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Gold Medal Wine Club
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1-800-266-8888
5330 Debbie Road, Suite 200
Santa Barbara, California 93111
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Welcome to Gold Medal Wine Club. America's Leading Independent Wine Club since 1992. Celebrating 20+ Years!
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Santa Barbara Winery - Santa Barbara County


Double Gold Medal - San Francisco International Wine Competition

Santa Barbara County is home to over sixty wineries and some of the nation’s most respected and recognized wines. Yet just 34 years ago when French-Canadian born architect Pierre Lafond started Santa Barbara Winery, he found the field wide open. Not since prohibition had winemakers practiced their craft in the lush coastal valleys surrounding Santa Barbara and Santa Maria. In the early sixties, when Pierre first opened his winery, he produced his red and white Zinfandels from grapes purchased near San Luis Obispo. However, he correctly theorized the potential for premium wine made from local Santa Barbara County grapes. In 1970, after an intensive search, he purchased 105 acres in the lower Santa Ynez Valley and planted 72 acres of vines. His pioneer efforts helped to establish Santa Barbara as what is now one of the premier grape-growing and wine-producing areas of the world.

For ten years Pierre relied on a part-time vineyard manager and winemaker to keep production on track. However, by 1981, sensing the potential for drawing world-class wines from his vineyard, Lafond decided to hire a full-time winemaker. “We started to get serious,” is how Pierre characterizes his shift in strategy. He recruited a young up-and-comer from R & J. Cook Winery named Bruce McGuire to be his new winemaker. During the next few years, Bruce began to transform the winery into a recognized premium quality wine producer. He brought the latest in wine-industry technology with him. He also bought new equipment including stainless fermentation tanks and crushers, and took a hands-on, active role in the vineyard. He set his own style, his own pace and his own agenda. Since arriving at Santa Barbara Winery over twenty years ago, Bruce has consistently crafted top quality wines, earning a reputation as one of California’s most talented winemakers.

Like many winemakers, Bruce got his start in winemaking with the help of a relative. When Bruce was in high school his uncle introduced him to the hobby with the gift of a home winemaking kit. After finishing his degree in Entomology at the University of New Hampshire, Bruce decided that viticulture and winemaking were what he wanted to pursue. To learn more about the retail side of the industry, he worked for a year at a wine store in Boston and then headed west to California to tune his winemaking prowess.

While Bruce was honing his skills at UC Davis, he started working at Souverain and ended up devoting more time to practical experience than the classroom. After moving on to an apprenticeship at Field Stone Winery, Bruce decided to pursue winemaking full time, by-passing the route of additional academia. “At Davis I was sitting in microbiology classes going over things I had already learned at New Hampshire” Bruce explained. “I was learning a lot more at Field Stone, so I decided to commit to them full-time.” Bruce’s strategy paid off and soon he had gained enough experience to land a position as winemaker for R&J Cook in the Sacramento Delta. While there, Bruce learned everything from how to handle Petite Sirah and Cabernet to forklift mechanics.

In 1981, Pierre Lafond started looking for a full-time winemaker and learned from a winemaking consultant of a promising young winemaker named Bruce McGuire. Pierre took the recommendation and offered Bruce the job. After a long hot summer spent in the Sacramento Delta, Bruce was ready for a change and came down to meet with Pierre. Bruce recalls, “It was one of those beautiful, classic fall days in Santa Barbara. The ocean was glistening and I could see the Channel Islands clearly off the coast. I was hooked.”

Bruce brought a very hands-on management style to Santa Barbara Winery that was much needed and appreciated. When he arrived, the equipment and vineyard management techniques were in need of an overhaul. It didn’t take Bruce long to roll-up his sleeves and jump into his new role. Today Bruce still takes a very active part in all things related to the winery. Often he can be found on the forklift, tinkering with the bottling equipment, or out in the field consulting with the winery’s viticulturist, Jeff Newton.

This year marks Bruce’s 21st year at Santa Barbara Winery and a lot has changed since he first arrived. The vineyards have reached a wonderful maturity and the winery has been transformed into one of California’s finest producers of premium varietals.



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