By Donna Polizzi
While wine tasting with a group of friends recently, on a beautiful day in the Funk Zone at the Santa Barbara Wine Collective, I discovered a new favorite. The Santa Barbara Wine Collective is a fun place with a great deli that offers wines and wine tasting from a variety of local sources including some relatively unknown boutique wineries.
My pourer treated me to a taste of a sensational 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. The moment that this liquid sensation hit my lips, Babcock Winery and Vineyards gained a huge fan.
It wasn’t long before a trip to Lompoc was on the agenda and let me tell you… It is well worth the drive. Babcock Winery and Vineyard is located up on a hill on 110-acres right off Highway 246. If you exit Highway 101 in Buellton and go West on Highway 246 aka Mission Drive, you can’t miss it.
What captured my attention was the tasting room. It occupies a vast warehouse full of amusing things to see, do, and of course taste.
When you walk through the front doors, you will be hooked immediately. It’s a jovial place with friendly staff who love working there. The warehouse is full of old-school slices of Americana, big signs that were popular in the 50’s and 60’s, American flags, vintage items, antiques, vinyl records, many from the 1970’s, and beautiful household items that aren’t typical. The collection of old typewriters, cash registers, traveler’s chests and telephones are reminiscent of museum pieces. When I see so many household items from my childhood described as “antiques”, it makes me realize that I am much older than I feel. Is it just me?
Ohhh, and the wine. It’s just superb. It’s not that often that you go in for a wine tasting and genuinely enjoy every single varietal poured. At Babcock, every offering is fantastic. Yes, it is that good.
Keys 2 the Coast has recommended Babcock Winery and Vineyards as a favorite place to wine, dine and explore with friends. As mentioned, you can spend hours browsing, sitting on the patio, sipping their wines or even playing pool. And a variety of games are at the ready if you are including cards, chess, or checkers. Do yourself a favor and order a glass, or better yet, a bottle of the 2011 Slice of Heaven Pinot Noir. You will experience notes of raspberries and strawberries.
There are several things to keep you amused and occupied at Babcock Winery and Vineyards in addition to sipping their excellent selection of delicious wines.
Do you like retro? Head up to Babcock Winery and Vineyard and fill your glass with a fantastic 2011 Déjà vu, Pinot Noir, or a 2012 Top Cream, Chardonnay, and be sure to check out the Soulstruck Lounge in the building located right in front of the picnic tables near the tasting room. It’s a rock n’ roll fantasy land where you will feel as though you’ve been transported back in time. Even the walls are covered with classic old magazines including LOOK and LIFE as well as classic albums from the Doors, Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, and Rolling Stones and other groups too numerous to mention…suffice to say, hundreds of other oldies but goodies to stir up old memories from the past.
The bottom line is Bryan Babcock, the winemaker, really knows his stuff. In fact, the Los Angeles Times selected Bryan Babcock as one of the “Ten Best Winemakers of the year.”
A trendsetter with a first-rate grape growing practice, Bryan is also named as one of the “Top ten small production winemakers in the world” according to the James Beard Foundation. Bryan Babcock literally and figuratively turns grape growing practices upside down. I’m serious, ask your tasting room host to tell you about it while you’re there.
And if time allows, Babcock Winery shares a driveway with Melville Winery at 5175 E Highway 24. Both wineries offer nothing short of fabulous wine, and both boast properties that are scenic and welcoming.
Live life to the fullest and may your cup never be half empty.