Even while running the Studio Grill in Hollywood, Ardison Phillips committed himself as an artist and a winemaker as well as a restaurateur. He bolstered the grill's menu by adding his own private-label wines in 1976, and their popularity with diners inspired him to found McKeon-Phillips Winery in 1982.
The winery continues to embrace Ardison's legacy by crafting single-vineyard wines with the same dedication to approachable New- and Old-World flavors. Although the selection emphasizes Bordeaux-style wines, including single-varietal bottlings of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, the current winemaker also experiments with robust Nebbiolo and silken Pinot Noir.
Besides creating crowd-pleasing wine, the staff also pays homage to Ardison Phillips's work as an artist by adorning each bottle with vibrant, impressionistic labels. The tasting room even functions as a gallery, featuring a rotating display of works by local artists and extraterrestrial postmodernists.
At tastings held daily from June to August, Jaffurs Wine Cellars tempts oenophilic tongues with five Rhône varietals. Growers in the fertile Santa Ynez, Santa Rita, and Santa Maria wine regions carefully cultivate the future intoxicants on small lots, observing high farming standards and ancient Bacchanalian rituals. With a limited production of about 5,000 cases each year, Jaffurs' winemakers can thoroughly inspect each individual grape, screening out overripe fruitlets and anthropomorphized raisins. The results are red and petite syrahs, grenache, and mourvedre wines that play pleasantly atonal chords of fruit across the palate, an aromatic white viognier with floral and peach intonations, and other varieties that croon seductive verses to receptive taste buds. A private tasting appointment, necessary for groups of more than six, may incur an additional fee ($5/person).
According to the clever folks at Giessinger Winery, the best wine is the one you like. Following that logic, they invite visitors into tasting rooms to sample the winery's many varieties and figure out which most agrees with their palate. Bestowed with the honor of Santa Barbara's Best Winery and Best Tasting Room in Santa Barbara by the U.S. Commerce Association in 2013, resident winemaker Edouard Giessinger and his associate Justin Tatum also lead groups through the nuanced process of crafting wines during comprehensive classes, wherein visitors can learn how wine is made, visit the production facility, and even taste wines.
The Saucelito Canyon story begins in 1880, when three acres of Zinfandel vines were planted in the rugged terrain of the upper Arroyo Grande Valley on California’s Central Coast.
A new chapter was written a century later, when Bill Greenough painstakingly restored the abandoned old vineyard in 1974.
In 1996, around the time his daughter Destiny was born, David Hunt began scouring Oregon, Washington, and California's wine regions for a place his dream vineyard could call home. He and his family settled on a 550-acre site in Paso Robles, which they christened Destiny's Vineyard, and opened Hunt Cellars winery.
And now, the small operation churns out barrel-aged pours that have won numerous awards and are available at prestigious restaurants, such as Ruth?s Chris Steakhouse and Morton's. What is particularly impressive about Hunt's success is that he's legally blind and must rely on his sense of taste and smell to figure out exactly how to blend his flavors together, according to the Sacramento Bee.
Inside his colonial-style tasting room, which features a 1,200-foot veranda, he pairs his beloved wines with his other love in life?music. Visitors here can enjoy a glass of wine while listening to Hunt tickling the ivories on the tasting room's white baby grand piano, which he plays during winemakers' dinners. Forbes even dubbed him the "Diddy of Winemakers" because like the music mogul, David blends his music with his alcohol brand, and loves changing his name.