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Gold Medal Wine Club
5330 Debbie Road, Suite 200
Santa Barbara, California 93111
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Dierberg Estate Vineyard - Santa Maria Valley

Top 100 Wines of 2008 - 93 Points, Wine Spectator

People who know Jim Dierberg are aware that he seldom puts off the things in which he really believes. Jim asked his wife Mary to marry him on their first date. Later on, the St. Louis native and his wife went to a wine festival in the small town of Hermann, Missouri. The Dierbergs enjoyed themselves immensely and two days later, Dierberg bought the bank in the town. One thing led to another and an old brewery/winery that had been closed since Prohibition came to the couple’s attention. It was called Hermannhof and in 1974, the Dierbergs bought the property. It took them two years of renovations before the winery again began producing wines that have continued to attract visitors to this day. While Jim Dierberg continued his adventuresome career in private banking, he also became enamored with the wines of California and eventually set about to find a location to continue his efforts in the wine industry. In 1996, after checking out Napa Valley (much too crowded) and Sonoma County (a little less so), Dierberg visited the Santa Ynez Valley and found the exact spot and conditions he had been searching for.

“The property was located in the eastern end of the Santa Ynez Valley and is touched by the San Rafael Mountains that loom above it,” Dierberg related. “The acreage was exactly what we were looking for and its proximity to the ocean made it perfect for us to be able to grow Burgundian grapes that I was really interested in growing.”

The vast tract consists of around 4,000 acres, of which a modest 236 are currently under vine. The area is actually called Happy Canyon and who can ask for any place with a better name for growing? The newly completed winery actually hosts a pair of wineries, Dierberg Estate and also Dierberg’s Star Lane Vineyard.

While both wineries are owned by the Dierbergs, their direction is 180 degrees apart.
Dierberg Estate Vineyard utilizes the Central Coast's cool-weather terroir and is exemplified by the two estate vineyards that provide Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for Dierberg Estate. The original Dierberg Vineyard in Santa Maria was planted in 1997 and the newer Drum Canyon vineyard that is located farther to the south in the Santa Rita Hills came a short while later. In both vineyards, cooling Pacific Ocean fog and breezes keep this sunny corner of California far cooler than one would imagine. This phenomenon favors crisp acidity and gentle ripening in classic Burgundian Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes.

“This combination of soils and weather is near perfect for the two varietals involved,” Dierberg informed. “A number of wineries in the area have had excellent success and I knew the place could eventually produce great Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.”

If the initial results are anything to judge by, it would seem that Dierberg is most correct about his assessment. Dierberg Estate Vineyard has already captured significant scores and awards with its initial releases and seems poised for many more in the future.

With its incredible new winery completed, Dierberg Estate and Star Lane become the jewels of the Santa Ynez Valley wine colony. The place is a page from classic France, and is carved into the sandstone at the base of a 1500-foot-high ridge. It is also modeled on a French-inspired design built around a classically conceived courtyard framed by stone windows and arches.

Dierberg Estate Vineyard’s initial release came in October of 2007. The winery will produce around 8,000 cases this year and for the immediate future. Every drop is estate bottled, a fact that Jim Dierberg is extremely proud of.

“We don’t buy a single grape from anyone else,” he revealed. “We want to be able to control our destiny and that means growing all our own grapes.”

Dierberg is content with the accolades his wines have garnered but admits that he still has a number of goals to achieve. “You are always correcting and adjusting,” he concluded. “That’s the only way to make even better wines, and making the very finest wine possible is everyone in the wine business’s ultimate goal.”

  1. Dierberg
    2005 Pinot Noir
    Central Coast
    Santa Barbara County


    Top 100 Wines
    id: 300
    Pinot Noir

Winemaker Nick de Luca

A former semi-pro mountain biker, winemaker Nick de Luca once studied international law in France and spent significant time in Italy and Spain. The European lifestyle and appreciation of fine wine led Nick to pursue his current career and ultimately abandon his law effort.

Nick got his start at Cline Cellars in Carneros, where he was named cellar master, and then spent time at such well-known wineries as Williams Selyem, Fisher, and Highfield Estate (in New Zealand).

