Santa Barbara County region
Double Gold Medal Winner!
Scott Cellars, one of the newest and smallest wineries in Santa Barbara County, is the brainchild of Peter Fraser (middle name, Scott) and the culmination of over a decade of intense work, dedication, and most of all, passion. This ultra boutique winery with its vineyard-designate wines and unique, distinctive blends is an exciting and fitting selection for this month’s Pinot Noir Series.
Peter Fraser, who previously worked in television advertising in Los Angeles, remembers the city’s 1992 riots as the epiphany moment that transported him into a different life with becoming a winemaker as the ultimate goal. Dismayed and frustrated with the city’s current events, Fraser was determined to do something he loved and decided to fulfill his longtime dream of starting a winery.
In 1995, on a wing and a prayer, Fraser left his advertising job and began mapping out a five-year plan. He initially wanted to work both the retail and wholesale sides of the industry, to better understand all aspects of the marketplace.
“I wanted to be a winemaker, but I’d never done anything like it before. So, first, I wanted to learn how to sell it,” Fraser recently explained in an interview. Over the next couple of years, Fraser landed jobs in tasting rooms, wine markets, and eventually with a distributor where he learned the ins and outs of selling and marketing wines on a broad based spectrum.
When Fraser felt comfortable to test the waters with winemaking, he made a call to the enology department at UC Davis and purchased all the textbooks that students in the program were required to read. He taught himself winemaking on nights and weekends and made wine recreationally at home to test his skills.
In 2000, Fraser took on the role of winemaker at a small family winery in Ventura, California called Leeward. Having very little experience making wine, the job took a big leap of faith on his part, but it proved to be an extremely educational portion of his life.
“They had no recipe I could follow. They just said, ‘go do it,’” Fraser recently recalled. He honed his winemaking skills at Leeward over the next five years, before deciding he was ready to move forward with his own winery, Scott Cellars.
Fraser and his wife Jennifer opened the doors to the Los Olivos based winery in 2005, releasing a number of varietals sourced from vineyards in the immediate area, with an overall production of just 900 cases.
Among the releases were vineyard designate wines including a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Santa Maria Valley, a Syrah from Black Oak Valley, and a Pinot Gris from Santa Barbara County. Fraser also released a powerhouse blend of Zinfandel and Syrah named ‘Cuvee J,’ for Jennifer, who had the final hand in perfecting the finished blend. With no training or background in winemaking, Jennifer proved that she has nothing short of an outstanding “common sense” palate. The wine continues to be a popular choice at the tasting room and public events.
Since all fruit is sourced, Fraser uses the greatest care when choosing vineyards, and enjoys exploring different sites and seeking out new opportunities whenever possible. Most of the grapes are sourced from within Santa Barbara County, with the exception of the Zinfandel from Cuvee J. This month’s featured 2007 Sierra Madre Vineyard Pinot Noir represents Scott Cellars’ first release from this beautiful Santa Maria Valley vineyard and accurately portrays the desirable ripe fruit flavors and earthiness the site has to offer.
Now producing about 1,000 cases of wine a year, Fraser’s plan is to increase slowly to keep things manageable.
“I am a one-man show,” Frazier says. “I am the Owner, Winemaker, Tasting Room Manager, Marketing Manager, Sales Manager and Chief Cook and Bottle Washer.” Although he does find help in the tasting room from his wife Jennifer and proud mother Maryann, who can’t help but gush about her son’s many accomplishments.
Scott Cellars is truly an American dream come true from a very passionate, enthusiastic man who knew what he wanted to do with his life, and made it happen. With a cult-like following developing after just a couple of limited wine releases, it’s clear to say Fraser’s done something right along the way and we anticipate his bright future ahead.
Peter Scott Fraser
Peter Scott Fraser, who is the owner and winemaker for Scott Cellars, truly finds his profession a labor of love. After spending nearly 12 years preparing for the opening of his boutique Los Olivos winery, Fraser is finally fulfilling his passion in life and continues to find energy and enthusiasm in promoting the growing Scott Cellars name.
Fraser first found an interest in wine in college while he was studying Media Management and focused on branching into the advertising business. He and his roommate enjoyed keeping a binder of labels and tasting notes of their favorite wines, and it instilled in Fraser a longtime appreciation and interest for fine wines and winemaking.
Now years later, without a mentor or any winemaking coach for guidance, Peter Fraser is 100% self-taught and is producing some exceptional wines from California’s Central Coast. His inspiring story and contagious enthusiasm can be heard and felt at his boutique Los Olivos tasting room, where he enjoys speaking with local visitors and fellow enthusiasts.