Santa Barbara County
Dang! We sold out of Rosé so quickly this year we didn’t even have any for the first day of summer! But fear not, here is a great substitute: Dry Riesling. I know you are thinking Liebfraumilch when I talk about Riesling, but perish that thought. Dry Riesling is different, it’s refreshing, it’s food friendly, it’s the perfect summer sipper, even better (can’t be!) than Rosé! Check it out!
Kick On Ranch turns out to be an ideal spot for Riesling. Located in the Los Alamos Valley, one of the three east-west valleys of northern Santa Barbara County, and like Santa Maria Valley and western Santa Ynez Valley there are no mountains blocking the Pacific’s unrelentingly cool breezes. And this fact sets the stage for moderate temperatures during the summer months. Travel east in the same valleys and the ocean influence decreases and the temps jump up.
So Riesling at Kick On ripens slowly and is always one of the last vineyards we harvest each year. Sugar accumulation is slow and only in warm 2009 did we feel we had to harvest because of fears of it getting out of control. The vineyard is not much to look at, it grows on pure sand, dirty grey sand–the type I remember from going to the beach in Oxnard, California when I was a kid. But that’s good too, because sand is terribly poor in nutrients and the vines struggle and struggling vines make for good wine.
The Ojai Valley is also an east-west valley, but by the time you get there the coastline is also east-west, so the ocean influence is well blocked by lots of mountains. Thus, it’s hot here in the summer, and back in the 90’s I found myself drinking lots of dry Rieslings from Austria and a few from Germany as well to counteract the heat. When done right dry Riesling is a fabulous thing to sip on when the evenings are warm, and they are wonderfully versatile with food.
I got the idea that it would be fun to make dry Riesling from northern Santa Barbara County. When I started out in the wine biz I met an old timer who thought the Los Alamos area was perfect for Riesling, but unfortunately the marketplace wasn’t interested and most of it got grafted over to other varieties. So I went driving around looking for a lost Riesling vineyard and bumped into Kick On Ranch in 2007. The rest is history and even our first one from that year is still drinking well.
It’s all barrel fermented and barrel aged in old 228 liter barrels at a cold temperature. Non-malo-lactic, and bottled in the late spring.
Blend: 100% Riesling | Alc: 13.0% | Vinification: Barrel Fermented in Neutral French Oak | Barrel Aging: 13 Months | Total Production: 475 cases
Antonio Galloni’s Vinous
“The 2014 Riesling Kick On Ranch is one of the most distinctive wines in the range. Sweet floral and orchard fruit notes make a strong first impression. The 2014 is lifted, delicate and very nicely perfumed throughout. The bright, acid-driven finish begs for food. As good as the 2014 is, I find it a touch lean, even if it is showing better than it did a year ago, when it had just been bottled.” – AG