Santa Ynez Valley AVA
A small producer located in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley
Consilience Wines was founded just before the turn of the century by Co-owner Brett Escalera and his partner, Dr. Tom Daughters, to produce wines sourced in the Santa Ynez Valley of California.
From a limited production of only 600 cases that were released in 1999, the winery has grown to around 4,000 cases for the current calendar year.
In 2013, Bill and Jan Sanger bought out Dr. Daughters part of Consilience Wines to add the entity to their Sanger Family of Wines.
The Sangers’ backgrounds are fairly similar to that of Brett Escalera (see Spotlight Section). Bill Sanger’s parents were Italian immigrants and Jan’s were of French Canadian ancestry. Wine played an important part in the early family life of both. Extensive European travel exposed the couple to the Mediterranean lifestyle that they now enjoy. Their entry into the wine business could have been anticipated early on in their individual careers.
Bill Sanger, now a youngish 65, entered the wine business (and also the olive business) as a tribute to his grandparents, Maria and Nello.
“It was a tribute to our heritage,” Sanger began. “I was successful in a number of business endeavors and had always held the wine business in high regard. We have a home in Santa Barbara so I felt it was natural that we enter the wine business in that great and lovely city.”
Sanger started his Marianello Wines enterprise and planted vineyards and olive trees. He also hired Brett Escalera to be his winemaker.
“I was totally impressed by Brett’s work ethic and the wines he produced,” Sanger went on. “He does everything right and the proof is in the marks he receives for his wines. He has a great following for Consilience Wines and I was absolutely delighted to become a part of the operation.”
Sanger admits that growing his stable of vineyards is a major part of his plans for the future.
“We already have more than 50 acres under vine, in a number of different AVA’s,” he informed. “And there will be more to come. The Sanger Vineyard that is located in the Santa Rita Hills AVA is already a proven producer of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and supplies a good deal of the fruit for Consilience Wines. I am on the lookout for additional vineyard land and even a winery site sometime this year or next. We have made a couple of offers but nothing concrete has happened to date. I want to stick with this exciting project and even make a little money if everything comes out all right.”
Sanger intends to locate the winery in Santa Barbara County where the couple has a home.
“The Santa Barbara area is a natural for wineries and olive oil production,” Sanger added. “Santa Barbara itself is relatively close to Los Angeles and an easy drive on weekends. There is wonderful lodging available and a great assortment of wineries to visit. We hope to have ours open in the not-too-distant future. For the present, we operate a tasting room in Los Olivos that serves all our brands and also our excellent olive oil.”
Bill and Jan Sanger have saluted their individual histories in the wines and vineyards that compose Consilience Wines. Their wonderful Marianello Olive Oil was recently singled out by the authoritative Robb Report as one of the top three olive oil producers in California.
It is with great pleasure that we introduce these marvelous wines to our Gold Series members.
Brett Escalera - Co-Owner & Winemaker
Consilience Wines’ Winemaker and Co-owner Brett Escalera has worked in almost every aspect of the wine business since his involvement began in 1985. He started as a part-time cellar worker for Santa Barbara Wines and eventually was accepted into the graduate enology program at Cal State Fresno. While at school, Escalera added a second major in enology (his first major was in business administration), a minor in viticulture, and a Masters of Science in Agricultural Chemistry.
Armed with his plethora of degrees, Escalera took a job at Byron Winery & Vineyard that led to the winemaker position at well-respected Fess Parker Winery. While working at Fess Parker, the opportunity to establish Consilience Wines arose and Escalera jumped at the opportunity. He has remained as the entity’s only winemaker for the past two decades and has garnered numerous awards and accolades for his wines during his tenure.
About the Vineyard
The sprawling Santa Ynez Valley is located in Santa Barbara County and contains four American Viticultural Areas (AVA’s) that produce a large amount of highest quality grapes. More than 120 local wineries draw from these grapes and have made the Santa Ynez Valley a most important source for their fruit. A large number of wineries from Sonoma County and Napa Valley also utilize grapes from this copious source.
Practically every varietal can be found in the valley’s rich soils and more than 43,000 acres are currently listed as under vine. The valley is formed by the Purisima Hills and San Rafael Mountains to the north and the Santa Ynez Mountains to the south. The Sanger Estate Vineyards that provide most of Consilience Wines’ fruit are located at the eastern end of the valley and consist of two individual plantings that supply the Sanger Estate Family of wines.
A smaller seven acre site in the prestigious Santa Rita AVA provides exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for Consilience Wines.
More about Brett Escalera
Fifty-five year old Co-owner and Winemaker Brett Escalera is a Central Coast native with a most interesting storyline. Both of Escalera’s grandfathers were immigrants to this country, one from Spain and the other from Italy. Wine was an important ingredient at all family gatherings and Escalera developed a lasting respect for the grape at an early age.
When he attended college at Cal State Chico and studied business administration, Brett Escalera was introduced to Dr. Marian Baldy, the legendary wine instructor at the school. Dr. Baldy was also the author of The University Wine Course and her courses offered Brett Escalera a unique insight into the unique world of wines.
“I took several classes from her and really became interested in wine,” he related. “The more I was taught, the more I became fascinated with the business. I also began to realize that if I was going to ever get into the business, it was important that I go back to school and approach it
from the right direction.”
Escalera did just that and returned to academia (see Winemaker section) where he was wildly successful in his efforts. He immediately garnered a job with a well-known winery (Byron Winery & Vineyard) and slowly climbed the ladder to become a full-fledged winemaker.
“When I was at Fess Parker Winery (for a ten year stint) I began to have thoughts of making my own wines, and possibly having my own winery. It was always in the back of my mind and the public reception of Fess Parker Winery’s wines made me make the final step,“ he added.
With the help of a local doctor, Consilience Wines became Brett Escalera’s prime calling. His wines developed a fierce following in California and accolades and awards flowed in.
The name he had chosen for his project was an extension of his multi-faceted list of degrees and academic accomplishments.
“Consilience is an English word,” he explained further. “It was something that was always tied to the sciences. It involved the unity of knowledge and was furthered by a book written by Edward O. Wilson, the University Research Professor Emeritus at Harvard and Pulitzer Prize winner.”
“Wilson felt that science had become myopic in certain instances and wanted to take a more global view on certain occurrences. He also felt that nature was the key to almost everything and the term consilience was his key word. I identified with what he said and thought that winemaking involved a number of the key elements in his theory. I realized it wasn’t a typical word found in dictionaries, but I didn’t intend to make typical wines.”
The name stuck and Consilience Wines became Escalera’s reality. For his eclectic label, Escalera utilized three colored rings that were entwined and interlinked. The rings symbolized the aforementioned unity of knowledge that Brett Escalera considered so important to Consilience Wines.
“We really did quite well,” he continued. “We built our winery to around 13,000 annual cases and then we experienced the great slowdown of the wine business that mirrored the recession in our economy. That time was quite difficult for many wineries, including Consilience Wines.”
Escalera weathered the challenging periods and acquired new partners in his operation some three years ago. This infusion of capital has led to a major resurgence at Consilience Wines.
“I have always tried to be a good steward,” Brett Escalera finalized. “My aim is to make great wines and use sound winemaking techniques to do so. I feel I am now doing just that at Consilience Wines. The future is a really bright one for us and for our wines.”