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.
One of the newer additions to Santa Barbara’s Happy Canyon AVA, Grimm’s Bluff was founded in 2012 by Rick and Aurora Grimm with the intention of making premium wine in the classic Old World-European style. The couple’s 16-acre estate vineyard was planted to warm weather-loving Bordeaux varietals in 2012 and is one of the only vineyards in the region to have been biodynamically farmed from the start. The first releases from Grimm’s Bluff have been very well received and highly rated, setting the bar quite high for this new darling of the Happy Canyon winegrowing region.
Raised in Islington, London by her parents who emigrated from Italy in the late 1940’s, Aurora Grimm grew up in a family where food, farming and family winemaking were important parts of their daily lives. Her husband, Rick Grimm, on the other hand, grew up in West Virginia and worked in the oil business for most of his career. He met Aurora upon moving to London in 1983, and together they launched their own petroleum products business that focused on blending environmentally friendly road fuels. The business was highly successful, and after selling it in 2007, Rick and Aurora decided they were ready to take up a new life in California. They moved to Santa Barbara with their three children (Henri, Gabriella, and Sam) and purchased a beautiful sprawling ranch property in the Happy Canyon.
Originally, the Grimms planted oat hay on their estate, but quickly realized it was not their cup of tea. Since they both loved wine, they decided to explore the possibility of planting a couple of acres of wine grapes. At the time, no one had planted vineyards in the Grimm’s sub-zone of Happy Canyon, but after connecting with winemaker Paul Lato and top biodynamic consultant Philippe Coderey, the Grimms found the most suitable area of the ranch to plant vines and were on their way to establishing Grimm’s Bluff Vineyard. Their ultimate goal was to make a wine that suited their preference for an Old World style, and one they would be proud to share with friends and family. In 2013, the Grimms harvested their first grapes and made their first wine, a Sauvignon Blanc, and haven’t looked back since.
Nestled in the South East corner of the Happy Canyon, the Grimms’ 246-acre ranch is quite idyllic with vineyards, Italian olive trees, a personal garden, and wild flower insectariums, all perched above the Santa Ynez River and cupped by rolling hills of the canyon. Under the direction of current winemaker Ernst Storm, we can only imagine the bright future that lies ahead for Grimm’s Bluff and their beautifully made, limited production wines. We hope our Garagiste Wine Club members enjoy this month’s feature.
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