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    The other day some friends and I went up to Lompoc.

    Now I know what you’re thinking… Lompoc?, but they only have a prison and a military base. I went there for neither. I went for the relatively new phenomena, the Lompoc Wine Ghetto. As bizarre as it may seem, a group of wineries opened tasting rooms in a warehouse complex that enables a visitor to taste a plethora, a veritable cornucopia of wine, if you will.

    On our way we stopped off in Santa Barbara, and had a few sips of wine from the winery with the same name (Santa Barbara Winery). Then we ate at one of my favorite Mexican restaurants north of the border, Los Agaves. The food there is so good that I wouldn’t mind the two hour drive just for the food.

    After we left I noticed a cherry stand on the side of the road. We didn’t stop, but it reminded me of a story…

    One beautifully sunny day I was walking from the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) in San Francisco to my apartment two blocks away. I passed a few small, Mexican, grocery, stores that were selling cherries on the cheap tip. When I saw one that was offering a 3lb. carton for $3 I couldn’t refuse. These cherries weren’t just inexpensive, they were gorgeous. If they tasted anything like they looked I was in for a treat.

    I arrived at my destination, cherries in tow, and climbed the four stories worth of stairs to my domicile’s door. Immediately upon entry I set the container down, pried off the plastic lid, and went to town on a handful of the deliciousnesses (totally a word) that I had procured. When I came up for air I realized that I couldn’t possibly even put a dent in the vast reservoir that lay before me.

    I gazed into the cherry abyss, and lost my mind for a while. I drifted into the clouds of the unknown and lighted atop a particularly fluffy cloud. There was a man in a white bathrobe smoking a pipe while sitting in a fluffy cloud chair. He asked me what I planned to do with all the cherries. I was perplexed at the situation I had found myself in … 3lbs. of cherries and nothing to do with them. Suddenly I had an epiphany, a cherry cobbler! I nearly shouted this to the dude with the pipe. He gave me a nod and said, “Far out man”.

    I reappeared in my apartment the moment the dude had spoken. It was a glorious day in San Francisco, lots of sun, warm weather, a cool breeze… I decided to suntan on the roof while I pitted 3lbs. of cherries.

    I went up to the roof, and I set up a TV tray table with a bowl, a paring knife, and all those cherries. I stripped down to my boxer briefs, and started deseeding the cherries one by one.

    When I finished my hands were covered with thick cherry blood. I didn’t want to get blood (cherry or otherwise) on my clothes, so I grabbed the paring knife and walked down the spiral staircase to my apartment. Just as I reached the sink I heard a noise. I turned around, and there was my new roommate whom I had yet to meet.

    I was holding my hands in the air with cherry blood dripping dow1n my arms and off of my elbows. I let the bloody knife fall into the sink with a clank while standing there in my boxer briefs. Her eyes were wide, and I just stood there shaking my head saying, “It’s not what it looks like!”

    It was not exactly the best first impression I could’ve given, but it caused a lot of laughter later on.

    As I recovered from the convenient, cherry, anecdotal, memory fog, it dawned on me that we were now in Lompoc.

    Yay for wine time!

    The first tasting room was Brewer-Clifton. They opened just for us (it helps to have wine cred), and tasted us on about a dozen beautiful wines.

    After Brewer-Clifton we sauntered off into the Flying Goat Cellars’ tasting room, and I’ll be a rabid bunny if those wines weren’t fantastic.


    All of the Pinot Noirs were spot on and the bubbles… oh the bubbles were exquisite.


    The sparkling wines are made using the traditional method you would find in Champagne, France. From beginning to end with the bottling, riddling, disgorging, labeling, and even the wax seal, they are handcrafted labors of love.

    We were delighted to taste the 2013 Rose and the 2012 Crémant, both of which were bangin’.

    There were three Pinots that we tried that I looooved, the 2011 Rancho Santa Rosa, the 2011 Dierberg, and the 2919 Rio Vista Vineyard (single 2A clone). I’ve included the winemaker’s tasting notes at the bottom of the page.


    The two responsible for this wine endeavor are Kate Griffith and Norm Yost. Wonderful people, they came in just to introduce us to their wonderful wines. Norm makes the wine and his wife Kate makes it happen.

    The Flying Goat name originated because of two pygmy goats that did all manner of acrobatic jumps off of the roof of a small shed. Cuuuuute.

    We hauled out of Flying Goat, went to a couple more places, and then headed back home. However, we stopped off at Brent’s Deli in Thousand Oaks just off the 101, for the best pastrami sandwich I’ve ever had. Holy oh my good lord almighty, it was a-mazing.

    Damn, now I want one! The pastrami, oh it calls to meeeeeeeee.


    Winemaker’s tasting notes:


    2013 Goat Bubbles Rosé, Solomon Hills Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley AVA

    Released just in time for Valentine’s Day, this is our “sweet tart for your sweetheart!” Ripe peach in color, your palate will delight in the tangy acidity of red raspberry and strawberry. Enjoy the aromas of pink grapefruit, dried apricot and wildflower honey on your nose. Pair with salmon, Lamb Chopper sheep cheese, crème brûlée, pork loin with apricot glaze, apricot tart or green salad with pomegranate and persimmon.

    2012 Crémant, Sierra Madre Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley

    The bubbles are like a Texan tornedo! This vintage of Crémant reveals white grapefruit and Asian pear on the nose with a hint of peach. The youthful, crisp wine has refreshing acids and subtle minerality on the palate, with refreshing flavors of honeydew. We recommend it for a summertime picnic or Sunday brunch. Also pairs nicely with spicy Thai food, sushi, mahi-mahi with chutney or mild cheese plate.

    2011 Pinot Noir, Rancho Santa Rosa Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills AVA

    Think Film Noir, such as “The Postman Always Rings Twice.” Dark garnet velvet in color and texture, the alluring nose reveals smoke, cocoa, dark plum, blueberries and spice. The front palate displays jammy boysenberry and blackberry, allspice and cinnamon, finishing with hints of vanilla bean. Pair with Kalua pig and apple, Floriano’s spicy sausage, BBQ beef ribs or chocolate fondue. Great aging potential!


    2011 Pinot Noir Dierberg Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley AVA

    The 2011 vintage is textbook Dierberg! It is a gorgeous red garnet color with violet hue. Black cherry aromas first delight the senses with a swirl. Lush juicy fruit dances down the palate effortlessly.  Hints of smoke, bacon and leather, typical of the earthy flavors of Santa Maria Valley AVA, are also revealed on the palate. We recommend pairing with gamey meats, such as smoke venison and boar, or lamb. Chocolate torte and chocolate covered expresso beans would also complement this wine.


    2010 Pinot Noir, Rio Vista Vineyard Clone 2A, Sta. Rita Hills AVA

    Our shy teenager has evolved into Mrs. Robinson. This vintage of 2A offers a garnet color with the spicy characteristics of ground Jamaican Blue coffee on the nose. Blue fruit and tannins coat the palate with a smooth transition at the finish. Enjoy the full bodied acidity with your favorite heavy proteins, as this is a more structured wine. It’s also delicious with mushrooms stuffed with goat cheese, grilled vegetables, and flatbread with caramelized shallots, goat cheese and chanterelles. Desserts include blueberry compote or tart or bittersweet chocolate.






    Check this out…

    We also stopped at Stolpman and I got my hands on a bottle of Sangiovese made in the Carbonic Maceration method. Woah!

    That’s about as common as a Unicorn and Manticore baby.




    Au revoir!








    P.s.s. Now that I think of it, I did find a real bloody knife when I was eight. First time I was in a newspaper, and definitely not the last.