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Cordon of Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara County region

A boutique wine producer blending 'Old World' sensibility with 'New World' winemaking techniques

Etienne Terlinden was introduced to wine at a very young age and even remembers playing hide-and seek among the precious Grand Cru Bordeaux and Premiere Cru Burgundy bottles in his grandfather’s extensive wine cellar in Belgium. His grandfather would often open bottles for Etienne and his cousin’s education, teaching them the importance of terroir and how to recognize the harmony of pairing wine and food together. Growing up in Los Angeles with a Belgian father and Californian mother, wine also played an important part in Etienne’s family meals at home. At a relatively young age, Etienne had the privilege of sampling wines from all over the world and it instilled in him an early fascination in viticulture and oenology.

Etienne went on to study geography and economics at UC Santa Barbara. While living on the Central Coast, Etienne discovered the unique microclimates of Santa Barbara County and was interested in their ability to produce a variety of wines with distinct character. He learned even more about the wine-growing region’s potential while working for Laetitia Vineyard & Winery (Arroyo Grande), Gainey Vineyards (Santa Ynez Valley), and Central Coast Wine Services (Santa Maria Valley) as an enologist and winemaker.

Etienne was so inspired by the viticultural areas of Santa Barbara County that in 2001 he started his own label, Cordon Wine (named to honor the vine - the cordon, or the “arms” of the grapevine, extend from the trunk and are the part where additional arms and eventually leaves and grape clusters extend from). Etienne’s goal with Cordon Wine was, and still is, to create exceptional wines that honor tradition, that are made with modern state-of-the-art techniques, that have certain ‘Old World’ sensibility (to honor his roots), and that have a true sense of place and character.

Certain grapes to better than others in specific Santa Barbara County AVA’s, and that has become Etienne’s focus with Cordon Wine - to appropriately express the microclimates and terroirs of the various appellations. On that note, his Sauvignon Blanc is from Happy Canyon, his Chardonnay is from Santa Maria Valley, his Pinot Noir is from Sta. Rita Hills, and his Syrah is from Santa Barbara County. He wants his wines to reflect the best qualities of the grape clone, terroir, and climate, as his philosophy states, “True to place, true to grape, and true to self.”

Etienne operates a tasting room with Rake Wines called Easy Street Wine Collective in downtown Buellton, in the Santa Ynez Valley. Here, visitors can taste through the exceptional range of Cordon Wines and get a true taste of what Santa Barbara County has to offer. We are excited to share this winery's wonderful production with our Garagiste Wine Club members!

Map of the area

Etienne Terlinden - Owner & Winemaker

Picture of Etienne Terlinden - Owner & Winemaker

Before establishing Cordon Wine, owner/winemaker Etienne Terlinden gained valuable winemaking experience at Laetitia Vineyard & Winery (as a "cellar rat"), Gainey Vineyard (as a harvest worker), and Central Coast Wine Services (as a winemaker). At Central Coast Wine Services, Etienne working alongside some of the region's most respected winemakers who were producing wines from prestigious local Santa Barbara vineyards. In 2004, Etienne became the head winemaker for Summerland Winery, as position he still holds today. He is also the consulting winemaker to a number of other small production wineries in the Santa Barbara area. When he is not crafting wine, Etienne enjoys surfing, sailing, and spending time with his family.