Dragonette Cellars

Santa Barbara County region


One of our favorite spots in Los Olivos

As with many small wineries, it might be considered something of a cliché to say the owners of Dragonette Cellars really love wine. A thorough examination into the winery has proved this beyond a doubt. In fact, their love of the almighty grape governs their every action.

Dragonette Cellars is the product of brothers John and Steve Dragonette, and their best friend, Brandon Sparks-Gillis. The plan hatched in 2005 by the three friends was quite simple: Establish a winery that would use prime Santa Barbara County grapes and hand produce the finest wines possible. The trio figured they had something of a leg up since they had a wealth of wine experience between them.

John had studied wine for ten years and apprenticed at the acclaimed Fiddlehead Cellars. He had also worked for three years for one of the area’s top vineyard management companies, and had developed great relationships with a number of the leading growers in the area.

Sparks-Gillis’ experience included the cultish Sine Qua Non Winery of Manfred Krankl and the highly-rated Torbreck Vintners of the Barossa Valley in Australia.

The name Dragonette was selected for the winery because it carried a certain panache of mystery and uniqueness. The family name was originally Italian (Dragonetti) but was changed when the family emigrated from Italy in the 1930’s. “We all thought that Dragonette was perfect for our new venture,” continued Brandon Sparks-Gillis.

Dragonette Cellars’ first release was a minuscule 300 cases in 2006. Aided by exceptional scores and medals, the tiny winery has expanded and will produce about 5,000 cases this year, with no immediate plans to increase production.

“Dragonette is one of the most fascinating wineries in the Central Coast. The best wines are truly world class, and I don’t use those words lightly.” – Jeb Dunnuck, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.

Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,

Greetings from the Santa Ynez Valley! We are proud to present you with our 2012 MJM, Santa Barbara County. MJM is our signature, Syrah-based blend, combining our favorite few barrels of Syrah (some co-fermented with small amounts of Viognier) with small amounts of Grenache. The name MJM is an homage to Mitchi, Jen, and Michelle, our wives and co-conspirators in the fabulous journey that began in 2005 when we launched this winery.

This wine is crafted from four superlative vineyards, all of which we farm on per acre contracts, to allow us to farm for low yields and maximum quality. John Sebastiano (Santa Ynez Valley at the edge of the Sta. Rita Hills) provides 50% of the fruit for this wine and is our coolest Syrah site, which results in remarkable aromatics of spice and dark fruits, in a wild, medium bodied frame with plenty of earth. Stolpman Vineyard (Ballard Canyon) represents 30% of the blend. It is expertly farmed organically and with little irrigation, producing low yields of spectacularly dark, intense red fruits and meaty notes. Thompson (Los Alamos Valley) is 10% of the blend. Our blocks are at the top of the vineyard’s steep, south-facing, shale slopes, where cool ocean influences give intense blue fruits with solid structure. Harrison Clarke (Ballard Canyon) contributes 10% of the blend. This vineyard yields tiny bunches of grapes whose wines combine blackberry fruit and minerals.

We harvest each vineyard block separately and ensure only the best fruit makes it to the winery. We ferment and age each lot separately in various oak barrels, and once the wines have developed their personalities, we taste and select the most intense and age worthy-lots for the MJM.

Enjoy the wine and have a great Fall season. If you make it to beautiful Santa Barbara wine country, please come by and taste with us!

All the best from the Dragonette Cellars family,

Brandon Sparks-Gillis, John Dragonette & Steve Dragonette

Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,

Greetings from Los Olivos! We are currently wrapping up the 2014 Harvest season, which holds great promise. In fact, it is the third harvest in a row which has featured idyllic growing conditions. The big story this year is the drought conditions which caused early bud break in the spring and have resulted in the earliest harvest in our history. Our hands are purple from pressing grapes today, and though tired, we are extremely happy.

We are proud to present you with our 2012 Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills. The Sta. Rita Hills AVA (American Viticulture Area) is located very near the Pacific Ocean which provides a cooling influence with near constant wind and fog. The appellation is one of the coolest climate locations in all of California and this allows the thinned skinned Pinot Noir to enjoy a long, slow ripening season which results in grapes (and wines) of tremendous flavor intensity and balanced acidity.

This wine is crafted from five remarkable vineyards that span the Sta. Rita Hills, each featuring unique soils and climates that are ideal for this fickle grape. Some of these vineyards are among the pioneers of the appellation (Fiddlestix and La Encantada among them), while others (John Sebastiano, Radian, and Bentrock) are newer plantings that are pushing the boundaries on steep, windswept hillsides. We farm each vineyard site to best capture these different site characteristics and harvest, ferment, and age them separately in our cellars. Once the wines have developed their personalities in barrel, we taste them and carefully blend to create a wine that represents the beauty of the hills. We feel that the different vineyards add wonderful complexity to the final wine.

Enjoy the wine, and have a great Fall season. If you make it to beautiful Santa Barbara wine country, please come by and taste with us! Our Tasting Room is located in “downtown” Los Olivos, and is open daily from 11-5. We also offer winery tours and tastings by appointment. We hope to see you soon!

All the best from the Dragonette Cellars family,

Brandon Sparks-Gillis, John Dragonette & Steve Dragonette