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  • Time

    00:54 AM
  • Wine average?

    88 Tb
  • Country Ranking?

    133
  • Region Ranking?

    4
  • Popularity ranking?

    207

History

We are a family-owned, estate winery dedicated to Syrah and other Rhône varietals. We handcraft our wines with integrity using traditional methods. The third winery established in Santa Barbara County, Zaca Mesa is known for not only producing great wines, but producing some of the region's best winemakers.

 

Purchased in 1972 by John Cushman and five friends, the first vines were planted a year later in 1973. Only the third winery in Santa Barbara County at that time, Zaca Mesa became a Santa Barbara County “vineyard wildcatter”- experimenting with many varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, and Chardonnay to see what would work. After several years of trial and error, Syrah was planted in 1978. Unbeknownst to the early winemaking team at the time, this block would become what is today the renown Black Bear Block, the oldest Syrah block in the Central Coast.

 

As a vineyard and winery pioneer in the Santa Barbara County, Zaca Mesa also became the training ground for many great winemakers. Ken Brown was Zaca Mesa’s first winemaker who later started Byron in Santa Maria Valley. Adam Tolmach, Jim Clendenen and Bob Lindquist worked at Zaca Mesa before venturing out on their own to start Ojai, Au Bon Climat and Qupé, respectively. The number of winemakers that got their start at Zaca Mesa helped create what is now known as Zaca University. The first Central Coast wine (one of only two to this day) to achieve a Wine Spectator Top Ten was the 1993 Zaca Mesa Syrah, which came in at #6 and was the creation of winemaker Daniel Gehrs. This wine was also the wine of choice served at the White House on February 1, 1996 for the French President Jacques Chirac official State Dinner. 

 

It was Daniel Gehrs who realized that while Zaca Mesa’s vineyards were too far inland from the coast to produce quality Pinot Noir, and not quite hot enough to produce quality Cabernet Sauvignon, they turned out to be ideal for Rhône Varietals. The soil, climate, and altitude of the Zaca Mesa vineyards were great not only for Syrah, but also for Roussanne, Viognier, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Grenache Blanc which were planted in the 1990’s and 2000’s.

 

Since 1997, the vineyard and winemaking practices have focused on growing the best Syrah, Viognier, and other Rhône varieties. Since then, Zaca Mesa has ripped out over half the original vines, and replaced them with high-density plantings of new rootstock and clone combinations to significantly improve quality. The result is Zaca Mesa wines consistently receive high scores and praise industry wide.

 

In 2010, another Zaca Mesa Syrah (the 2006 vintage produced by Clay Brock) burst through with a #29 ranking in Wine Spectator’s Top 100. Eric Mohseni became head winemaker in 2008 and consistently produces 90+ scores, including the #59 Wine Enthusiast ranking of the 2009 Black Bear Block Syrah. 

 

Eric spearheaded Zaca Mesa fruit sales over the years to the point where the farming and winery operation need attention from a Director’s perspective to get the best quality production from the vineyard.  By proving her wine-making talent with the Homage series, Kristin’s promotion is a fitting and natural step in her development. In 2016, Eric Mohseni was promoted to Director of Vineyard and Winery Operations and Kristin Bryden was promoted to Winemaker. 

 

John Cushman, along with his brother Lou, became 100% owners of Zaca Mesa in 1988. Still family owned and deeply rooted in Central Coast winemaking tradition, Zaca Mesa is a place where you can enjoy quality made wine in a rustic setting among the mountains and scattered oaks.

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Vineyards

Our vineyard is located in the northern most portion of Santa Ynez Valley AVA within Santa Barbara County. Unlike most of California’s coast, our valleys orient east-west, opening to the Pacific Ocean’s influences with its cooling morning fog and afternoon breeze. We are about 25 miles from the Pacific Ocean.

We first planted our vines in 1973 and we have 244 plantable acres on our 750 acre estate. Our soils are mostly Chamise Loam which are well-drained soils that developed over gravelly beds of silt and clay, and sandy water-deposited materials. Chamise soils normally contain a large number of water-rounded fragments of Monterey Shale. These soils are on dissected high terraces (or mesas) in widely scattered areas with elevations of 1500 feet above sea level. The higher elevation provides lower high temperatures and higher low temperatures for slow consistent ripening.

 

With few other vineyards in the area to learn from, the vineyard was originally planted with numerous varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Grenache, Chardonnay, and Syrah to see what would work. In 1978, Zaca Mesa was the first to plant Syrah in Santa Barbara County and over the years we have learned that the grapes varieties indigenous to the Rhône valley of France (Syrah, Grenache, Mouvrèdre, Cinsault, Viognier, Roussanne and Grenache Blanc) prosper in our vineyard.

Since 1997, we have focused on growing Syrah, Viognier and other Rhône varieties. We have ripped up over half the original vines, replacing them with high-density planting of new rootstock and clone combinations. We now have 10 clones of Syrah and the most high-density vineyard acres in the county.

Zaca Mesa “Estate Grown and Bottled” wines assures you a unique, terroir-based wine experience to share with your friends and family.

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Inside information

Our team here at Zaca Mesa Winery consists of a wide variety of personalities and backgrounds. The most important thing we have in common is our dedication to creating and selling a product we are passionate about. It takes a family to get great wine to your table, take a look below at the people in the forefront of the operation.

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9 different wines with 14 vintages

Highlights

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Wine Moments

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 Michel Jamais, Wine Writer (Sweden)  tasted  5 wines  from  Zaca Mesa . In a tasting of  11 wines 

2007 Pinot Noir Comptche Ridge Vineyard / 92 p Grapes for this wines is purchased from a tiny vineyard, 0.80 hectares, north of Navarro Vineyards but outside the appellation of Anderson Valley, hence the generic Mendocino County designation. It's owned by the Weir family and planted to the old Pinot Noir clone from Swan Vineyards in Russian River Valley. It's just a few miles from the coast, so it's a very cool site.
To be a Pinot Noir, color is quite dark, but that's not so unusual for Pinot Noir grown in such cold regions, where the grapes gets small and the skin grows thick. It's a lovely wine with a great personality and a quite intense perfume of dark cherries, ripe wild raspberries and sloe, and there's almost a Gevrey-Chambertin like punch to it as well. The oak, just 20 percent new, is beautifully well integrated, and alcohol at 13.7 percent. Therefore it's no surprise the one may put it in Burgundy if tasting it blind. It's medium bodied but intense and very silky, with a slightly sweetish texture and a lively acidity. I tasted it the first time a year ago, and again some months later, and found it to be a bit closed in the finish then, but now it's lovely. I prefer to decant it just prior to pouring it, so the aromas evolve a bit.
This time, I left a glass in the bottle to taste the day after, and although I still loved it for its intensity and lingering aftertaste, I missed some of the more aromatic perfumes from when it was newly opened.

3m 19d ago

 Zaca Mesa  has updated producer and wine information

3m 19d ago

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