From the Vine, my wine column in the Santa Maria Times/Lompoc Record, was published last Sunday, all about the new Brick Barn Wine Estate in Buellton
(So sorry but due to a problem with my webpage, I cannot upload photos, but you can see them on my Central Coast Critic page on Facebook)
Only one month ago, I was invited to the media opening of the new Brick Barn Wine Estate in Buellton. They are a member of Santa Barbara Vintners Association, and officially in the Santa Ynez AVA (American Viticultural Area). I was extremely surprised while at the opening event to find their wines quite tasty, especially since they were made from grapes grown in their first two vintages. But, not to my surprise, they were wise enough to hire two top notch winemakers (unnamed) in Santa Barbara County to make their first wines. I wrote about the new wine estate in my From the Vine column in the Santa Maria Times/Lompoc Record which was published on Sunday, April 23rd.
You can read it free by clicking on this handy link:
We met most of the staff there, including the vintners who don’t want to be the focus of any media reports. But everyone from the winemaker, general manager and tasting room staff were enthusiastic, friendly, and wine savvy. Those are the markers of any great winery. And this new winery is one you’ll want to get to know soon.
From their PR people, Mooncatcher.com in Paso Robles (they are well connected in both SLO and Santa Barbara counties), I received bios of the staff. I’ll share them here as written up by Mooncatcher as I don’t know the staff that well, yet. But you will see they are all very experienced people who have been around the Central Coast for several years.
“Brick Barn Wine Estate is a newer estate winery located in a largely unexplored winegrowing corridor near the city of Buellton in Santa Barbara County’s western Santa Ynez Valley. The estate features a 35-acre vineyard with a focus on Pinot Noir, Grenache, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and other aromatic whites.
The first Brick Barn wines were released earlier this year. The new hospitality center adjoins the winery in an iconic red brick barn that features a tasting room, indoor event spaces, a wedding garden, and an expansive outdoor guest lounge. The winery is situated on a historic 1,100-acre ranch and is locally owned by Norman and Kathy Williams.
The Brick Barn Wine Estate management team includes:
Tom O’Higgins – General Manager
Tom O’Higgins is a veteran wine industry executive with more than 30 years of experience in France, the Napa Valley, Sonoma and the Central Coast. Prior to joining Brick Barn Wine Estate, he was the general manager of nearby Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards. O’Higgins spent 17 years as a senior vice president at Williams-Sonoma, where he belonged to a small executive team that was instrumental in expanding the gourmet housewares retailer from three stores to more than 200 locations. O’Higgins later joined the executive management team at V. Sattui Winery in Napa Valley, where he was responsible for sales, merchandising, marketing, personnel, training, and staffing at the winery’s renowned marketplace visitor experience. At Brick Barn Wine Estate, O’Higgins has steered construction of the winery and hospitality center, and now oversees all operations including wine production, viticulture, marketing, hospitality, and both DTC and trade sales channels.
Rob DaFoe – Winemaker
Rob DaFoe is a Santa Barbara native and former professional snowboarder who produced the acclaimed winemaking documentary From Ground to Glass. Driven to make his own wine, he paid his dues at local wineries before co-founding his own label, Tanner DaFoe. At Tanner DaFoe, Rob’s wines were hailed by the Wine Spectator’s James Laube for “making impressive gains with Cabernet Sauvignon grown in the eastern reaches of Santa Barbara County.” Along the way, Laube named Tanner DaFoe as one of four “rising stars in California Cabernet.” Now, at Brick Barn Wine Estate, DaFoe brings his brand of intuitive, low-manipulation winemaking to the western frontierland of the Santa Ynez Valley
Sonja Walker – Tasting Room and Events Manager
Sonja Walker studied art history at the University of Maryland at Germany and began her hospitality career in Dallas as an art gallery events director. Pursuing her dual passions for events and wine, she moved to California’s Central Coast in 2014, where she became the event manager at Sanford Winery & Vineyards. She now brings her event and hospitality expertise to Brick Barn Wine Estate, heading up both the tasting room and special event operations.
Channing Jones – Wine Club Manager
Channing grew up in Ojai, California, where she and her siblings frequently helped her grandfather on their family vineyard and winery. She later studied entrepreneurship at Santa Barbara City College and launched a wine marketing consultancy with her sister. Prior to joining Brick Barn Wine Estate, she was the DTC and membership manager at Sunstone Vineyards and Winery in the Santa Ynez Valley,” from the Brick Barn press release.
You can learn much more about Brick Barn on their webpage at www.brickbarnwineestate.com. Within the article I wrote I’ve included the tasting room hours, plus special tastings you can reserve in advance. Otherwise you’ll also find all of that on their webpage.