The Loizides family of the Santa Ynez Valley has opened Vega Vineyard and Farm on the historic Buellton ranch that dates back to 1853 and was the longtime home of Mosby Winery & Vineyards until the Mosby family sold the property.
Hospitality entrepreneurs Karen and Demetrios “Jimmy” Loizides — who are the owners of the Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez and Solvang’s K’Syrah Catering & Events and the former owners/founders of Sear Steakhouse in Solvang — have opened Vega Vineyard, a working winery, farm and event venue on Santa Rosa Road.
Vega Vineyard and Farm includes the former Mosby vineyards, 21 acres currently planted to Italian varietals, as well as the site’s winery and tasting room, both of which have been redesigned.
Leading Vega’s winemaking operations is longtime Santa Barbara County winemaker Steve Clifton, known for his decades-long work with Italian grape varieties, in particular for his former label, Palmina. Estate-grown Vega Vineyard and Farm bottlings will start with the current vintage (2022).
Currently available for tasting and purchase are an inventory of wines from the former Mosby Winery, among them nebbiolo, sangiovese, dolcetto, syrah, barbera, pinot noir, chardonnay, Bianco (a white blend), albariño, pinot grigio, vermentino, viognier and a rosato (rosé).
The tasting room is contained within a barn that was once the land’s circa-1880s carriage house. It joins other historical buildings on the property, including the original abode home, dating back to 1853, which now includes a VIP seating area.
Atop one of the highest points of the mountainous parcel of land stands a 216-sq. foot adobe-style chapel with pews salvaged from an Ohio church. The chapel has stained-glass windows and an outdoor patio with views of the Santa Ynez Valley.
“This property has an incredible, tangible history, and such energy of its own. But it needed some love, and we are overjoyed at the chance to be the people who inject new life into this important place,” said Jimmy Loizides.
Nicholas Miller Named Wine Executive of Year
Nicholas Miller of the Miller Family Wine Company in Santa Maria has been named the 2022 “Wine Executive of the Year” in Wine Enthusiast’s annual “Wine Star Awards.” Miller was one of six individuals from around the world to be in the running.
This year is the 23rd anniversary of Wine Enthusiast’s annual Wine Star Awards, which honor individuals, regions and companies that make outstanding contributions to the world of wine and alcohol. Nominations are made across 15 different categories, including the Lifetime Achievement Award and American Wine Legend, and will be celebrated at the annual black-tie gala in January 2023 in San Francisco.
In 2021, Santa Barbara County was awarded as “Wine Region of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast.
As Chief Sales and Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President for Miller Family Wine Company, Miller has brought innovation, growth and strategic planning to his family’s multigenerational business, guiding it through recent acquisitions, partnerships and the launches of new brands.
Under the umbrella of the Thornhill Companies, the Miller Family Wine Company includes the Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills vineyards in Santa Maria, several national brands, among them J. Wilkes, Ballard Lane, and Smashberry, as well as French Camp Vineyards.
Among Miller’s contributions are the partnership with DTC-focused Scout & Cellar to launch a wholesale offering, Scout Wild; new brands such as optik, launched with esteemed winemaker Joey Tensley; Hand on Heart, a non-alcoholic wine collaboration with Iron Chef Cat Cora; and, more recently, Reciprocity, a label that features wines sourced exclusively from the Miller Family’s French Camp Vineyard in San Luis Obispo County.
Miller also co-developed a new hospitality center which is set to open at the family’s famed Bien Nacido Vineyard in spring 2023 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the vineyard.
Miller is active throughouot the Central Coast wine community, serving as a current board member for the Santa Barbara Vintners Association and for The Wine Institute.
“What a tremendous honor to be chosen by Wine Enthusiast for this globally recognized award,” Miller said. “It has been a privilege to be among the next generation leading my family business, and I am humbled to have been singled out for my contributions. This incredible award may be associated with my name, but it represents much more than me, as it is ultimately a recognition for our entire company and for the Central Coast wine region. Every day I am inspired both professionally and personally by the people I get to work alongside and the wine community I get to be a part of, and I am forever indebted to them.”
“I was delighted to hear Nicholas won the Wine Star award for Wine Executive of the Year,” said Alison Laslett, CEO of the Santa Barbara Vintners. “He has been on my board for several years now, and I see other members of our wine industry look to him for his leadership and his opinion. With such a long-standing legacy family, he brings a perspective from which we can all learn. Nicholas deserves every accolade coming his way and we are so lucky to have him in our region.”
