attendees’ homes this year. (Courtesy graphic)

The Sansum Diabetes Research Institute has hosted Taste of the Vine for 13 years. However, this year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers had to think outside the box but still highlight the wine theme. Hence, the “UnEvent.”

This Saturday, participants in the fundraiser are invited to buy a bottle to drink in the comfort of their own home and thus support the SDRI’s efforts to continue cutting-edge research, education and clinical care. While the deadline to purchase and receive a bottle of donated wine has passed, Taste of the Vine’s organizers welcome inquiries about sponsorships.

The Santa Barbara wine community donated more than 25 cases of wine to the 2020 UnEvent, organizers announced, adding that even during a pandemic, it is crucial that diabetes research continues, because people living with diabetes are at higher risk of a poor outcome from COVID-19.

The wines donated include those from Paul Lato Wines, Chanin Wine Co., GoGi Wines, A Tribute to Grace, Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards, Melville Winery, J. Wilkes Wines, Grimm’s Bluff, Verdad Wines, Foxen Winery, Lindquist Family Wines, Foley Wines and Grassini Family Vineyards.

SDRI was founded in 1944 by Dr. William Sansum, the first U.S. physician to manufacture and administer insulin in the treatment of diabetes. With a world-class reputation for innovation in the field of Type 1 diabetes, including the artificial pancreas system and diabetes in pregnancy, SDRI is broadening its area of expertise to address a range of issues in Type 2 diabetes in an effort to address this growing epidemic.

Click here for more information about the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute.

Click here for Taste of the Vine’s UnEvent online event page. Click here for more information about tickets and sponsorships.

Winemaker Ernst Storm Joins Grimm’s Bluff

Winemaker Ernst Storm, owner and winemaker of the Storm Wines label, has joined Happy Canyon-based Grimm’s Bluff as winemaker.

Ernst Storm

Ernst Storm (Courtesy photo)

“I love working with Grimm’s Bluff for two reasons: It is a vineyard with immense potential to make world-class wines, and the Grimms are such great people to work with,” Storm said.

He also consults for Habit Wine Co. and Donnachadh Vineyards.

South African-born Storm joins a team that includes Philippe Coderey, a 25th-generation vine grower, winemaker and farmer who has made a life farming and tending vineyards and orchards in his native Provence, as well as on Corsica, in Switzerland, Pennsylvania and California.

Coderey was involved with the M. Chapoutier Domaine, where he supervised the Demeter certification of the Banyuls and Collioures appellations, as well as overseeing the biodynamic farming of 130 acres of vineyards in the Hermitage, Crozes Hermitage, Cornas, St Joseph, Condrieu and Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellations.

In 2010, Rick and Aurora Grimm purchased 246 acres on Kentucky Road in the Happy Canyon AVA. They planted 16.6 acres to Bordeaux variety grapes, including cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot, cabernet franc and sauvignon blanc, as well as five acres of Italian varietal olives.

Today, Grimm’s Bluff is nearly self-sustaining, with cattle, chickens and guinea hens adding biodiversity to the estate, which is Demeter certified. The winery has a tasting room in Los Olivos.

“In short order, Ernst and his family became a part of our family,” Rick Grimm said. “His talents and sensitivities as a winemaker and artist are accented by his decency as a person. He respects the land and his fellow human beings, and has proved to be an adept translator of our unique terroir.”

Click here for more information about the winery.

Alliance Honors Richard Sanford as Vintner of Year

Bob and Barb Zorich, proprietors of Alma Rosa Winery, has announced that winery founder Richard Sanford has been named 2020 Vintner of the Year by the Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance.

Richard Sanford

Richard Sanford (Courtesy photo)

In lieu of the alliance’s annual Wine & Fire event, canceled this year because of COVID-19 restrictions, journalist and wine critic Matt Kettmann on Tuesday led a live online tribute and tasting to honor Sanford’s dedication to the Sta. Rita Hills wine grape growing region.

Sanford planted the first pinot noir vineyard on the Central Coast in 1971 at the Sanford & Benedict vineyard, and has lived and worked in the Sta. Rita Hills, a region he helped create, for nearly five decades.

A geographer by trade, he identified the unique transverse mountain range near Santa Barbara, where the valleys run east to west and open to the sea, as an optimal area to plant grapes. With the knowledge that the climate of coastal California is largely determined by proximity to the ocean, he surveyed these unique valleys very carefully.

“When you drive to Santa Barbara from Los Angeles, you are actually driving west,” Sanford said.

In 1981, with his wife, Thekla, he launched Sanford Winery, where they produced wines of local and international acclaim for more than 25 years. During this time, Sanford established and planted many of the Sta. Rita Hills’ most revered sites, including La Rinconada, La Encantada and Alma Rosa’s current estate, El Jabali, which was originally planted in 1983.

In 2005, the Sanfords founded Alma Rosa, which they sold to Bob and Barb Zorich in 2014. The couple continue to live at the Alma Rosa estate, where Richard Sanford serves as winery ambassador and continues to advocate for the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. Samra Morris is Alma Rosa’s winemaker.

Click here for more information about the winery.

Labyrinth Winery Closes Ventura Tasting Room

The owners of Labyrinth Winery announced in late July that their downtown Ventura tasting room would close in the wake of the pandemic.

“This was not an easy decision, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will close permanently on July 30,” co-owners Ed and Stephanie Schwartz and co-owner/winemaker Rick Hill stated in an email. “We will interact via virtual events, social media and by appointment at the (Santa Maria) winery in the future. Don’t be surprised if we do a local pop-up from time to time.”

For more information, email info@labyrinthwine.com.

Three Wine, Beer Festivals Rescheduled to 2021

The Santa Barbara Vintners announced last week that its signature event, the Vintners Festival, has been rescheduled to May 1.

Originally scheduled for May 2 of this year, and postponed to Oct. 10, the event now will take place next year to better accommodate pandemic restrictions and to recognize the county’s recent surge in infections, the organization announced.

Kathy Vreeland, executive director of the Buellton Chamber of Commerce, announced that both the Buellton Wine & Chili Festival and the Buellton Brew Fest also have been rescheduled to 2021.

The Wine & Chili Festival is scheduled for March 14, and the Brew Fest is set to take place May 1.

— Laurie Jervis tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via winecountrywriter@gmail.com. The opinions expressed are her own.

Laurie Jervis

Laurie Jervis, Noozhawk Columnist

Laurie Jervis can be reached at winecountrywriter@gmail.com. The opinions expressed are her own.