Santa Ynez Valley AVA
A small producer located in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley
Consilience Wines was founded in 1999 by winemaker Brett Escalera and his business partner, Dr. Tom Daughters. Their goal was to focus on Rhône and Burgundian style varietals, sourced from some of the best and most exciting vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County.
In 2013, Bill and Jan Sanger bought out Dr. Daughters’ part of Consilience Wines, and the brand was then added to the Sanger Family of Wines, which also includes the brands Marianello and Tre Aneli. Since then, Consilience Wines has grown into a well-established entity with a boutique collection of wines that captures the essence of California’s Central Coast.
Brett Escalera and the Sangers have similar backgrounds, all born to immigrant families (Brett’s grandfathers were from Spain and Italy, Bill Sanger’s parents were Italian immigrants, and Jan’s were of French Canadian ancestry).
In each of their upbringings, wine was an important ingredient at family gatherings and they all developed a lasting respect for the grape at an early age. It seemed destined that each of them would end up in the wine industry, crafting wines to honor their heritage. We are happy to share the Old World-inspired Consilience Wines with our Gold Wine Club members!
Map of the area
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 Master's 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 Sta. 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.”