Santa Barbara County region
From humble garage winemaking beginnings comes the ultra-tiny Montemar Winery, releasing small lots of Rhône and Burgundian style wines from Santa Barbara County's most desirable vineyards.
Located in the heart of Santa Barbara County’s affectionately named ‘Lompoc Wine Ghetto,’ Montemar Winery produces small-lot wines from the great vineyards of the surrounding region. The focus has been on Rhône and Burgundian varietals and the vineyard sources include some of the top properties in Sta. Rita Hills, Ballard Canyon, and Los Alamos. Owner/winemaker Steve Arrowood has been crafting the wines since 1992 and today has quite the local presence and support for his ultra-boutique winery.
After several years of collecting fine wines and enjoying trips to wine growing regions near and far, Steve decided to start a winery in his garage in Palos Verdes (Los Angeles) in 1992. They were sourcing fruit from vineyards as far south as Santa Barbara County and as far north as Napa Valley, making upwards of 14 barrels a year. Production slowly grew over the years (today, it is still only at 1,400 cases annually), and in 2009, Montemar became a commercially bonded winery. Steve and Caryn moved most of their operation to Montemar's current location in the 'Lompoc Wine Ghetto' on California's Central Coast. The Arrowoods continue to make small lots of wine in their garage with friends and enjoy experimenting with new varietals, blends, and oak treatments there as well.
Steve Arrowood initially fell in love with the Central Coast while attending college in San Luis Obispo, and today he is very proud to be a part of the region's growing wine industry. There are many excellent fruit sources available to him, but, according to Steve, the Sta. Rita Hills AVA is the most special. Montemar Winery offers several single vineyard Pinot Noirs from the up-and-coming region and Steve also serves on the Sta. Rita Hills AVA Board of Directors. As Steve puts it, he is a "super fan" of the region.
Steve and Caryn believe that great wine is made in the vineyard, so a significant amount of energy is focused there. Montemar sources all of its fruit from top vineyards in Santa Barbara County by leasing specific blocks and controlling all aspects of farming. They have been doing this for quite some time and some of the vineyard blocks have been under their control for over 15 years. As a vineyard-driven winery, the winemaking process is very thoughtful and meticulous, allowing the distinctiveness of each site to shine through in the finished wines.
In 2013, Steve and Caryn opened Montemar Winery's tasting room in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto. The space features a large outdoor patio with live music, a small beach-like area, plenty of long tables and lounge chairs, and a selection of games (oversized Jenga and dice, cornhole, and hoola hoops). The fun atmosphere and selection of premium Montemar wines makes it a must-visit location in the area.
The name 'Montemar' by the way, came from a street below Steve and Caryn's house in Palos Verdes Estates. It means 'hill by the ocean' - and that is where all of their vines are found on the Central Coast. The shield on the wine label is reminiscent of Steve's favorite football club (Barcelona), and the colors reminded the couple of Siena. They wanted it to look old and European in style. The trident in the center is Steve's city and high school's emblem and it came from a statue donated by the Italians in 1920.
We hope our Pinot Noir Wine Club members enjoy this celebrated release from Montemar Winery, and make a visit to the tasting room if you are ever in the Santa Barbara area!