Babcock Winery & Vineyards
Sta. Rita Hills AVA
Setting the bar for revolutionary farming practices and world-class winemaking
Family owned and operated since its inception in 1978, Babcock Winery and Vineyards was established by Mona and Walter Babcock after purchasing a 110 acre property in the western Santa Ynez Valley, in a region now known as Sta. Rita Hills. Since the beginning, the winery has focused on terroir-driven, expressively unique wines, and under the winemaking guidance of Bryan Babcock (son of Mona and Walter), Babcock Winery and Vineyards has become one of the most reputable and iconic wineries in the area.
Prior to starting Babcock Winery, Mona and Walter had dabbled in a number of different industries. In addition to being the proprietors of the legendary Walt's Wharf restaurant in Seal Beach, California, Walt had also been a dentist and commercial fisherman. In need of a retreat, the Babcocks purchased the Sta. Rita Hills property in the late 1970's, and planted a modest 20-acre vineyard there. Their fruit was of excellent quality and by 1983, they were supplying grapes to notable nearby winemakers including Rick Longoria, Fred Brander, and Jim Clendenen. Prompted by the promising results, the Babcocks decided to start a winery of their own.
Meanwhile, Bryan Babcock was taking graduate enology classes at UC Davis and joined his parents in time for the first commercial harvest in 1984. His first wine for Babcock Winery and Vineyards (a 1984 Estate Sauvignon Blanc) was awarded Gold Medals at both the LA and Orange County Fairs. Bryan has perfected his craft over the past thirty years and is now one of the brightest stars in the field of American winemaking.
Today's Babcock Winery and Vineyards is best known for its Pinot Noirs, which comes as no surprise considering the winery's location in the heart of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation - well known by wine aficionados to be among the greatest regions in the world for the growing of Pinot Noir. Babcock is also very successful with its Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon, some of which Bryan Babcock sources fruit for from select nearby estates. The Babcock Vineyard has also expanded over the years to its current size of 65 acres.
For visitors to the Sta. Rita Hills, a trip to Babcock's exquisite tasting room is a must. Easily one of the most eclectic and mesmerizing tasting rooms in the region, the space is a large hangar size "retro-rock and roll" venue with a vintage, mid-century modern vibe. The unique setting offers a wine tasting experience unlike any other in the region.
We hope you enjoy this feature from Babcock Vineyards and Winery. Cheers!
Map of the area
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
Whenever you begin a new discipline, your perspective is, by necessity, fairly limited. The 2014 Top Cream and 2014 The Limit Chardonnays are the result of 30 years of my practicing the craft of winemaking, and they are wines that I could not have conceived of on day one in 1984. Back then, I shared my laboratory, which was a pH meter and a bucket, with cases of Gewürztraminer and Riesling that were stacked to the ceiling in a 400 square foot "cellar". Yes, we also had a few acres of Chardonnay, which my dad reluctantly planted after being told "Lompoc is too cold for that grape." It was not any one moment that served as my epiphany, rather it was a slow, steady climb up the ladder of wisdom, until finally my colleagues and I were able to conclude that Chardonnay was going to take on epic proportions in the Sta. Rita Hills. We now know, Lompoc is not too cold for Chardonnay.
The 2014 vintage was very kind to me with its delivery of some of the most amazing Chardonnay I have ever seen. The mature vines in the Top Cream and The Limit sections of my vineyard produced a mesmerizing wine, crafted in a full Burgundian style incorporating barrel fermentation in about 40% new French Oak, with a full malolactic fermentation and nine months of lees contact that followed. A creamy style of Chardonnay that harmonizes layers of fruit and oak. In an effort to preserve as much nuance as possible we have worked out the approach and the equipment that is needed to capture this wine without filtration. It is winemaking that is sublimely maniacal, but in the end, always worth it. While the winemaking in this case is all about expansion, it is a logical approach that is suggested by the fruit, and the soil and climate in which it is grown.
Bryan Babcock - Winemaker
Bryan Babcock has been the winemaker for his family's winery since the inaugural vintage in 1984. Since then, Bryan has won multiple winemaking awards including being named one of the "Ten Best Winemakers of the Year" by the Los Angeles Times, the "Most Courageous Winemaker of the Year" by the Los Angeles Times, and one of the "Top Ten Small Production Winemakers in the World" by the James Beard Foundation.
It is Bryan's personal commitment to excellence, his relentless experimentation, and his aesthetic that truly set him apart and make him the great winemaker he is today. Bryan is also passionate about growing wine grapes and his revolutionary farming techniques have opened a whole new realm of possibilities in the Babcock Vineyard.