Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara
The Grimms' land is located in the southeastern corner of the Happy Canyon AVA, arguably California’s most desired appellation for producing superior varietals.
In 2006, Rick and Aurora Grimm put their three teenage children in a van and drove across half of the United States in search of a new place to call home. The family had recently sold their oil-related business in Europe and were returning from living in Monaco. They sought to find a perfect place to raise their family somewhere in the United States. California beckoned, and ultimately the incredible beauty and sereneness of Santa Barbara won over the Grimm family’s hearts.
A spectacular piece of property (246 acres) on Kentucky Road that sat between two mountain ranges became available and the Grimms purchased it immediately. A part of the land was situated on a natural bluff that commanded an outstanding view of the surrounding countryside. Quite naturally, the property was then named ‘Grimm’s Bluff.’
Next, they talked with several experts on the best use of the land and settled on a crop of oat hay. That was in 2010, the hay had problems, and that decision was quickly abandoned.
Since Aurora Grimm’s family was of Italian origin, she possessed a natural allegiance toward vineyards and olive groves, and that combination has worked out well for the Grimm family. Today, sixteen and one-half acres are planted to mostly Bordeaux varietals and another five acres are planted in olives. Unknown to the Grimms at the time, the land was located in the southeastern corner of the Happy Canyon AVA, arguably California’s most desired appellation for producing superior varietals. “We had no idea about Happy Canyon when we first started growing grapes and the appellation wasn’t recognized until late 2009. Of course, we are delighted with everyone’s success and it certainly has been a boon to our own efforts.”
The move into the wine business started some three years later when a small release of around 75 cases of Sauvignon Blanc took place. The following year, 2014, another 725 cases of mixed wines were produced, and the new winery was on its way to consumer acceptance and excellent scores and reviews by trade publications.
This year, Grimm’s Bluff will produce around 1,200 cases, by choice. “We sell about half of our grapes to wineries like Foxen Vineyard and Winery, Dragonette Cellars, and Matt McKinley,” informed Rick Grimm during a recent interview. “We have tried to grow our winery slowly and continue to improve the quality. That’s been our intention from the start and it’s delightful to see that our strategy has really paid off. We always wanted to make good wines in a style that both Aurora and I enjoyed and also make wines that we were proud to drink and put our names behind.”
Grimm’s Bluff also had the foresight to surround itself with a number of top wine professionals.
Top-rated winemaker Paul Lato (Polish-born, Sommelier-trained, he has been referred to as ‘The Prince of Pinot’) signed on as the consulting winemaker and the rest is history. His sure hand is felt in making the wines and Lato works closely with Aurora Grimm in selecting the winery’s final blends.
“Aurora has a true sense of palate and a passion for selecting wines that fit our taste,” added Rick Grimm. “She’s an important figure when it comes to the final blends. It’s her real forte.”
Grimm’s Bluff employs a simple label concept. An artist’s rendition of what a line of ash trees would look like from below Grimm’s Bluff makes a solid statement to where the grapes used to make the wine actually originated.
Perhaps the most important element to the winery is the fact that the operation is totally Biodynamically-certified. Rick Grimm explained that it is Grimm’s Bluff’s intention to give life back into the soil without the need for foreign compounds or the like. “Biodynamic farming is most certainly the way of the future,” he related. “It simply makes sense to do the best you can for the land around you. In the end, the land benefits and so do the grapes that are produced. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.” To that end, Philippe Coderey, a top biodynamic consultant has been a team member since the origin of Grimm’s Bluff. It was Coderey who chose the exact location and varietals the winery would plant back in 2010 and he has overseen development of the vineyards ever since.
The future is incredibly bright for Grimm’s Bluff and its excellent portfolio of fine wines. Great care and constant supervision have produced another top-flight winery operation. We know our Platinum Wine of the Month Club members will enjoy the gifted wines of Grimm’s Bluff for years to come.
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
They say good things come to those who wait. I can think of a few times in my life where a bit of patience and extra research could have paid off handsomely. When Aurora and I began the journey of developing our Biodynamic vineyard, we made a point to do our due diligence in how to go about growing the best possible wine from this plot of land. What we soon realized is how important a good foundation was for the big picture.
Our decision to plant a new vineyard in the Gobelet style was not something commonly done here on the Central Coast. These ancient style vines look like small bushes with one vertical stake for the shoots to climb. Conventional farming seemed to favor the more modern techniques of training the vines along a wired trellis system with more intervention on the vine position and life-cycle from the outside. You see, the Cabernet Sauvignon we grow in the Gobelet method are left to sort things out naturally on their own. This vine grows completely instinctively, letting the canopy open and close throughout the day and night to expose the fruit to the elements on its own accord. They truly are the happiest vines on the property. The delicate stresses this method creates also develops a strong foundation with deep roots and resistance to disease and imbalances the vines may be exposed to year-to-year. Though the yields are very small, the quality of fruit is unmatched.
This 2015 ‘Contango’ Cabernet Sauvignon is exclusively from these Gobelet style vines. The wine is a distinct window directly into our soils, a true expression of Grimm’s Bluff terroir. I recommend decanting this wine to let the layers slowly reveal themselves. It is a Cabernet that plays well with quality cuts of beef, or aged Cheddar, Gouda, or even Bleu cheese. More importantly, enjoy it with friends and the comforts knowing it was once a cluster that was living its best life.
Rick & Aurora Grimm