Santa Ynez Valley AVA
A vivid expression from the Dierberg Family Estate vineyards.
With the amazing New Orleans Saints winning the latest Super Bowl in the NFL, there simply couldn’t be a better year than 2010 to feature wines from the Three Saints Vineyard. While there is no homage to either Drew Brees or Sean Payton at Three Saints Vineyard, one could say Three Saints Vineyard’s starting lineup is truly charged with greatness, namely the Three Saints who make up the winery’s AVA’s. The moving artwork that forms the Three Saints Vineyard label was taken from one of the two remaining centuries-old missions that still remain in Santa Barbara County. It is a poignant reminder of the great religious past of the lower Central Coast locale and its wine-based history. Moreover, the wines of this up and coming Santa Ynez winery have evoked cheers from practically every possible aspect of the wine business, from the oft difficult press and media to the highly competitive tastings that judge a wine’s measure in competitions. Begun in 2001 with an initial release of around 800 cases, Three Saints Vineyard has grown to around 6,000 cases during its first decade of existence. According to owner Jim Dierberg, Three Saints Vineyard fulfills a most important role in the overall operation of his multi-faceted wine setup.
“The way we have things organized, there is a great deal of attention paid to individual vineyard production and the like,” he commented. “We even go so far as to take it to individual barrels to provide our wineries with specific flavors and characteristics. When we are finished with our estate wines, there is a good amount of really excellent wine that remains for us to utilize. We take this unused juice and then make it into Three Saints Vineyard wines in a particular style and sell it at about half the price as our other estate wines. Keep in mind it is all estate grown and produced, but the reality is that the Three Saints wines become instant bargains.”
Dierberg feels that this factor allows a number of new consumers to try Three Saints Vineyard that ordinarily wouldn’t be able to enjoy the higher priced wines. “Cost is always a significant factor in choosing a wine,” he added. “Three Saints Vineyard allows people a way to try our wines at a significant price break, since all the wines are basically made the same. Many who like the Three Saints evolve into the estate wines, and we have new loyal customers. The ones who don’t have gotten a relative bargain in the wines and they are also happy. It’s a real win-win situation for everyone involved.”
Jim Dierberg feels that Three Saints Vineyard has evolved into a unique brand of its own, complete with a cadre of followers that eagerly await each new vintage. “When someone who loves wine latches on to a wine that he knows is a real bargain, it’s hard to ever let go,” he related. “Some of our Three Saints customers actually prefer Three Saints to some of our other wines. I’m sure price plays a part in it all, but it’s nice to have such a set of circumstances to surround our wines.” Three Saints Vineyard is an excellent example of a well thought out operation that gives something back to the consumer. This is not the case with all wineries and Jim Dierberg should be commended for his unselfish gesture toward consumers in general. It is one of the reasons his wineries are so successful.
‘The main thing is never to believe in your own voodoo too much to change your mind.”
Nick deLuca, 34, Director of Winemaking, has been in the wine industry since the early 1990’s, and has amassed an impressive resume with a number of notable wineries. His early stints include the highly respected Sonoma County wineries Cline Cellars and Fisher Vineyards and also a longer role with iconic Williams-Selyem Winery of Russian River and ultra Pinot Noir fame. Nick also managed to travel (in 1999 and 2000) to New Zealand where he honed his winemaking skills among several Kiwi vintners.
Nick deLuca is known for his rigorous fruit selection methods and his attention to minute detail in his winemaking duties. He has stated publicly, ‘You only rarely come across that special bottle that really turns your head and forces you to rethink everything you thought you knew about great wine. That’s the wine I’m trying to make—individual, complete and 100% genuine. The main thing is never to believe in your own voodoo too much to change your mind.”
Winemaker Andy Alba, also 34, shares winemaking responsibilities with deLuca. A veteran of famed Edna Valley Winery, Alba has been involved with Three Saints Vineyard for a number of years and brings formidable Central Coast experience to the mix
Jim and Mary Dierberg are making history!
Jim Dierberg and his wife Mary have been in the winery business for more than 40 years, first in Missouri and more recently in Santa Barbara County, California. Jim attributes his interest in wine to the fact that Mary’s family were once vignerons (grape growers) in France, a facet that provided the impetus for the couple to first attempt to enter the wine business.
While Jim Dierberg’s first business was banking, it is easy to see his heart and soul are now solidly implanted in the wine industry, both on a growing and winery basis. His other wine businesses, Dierberg Estate Vineyard and Star Lane Estate Vineyard are listed among the finest in the entire Central Coast Region and have been rewarded with numerous accolades and praises. Jim Dierberg’s commitment to his wine’s ultimate quality has been a thing of beauty. For instance, the vines that comprise Star Lane Vineyard are located in the extreme eastern edge of the Santa Ynez Valley, originally thought to be unfit for growing top notch grapes.
‘I really believe that some of the original farmers failed to go far enough East into the mountains,” Dierberg explained. ‘The heat increases as you get farther away from the coast and as the elevation also increases. Our Bordeaux blocks are where the most heat is concentrated and where the soils seem most suited.” If initial results are anything to judge by, it would seem that Dierberg was most correct about his assessment. Star Lane Vineyard has already become one of the most respected Bordeaux vineyards in the Central Coast Region. The same can be said for his original Dierberg Estate Vineyards in Santa Maria and the Santa Rita Hills that are stars in their own right and produce incredible Burgundian fruit. Since Three Saints Vineyard utilizes the same fruit as its expensive cousins, it is safe to assume that real quality can be found in Three Saints wines.
Dierberg is also fiercely independent about his grape growing. ‘We don’t buy a single grape from anyone,” he revealed. ‘Besides, there aren’t many Bordeaux varietals grown around here anyway. I guess we are the real pioneers when it comes to growing Cabernet Sauvignon and the like.”
Dierberg is content with the accolades his Three Saints Vineyard wines have garnered but admits that he still has a number of goals to achieve. ‘You are always correcting and adjusting,” he concluded. ‘That’s the only way to make even better wines. Since the three vineyards we use make up a specific triangle, that’s also a real plus. Many people believe that a pyramid is a source of power and a number of our customers have pointed out that is good for the wine. I’m not sure about all that, but it certainly can’t hurt.”
Jim Dierberg is also extremely proud of the fact that his wineries have become more of a family operation. He points to his daughter-in-law, Jaimin Dierberg, as a prime example. She has successfully marketed the Dierberg wines in Singapore, China, Taiwan and Japan and intends to work on other markets in the future.