COLD Coast, Figueroa Mountain Breweries Win Big at Beer Festival
At the annual Great American Beer Festival (GABF), Lompoc’s six-month old COLD Coast Brewing Company won a bronze medal for its Brown Evolved American brown ale, and Buellton’s Figueroa Mountain took home two bronzes for its Hoppy Poppy IPA and Dreaming of Bamberg beers, according to news releases from both breweries.
The GABF took place in September in Denver, and the medals were announced at the awards ceremony Oct. 8.
COLD Coast was recognized in the American Brown Ale category for Brown Evolved, a beer that showcases the bready, biscuity, toffee and chocolate notes of toasted malt and the aromas of its Cascade and Centennial hops, said co-founder/co-owner Eric Oviatt.
COLD Coast is a three-barrel nano-brewery specializing in a range of hand-crafted ales. “Being open for less than six months, we are completely humbled to be recognized on a national stage at our first GABF ever,” Oviatt noted. He and the other three owners of COLD Coast traveled to Colorado to accept their win.
An international panel of 235 expert judges tasted 9,904 entries, as well as 94 Collaboration and 35 Pro-Am entries that were received from 2,154 breweries across the United States, organizers said.
“Each year the Great American Beer Festival showcases the best that American brewers have to offer,” said Chris Williams, competition director. “With more than 9,900 entries, this year’s event was the most competitive to date. Congratulations to all the winners who truly demonstrated why the U.S. is the best brewing nation in the world.”
For the 2022 event, Figueroa Mountain Brewing continued its 12-year-long tradition of winning. Fig Brew now has the distinction of being the only brewery that has “medaled” in every competition since 2011, according to company representatives.
“We feel so fortunate to have been recognized with these awards,” said Kevin Ashford, brewmaster and creative director at Figueroa Mountain. “Keeping a streak of wins longer than any other American brewery shows that brewing great beer is more than just the work of one person; it’s about building a great team.”
Ashford accepted the awards with several members of the “FigFam,” including founder Jaime Dietenhofer. Jaime and his late father, Jim, started the brewery together in 2010, and shortly thereafter entered Fig Brew’s first GABF.
Firestone Walker Introduces Cal Poly Gold Craft Beer
Firestone Walker Brewing Company introduces Cal Poly Gold, the official craft beer of Cal Poly, during the Mustangs’ first 2022 home football game on Sept. 10. The beer will continue to be available at all Cal Poly Athletics events where concessions are sold.
The beer is also available in six packs and on draft throughout the year across San Luis Obispo County and into Santa Maria, as well as at Firestone Walker’s main brewery in Paso Robles.
“Cal Poly graduates have always played a vital role in the ranks of our brewing team and elsewhere in our brewery,” said brewery co-founder David Walker. “Like us, Cal Poly is passionate about the brewing sciences and craft culture, and this collaboration is the latest example of how we support each other.”
Cal Poly Gold is the latest step in a longtime relationship between Cal Poly and Firestone Walker Brewing Company, said Cal Poly Athletic Director Don Oberhelman.
“Firestone Walker is one of the best breweries in the world and has hired many Cal Poly alumni and benefited directly from the university’s renown for producing graduates who are primed for success,” Oberhelman said. “It made perfect sense for us to further unite the excellence of our respective institutions to create this new beer. I am confident our fans and alumni will absolutely love Cal Poly Gold. I am very passionate about this relationship and the mutual opportunities we will enjoy with our friends at Firestone Walker, and I am excited to see how this friendship and relationship will grow to benefit our entire community.”
Cal Poly Gold is an all-malt lager brewed with noble hops. According to Firestone Walker brewmaster Matt Brynildson, Cal Poly Gold was a collaboration every step of the way, from shepherding the idea with the university to reaching a consensus among the brewing team.
“We have a myriad of Cal Poly grads on the brewing and marketing teams who had a hand in formulating and making this beer,” Brynildson said, noting that the can artwork was designed by Cal Poly alum and Firestone Walker Art Director Alyssa Hornby. “We collectively decided that this should be a light, session-able beer, in contrast to something hoppy or heavier. So, we created Cal Poly Gold as a crisp, refreshing, easy-drinking lager that’s perfect for enjoying the SLO life.”