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Westerly Wines


Bordeaux-style varietals from diverse, top quality vineyards

Most winery owners develop an interest in wine at an early age through tasting and exposure to fine wines. Many plan for several years until finally making the step and entering into the wine business.

Not so with Roger Bower, 55, the owner of this month’s Gold Series Wine Club selection from Bower’s Westerly Wines.

Bower is a native of Topeka, KS, who spent most of his business life around the oil business in Texas. Not that he was a driller or the like, but rather he was the owner and developer of a fire retardant product that was used to extinguish oil field fires.

The product was called Chemguard and was responsible for putting out numerous large fires including the Kuwaiti fires that were set by Iraqi engineers under the orders of the infamous Saddam Hussein.

Bower sold Chemguard and began looking for other venues to pursue. His parents lived in Newport Beach, CA and his daughter Rachel attended Santa Barbara City College.

“I considered a number of alternatives,” confessed Bower, “and I decided it was time for me to become involved in something located in California.” That something turned out to be an incredible parcel of land (some 103 acres) located on what was the old Westerly Stud Farm of thoroughbred horse fame. The 4,000-acre farm had been broken up into smaller parcels and still contained a number of horse–oriented farm operations. Thoroughbred horses, it turned out, were also on Bowers short list of future projects.

The new property also contained an existing winery (formerly Cimarone) along with some thirty-plus acres of varietals. Since he conceded he knew very little about wine or the wine business, Roger Bower attacked the problem in his own inimitable way.

“I began putting together a top flight management team that could change the course of the existing winery,” Bower added. “I managed to induce winemaker Adam Henkel to join our team along with wine industry veteran Michael Young. Young is an expert in wine sales and marketing and a perfect fit for our company. Finally, we hired Juve Buenrostro to manage our vineyards. He is considered an expert in clonal selections and Bordeaux varietal canopy management.”

Bower also set out to learn everything he could about his property that sits in the Crown Point locale (also the location of Bower’s home) of the Happy Canyon AVA. He found that the temperatures changed dramatically as you drove inland from the ocean. “In only 11 miles, the temperature can change 20 to 30 degrees. The experts told me that this sort of climate favors Bordeaux varietals over those of Burgundy, so we acted accordingly. Every step we have taken is designed to makes us a world-class Bordeaux style-producer. And, I know in my heart that Adam Heinkel is the person that is going to make cabernet sauvignon the most famous grape in Santa Barbara County,” he added.

The Happy Canyon growing region is exceptional in that it runs from west to east, as opposed to most other vineyards that run north to south. Its position right against the Los Padres Mountains assures that the sea breezes that originate along the coastline provide excellent circulation and a confection effect for the vineyards. The area is tiny (only three other wineries exist there) and Bower feels he possesses the correct ingredients to make his dream come true.

Westerly first saw the light of day in 1999 under old ownership. This year, 4,500 cases will be produced under Henkel’s stewardship. Future plans will be unveiled when the company’s newly planted vineyards begin producing usable fruit during the next few years.

For now, it is a distinct pleasure to introduce Westerly Wines to our Gold Series Wine Club members. We feel it won’t be the last time you hear about these marvelous wines.


  1. Westerly
    2009 Bordeaux Blend
    Westerly
    Panterra
    Santa Ynez Valley

    $22.50

    $30.00
    89 - The Tasting Panel
    id: 2364
    Gold
  2. Westerly
    2011 Sauvignon Blanc
    Westerly
    Happy Canyon
    Santa Barbara County

    $16.00

    $30.00
    90 - Wine Enthusiast
    id: 2365
    Gold

Adam Henkle - Winemaker, Napa Certified

The winemaker at Westerly Wines is Adam Henkle who is originally from Louisville, Kentucky. Henkle began his wine career at a boutique wine shop and came to California more than a decade ago to learn the art of winemaking. Widely traveled throughout Europe and Australia, Henkle has the type of credentials many winemakers dream about. In the Napa Valley he has worked at Merryvale Vineyards in St. Helena and Swanson Vineyards in Rutherford. His longest stint came at renowned Harlan Estate in Oakville, one of the highest quality wineries in California. At Harlan, Henkle was cellar master as well as the direct assistant to the winemaker. As such, he has an integral part in developing many of Harlan Estate’s award-winning wines. Henkle joined the Westerly Wines team in early 2013 and has developed the Westerly brand portfolio to its present highly respected position.

Roger Bower - Westerly Wines owner

To fully understand what makes Roger Bower tick, you need not look any further than the comments of some of his employees. Take Michael Young, a thirty-five year veteran of the wine business who joined Westerly more than a year ago. “Roger is quite unique in the wine world,” he stated firmly. “He is very creative and refreshing for the wine business. His ideas are his own and he is an out-of-the-box thinker. Most of us in the wine business have been taught to handle things in a classical sort of way. Do the same things that have worked for us in the past. But Roger is different, he’s some sort of maverick. He brings new ideas to the table that have never been tried in the wine industry. He’s determined to make us into one of the really top winery entities, not only in California, but in the entire wine world.”

Young feels that his employer has quickly grasped the inner workings of the wine business and in particular, the subtleties associated with Bordeaux varietals and cabernet sauvignon in specific. “He sees the great potential of Bordeaux varietals in an area that has never been associated with those grapes.”

Neither Young nor Adam Henkel sees Bower as a micro manager, a big plus in their opinion.

“He lets us do our thing but is quite attentive to what we are trying to accomplish,” provided Henkel. “He is first and foremost an idea man and is about as passionate about things as anyone I have ever encountered in the business. He is everyday hands on about our operation and everyone here appreciates what he contributes.”