In 2004, Nick joined the Dierberg Estate team and has since been putting his own particular stamp on the winemaking regime, especially when it comes to Pinot Noir. Nick prefers to mix traditional Burgundian techniques with those of Bordeaux, which is unlike most of his California counterparts.

Nick is a firm believer in the ‘no recipe’ approach and with each new vintage he’s offered new challenges and opportunities that continue to keep his style and approach fresh and unique.

About The Region

Dierberg Vineyard, the estate’s original vineyard that was planted in 1997, is situated atop a sandy loam mesa above the South Bank of the Santa Maria River. The 160-acre ranch features a series of gently rolling hills and soils that are uncharacteristic of the growing area. The higher loam content and slightly heavier texture of our soil tends to produce Pinot Noirs that are more powerful in structure and more savory in flavor-profile than is typical for the Santa Maria Valley.

The cooling Pacific Ocean fog and breezes keep this sunny corner of California far cooler than one would imagine. This paradox favors crisp acidity and gentle ripening in classic Burgundian grapes.

The Dierbergs have planted the ranch to a number of different Burgundian grape clones, which provides a wide palate of colors and textures from which the estate can create the most appealing blends possible of their estate Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs.

Lamb Chops with Pomegranate Relish


2 large oranges, segmented
1/3 cup red wine (such as Pinot Noir)
1/4 cup unsweetened pomegranate concentrate (found at gourmet markets)
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
16 baby lamb chops, frenched (ask your butcher to do it), fat trimmed to 1/8 inch
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1/3 cup finely diced Vidalia onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice


Cut orange segments into 1/8-inch pieces over a bowl; collect juice (about 1/3 cup); set orange segments aside. Whisk orange juice, wine, pomegranate concentrate, 2 tablespoons of honey, oil, garlic and oregano in a bowl. Arrange lamb in a 9" x 13" baking dish; pour marinade over lamb. Cover; chill 1 to 2 hours, turning once. Combine cut orange, pomegranate seeds, onion, mint, remaining 1 tablespoon honey and lemon juice in a bowl. Toss gently; chill. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high. Remove lamb from dish, pat dry and grill to desired doneness (3 minutes per side for medium-rare). Let rest 1 to 2 minutes and serve.

Wild Mushroom Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Fontina, and Rosemary


7 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
3 onions, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise (about 6 cups)
2 pounds assorted wild mushrooms (such as crimini, oyster, chanterelle, and stemmed shiitake), cut into bite-size pieces
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons minced shallot (about 1 medium)
2 cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
Cornmeal (for dusting)
Garlic oil
3 cups grated Fontina cheese (about 10 ounces)


Melt 3 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until golden, about 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter with 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil in another heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, garlic, and shallot. Sauté 4 minutes. Add wine and simmer until almost all liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently, about 13 minutes. Add rosemary; season with salt and pepper.
Position rack in bottom third of oven. Place heavy 17x11-inch baking sheet on rack (invert if rimmed). Preheat oven to 500°F at least 30 minutes before baking. Roll out 2 dough disks on lightly floured surface to 8-inch rounds, allowing dough to rest a few minutes if it springs back. Sprinkle another baking sheet (invert if rimmed) with cornmeal. Transfer 1 dough round to second baking sheet. Lightly brush dough with garlic oil. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese. Scatter 2 1/2 tablespoons onions over cheese. Scatter 1/2 cup mushrooms over onions. Sprinkle with salt.
Position baking sheet with pizza at far edge of 1 side of hot baking sheet. Tilt sheet and pull back slowly, allowing pizza to slide onto hot sheet. Repeat with second dough disk, garlic oil, cheese, onions, mushrooms, and salt, and slide second pizza onto second half of hot baking sheet. Bake pizzas 6 minutes. Rotate pizzas half a turn. Bake until crust is deep brown, about 6 minutes longer. Using large spatula, carefully transfer pizzas to cutting board. Let rest 1 minute. Slice into wedges and serve. Repeat with remaining ingredients.