From Our Editors
Iris Rideau was born in New Orleans, the city's famed food and drink forever defining her palate. As soon as she visited California, though, she fell in love with sunny beaches and rolling wine-country valleys. She ran several successful businesses there, helped champion the cause of affirmative action within the state, and in the '90s, headed to retirement on the 23-acre winery she'd spent her professional career slowly building. She called this haven Rideau Vineyard.
Iris, still passionate about the food of her childhood, felt that France's Rhône Valley wines best complemented the spicy Creole sauces she so loved. So, she dedicated her entire property to the production of those rare varietals, importing some second-generation Château de Beaucastel winery vines. She began growing Syrah, Mourvèdre, Roussanne, and Viognier grapes. As soon as her first bottles were ready, she invited her friends over for a series of Creole-inspired dinners that paired each dish with one of her wines. And of course, each evening was enhanced with the same traditional jazz music that seems to permeate the air in New Orleans. The experiences became wildly popular, and she expanded them to invite the public.
Even if they don't participate in the wine-and-food events, Rideau Vineyard's visitors can still sample Iris's award-winning wines in the unique tasting room—a two-story adobe built in 1884. It once served as a popular stagecoach stop and guest ranch on a famous route between Santa Ynez and Santa Barbara. Iris restored and renovated it, and the building now has historical landmark status from Santa Barbara County.
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