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Gold Medal Wine Club
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Santa Barbara, California 93111
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Sobriquet Winery - Santa Ynez Valley

Two brothers and their desire to produce wines of intense varietal character

Two Brothers, best friends, and business partners, Chris and Greg Stanton are two small-town guys that fell in love with the wine industry at an early age. They grew up in Napa Valley, and although their family had never ventured into the wine business, the boys were inspired by Napa’s fruitful opportunities. They caught the wine bug while they were just teenagers, before even graduating from high school.

Chris, perhaps the bigger oenophile of the two, found his way into the industry when he was just 14 years old. He started out riding his bicycle from vineyard to vineyard, helping pick grapes for extra money. Once he was in high school, Chris spent his summers working the bottling line at various wineries and began making valuable connections with local winemakers and winery owners. He knew without a doubt his future lay in wine.

In 1981, one of those connections paid off and St. Clement Vineyard’s winemaker, Dennis Johns, took Chris under his wing. This lead to a ten year stint at the distinguished Napa Valley winery, where he learned the in’s and out’s of harvest, winemaking, viticulture, and production. During his time there, Chris worked his way into the positions of assistant winemaker and vineyard manager. It was at St. Clement that Chris fell in love with the art of winemaking and it has been his passion ever since.

In 1991, Chris moved north to Middletown in Lake County, California where he took an assistant winemaker position with Guenoc Winery. He even worked for a short time at the original location of industry giant, Kendell-Jackson. Chris realized immediately he preferred working on the smaller scale and has since only worked for small family wineries that cap out at 7,000 cases per year or less. Chris’s next position is what earned him a reputation among the big leagues in California winemaking. He took the role as winemaker for Glen Ellen’s Mayo Family Winery, and pulled in a slew of 90+ point scores from the national wine press for the winery’s esteemed portfolio of wines. Chris Stanton quickly became a well-known figure in Glen Ellen, and others were beginning to take notice. Santa Barbara County’s Koehler Winery had been keeping their eye on Chris Stanton’s climb to the top, and when the time came to find a new winemaker in 2005, they knew Chris was the man for the job. Koehler Winery offered him the head winemaking position and Chris had no hesitation accepting the job and moving down to the Central Coast, the location he still calls home today.

“I like it down here. It kind of reminds me of Napa when I was growing up,” Chris recently explained. Just three years later, he teamed up with his brother Greg to start Sobriquet Winery. “We made the first Sobriquet vintage in 2008 at Terravant, a custom crush winemaking facility in Santa Ynez,” Chris stated. “It was a great opportunity to make wine, and my brother and I had been wanting to get into the wine business together for years. Greg decided to take over the sales side of our winery, and although he had never sold a bottle of wine in his life, he had lots of connections in Sonoma and knew a lot of the right people.”

It didn’t hurt that Chris’s name still carried weight up north with his successful tenure at Mayo Family Vineyards. Greg continues to live in Sonoma and sells Sobriquet wines to select wine shops and restaurants in the area. Chris’s wife, Christina, also holds a role at the family winery, overseeing the bookkeeping duties and local sales of Sobriquet wines.

Sobriquet Winery (pronounced soh-bruh-kay) is different from many winery businesses in that it doesn’t call one appellation home. Rather, the Stanton brothers source grapes from several different appellations in California and seek out those special vineyard sites that have the terroir and climate to express intense varietal character and purity. With numerous 93, 92, 91 and 90 point ratings since Sobriquet’s inception, it seems they are doing something right.

The name of the winery, by the way, was Chris’s wife’s idea. She was looking for a nickname and came across the word Sobriquet - the French word ‘nickname,’ and also another word for ‘regions.’ Since the winery represents multiple regions, it seemed like just the right fit. Today, Sobriquet Winery produces just four wines - Pinot Noir, Syrah, Grenache, and Chardonnay - each in an exquisite style, with high praise and stellar ratings. Chris finishes, “With Sobriquet, I’m striving for the best of California.” It’s easy to see he’s well on his way.

  1. Sobriquet
    2010 Pinot Noir
    Central Coast


    94 Points - Editor's Choice
    id: 1254
    Pinot Noir

Chris Stanton, a Napa Valley native.

A Napa Valley native and wine enthusiast since his youth, Chris Stanton worked his way up the winemaking ladder with stints at St. Clement (north of St. Helena), Guenoc in Lake County, Mayo Family Winery in Glen Ellen (Sonoma Valley), and Koehler Winery in Los Olivos (Santa Barbara County). He is also currently the winemaker at Blackjack Ranch Vineyards in Solvang. He holds over 30 years of winemaking experience in California and his wines have drawn huge praise and ratings from competitions all over the country.
At Sobriquet Winery, Stanton showcases his artisan winemaking style through a collection of luxury-premium wines he’s produced from some of the top appellations in California. His wines are show intense varietal character and purity, and since the beginning, they’ve been produced in a passionate style that favors art over science, palate and instinct over chemistry, and hand-craftsmanship over mass production. He’s one of the top winemakers on the Central Coast today.

About The Region

Sobriquet’s 2010 Pinot Noir comes from Santa Maria Valley’s Sierra Madre Vineyard where numerous award-winning Pinot Noirs have called home over the past 30 years. Originally planted in 1971 by Santa Barbara Ken Brown, the Sierra Madre Vineyard is home to 175 acres of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc. Because of Pinot Noir’s extreme clone sensitivity, Brown was meticulous in planting a wide range of desirable rootstocks and clones to create a winemaker’s dream selection of combinations. This allows wineries such as Sobriquet the opportunity to work with various Pinot Noir clone combinations to create a finished wine that is completely their own in style. The Santa Maria Valley is an exceptionally cool growing region due to its direct influence from the nearby Pacific Ocean (just 15 miles away). It also benefits from being one of California’s rare west-east valleys, allowing for ample flow of fog and cool breezes to be funneled in straight off the ocean. This encourages grapes to slowly ripen over a long growing season which helps the development of structure and flavor intensity.

Fried Green Tomatoes Topped with Warm Shelled Crab


Fried Green Tomatoes:
6 medium green tomatoes
1 quart buttermilk
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs, beaten with 2 tsp. water
2 cups olive oil
4 cups bread crumbs
2 cups flour
2 cups vegetable oil

For the Sauce:
1/2 tsp. tarragon
2 cups water
2 cloves garlic, minced
Sauce, continued:
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 jalapeno pepper
2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. old bay seasoning
1/2 cup cream
1 Tbs. dried basil
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 tsp. dried dill
2 cups catsup
2 Tbs. chopped capers


For the Fried Green Tomatoes: Trim off the top and the bottom of each tomato. Cut each tomato in half to make two equal slices, about 1 inch thick. Place twelve tomato slices in a glass or stainless steel pan. Salt the tomatoes both sides, and pour buttermilk over each slice. Make sure both sides are coated. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Remove the tomatoes from the refrigerator, drain and pat dry. Coat each side of the tomato slices with flour, then each side with the egg mixture (egg and water), and then heavily coat each side with bread crumbs. Now fry four tomato slices at a time in the oil over a medium heat until they are golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Keep warm until presentation. Salt and pepper to taste.

For the Sauce: Saute the onion, garlic, celery, and peppers in olive oil until soft. Add catsup, mustard, water, herbs, old bay seasoning, and Worcestershire. Simmer this mixture for about 1 hour. Add capers, mayonnaise and cream. Spoon sauce over the warm fried green tomatoes. Top with fresh shelled crab.