Roger Bower is also a huge proponent of Santa Barbara County as one of California’s top producing areas. “With the weather conditions that exist throughout our county, we can grow practically any varietal you can imagine. Not all the great growing regions can say that and our best is yet to come. The growers around here are producing exceptional fruit that has become very, very fashionable up north. That really tells me something and I plan to back up my feelings with more vineyard plantings.

Bower’s daughter Rachel is taking business classes at nearby Santa Barbara City College. She spends a good deal of her time around the winery and Bower hopes to see her involved sometime down the road.
Bower also has some thoroughbreds on his property, another aspect of his incredible life that he fully enjoys.

But for now, Westerly Wines is his main interest and he pursues this endeavor with complete commitment. Roger Bower is an excellent addition to the California wine colony. His dictates and decisions will produce an excellent portfolio of wines in the near future.

About The Region

The sprawling expanse that is Santa Barbara County serves as the potential growing region for all of Westerly’s wines. While the operation centers on Crown Point in the Happy Canyon AVA, grapes are sourced from practically every other part of the huge county including the Santa Ynez and Santa Maria Valleys and the Santa Rita Hills to name a few .

“There is such a diversity of fruit available,” explained winemaker Adam Henkel, “that it would be unpractical not to make use of its convenience. To make matters even better, the quality level is amazingly high. It all adds up to being able to make some really superior wines from our local fruit.”

In recent years, Santa Barbara County has risen in statue as a primary supplier for wineries interested in producing top quality wines. Some of Santa Barbara’s fruit even makes its way up north to both Sonoma County and Napa Valley where innovative wineries and winemakers put the fruit to good usage.


Seared Filet Mignon Appetizers


Ingredients

2 large Yukon gold potatoes
2 Filet Mignon steaks
Salt & Pepper
2 Tbs. safflower cooking oil
1 Tbs. garlic, finely minced
1 Tbs. fresh tarragon, finely minced
3/4 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. loosely packed brown sugar
3 Tbs. Westerly Panterra red wine
1 Tbs. chopped chives, for garnish
Arugula, for garnish

Horseradish Cream:
3 Tbs. sour cream
1 tsp. finely grated onion
1 1/2 tsp. horseradish
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. white pepper


Instructions

Put the potatoes in a small pot and fill with water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until they can easily be pierced with a fork. Remove to colander to drain and let cool. Slice 1/4” thick, on a slight diagonal, and remove peel. Trim the filet mignon so the sides are even. Sprinkle them lightly with salt and put on a paper towel. This will draw some surface moisture off for better browning. Put the garlic, tarragon, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and pepper into a small bowl and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Measure the Westerly Panterra into another small bowl.

Skim the bottom of a cast-iron or sauté pan with a thin layer of oil. Heat until very hot but do not let the oil smoke or burn. Pat the filet mignon dry with paper towels, then sear them on all sides. They should sizzle as they cook. Turn every 20 seconds or so to brown nicely on all sides and to cook the outer 1/4 of meat. Remove to a side plate. Pour the Westerly Panterra into the hot pan - a great quantity of steam will come up. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up any meat bits left in the pan. add the soy sauce mixture and continue stirring. The sauce should bubble and reduce quickly. When it has thickened, put the steaks back in and turn to coat each side a few times with the reduced sauce. Take the pan off the heat, remove the steaks to a side plate, and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing thinly. Mix the horseradish cream ingredients together in a small bowl, taste, and adjust to taste. Spread a thin layer on each potato oval. Sprinkle with chopped chives and arugula, then top with the filet mignon slices.




Seared Branzino with Spicy Thai Vegetables


Ingredients

1/3 cup carrot, Julienne
1/3 cup celery, Julienne
1/3 cup bamboo shoot, Julienne
1/3 cup scallions, just the white part, Julienne
1 Tbs. ginger, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 green Thai chiles, sliced in half & deseeded
2 fillets of Branzino, skin left on
1/8 cup rice flour
3 Tbs. safflower cooking oil
3 Tbs. sesame oil
1 Tbs. Westerly Sauvignon Blanc
1 Tbs. soy sauce, in two parts
1 Tbs. Thai fish sauce
1Tbs. rice wine vinegar
1 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. Thai oyster sauce
Cooked white rice
1/3 cup cilantro leaves, for garnish


Instructions

Pat the fish dry with paper towels. Dust lightly with rice flour on both sides. With a sharp knife, cut three diagonal slits across the middle of the skin, leaving the edges intact. Coat the bottom of a cast iron or saute pan with a thin layer of cooking oil and heat until hot but not smoking. Place the fish, skin side down in the pan; it should sizzle.

Turn heat down to medium low and cook until the skin is browned. Flip the fish over and cook for a minute or just until it starts to firm up. It will continue cooking a bit after being removed from the heat, so do not overcook. Remove from pan and cover lightly with foil to keep warm. Skim the bottom of a sauté pan with sesame oil and sweat (cook without browning) the ginger, and garlic.

Add the wine, 1/2 Tbs. of soy sauce, fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, oyster sauce and Thai chile. Turn up the heat until the liquid is at a low boil with small bubbles and reduce by a third. Add the scallion, carrot, celery and bamboo shoot and cook briefly until slightly softened but still retaining good texture. Adjust seasoning, using the rest of the soy sauce if needed. Plate the rice, the vegetables, and the fish, pouring the sauce over the fish at the end and garnishing with fresh cilantro.



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