A few years ago I was re-introduced to Pinot Noirs after a 15-barrel tasting I had at Tantara Winery. It was a huge lesson on Pinot Noirs each grown from the four appellations in the Santa Barbara County area. I have since grown to love many Pinot Noirs from many appellations throughout the state of California; however, my favorites are still the ones grown in Santa Rita Hills of Lompoc. Eventually, I pinpointed a favorite vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills; Dierberg Estate Vineyards. Why them? Because they produce a Pinot Noir grape with lots of personality.
Yeah, there is something magical about the Pinot Noir grapes from Dierberg Estate Vineyards that appeals to me. I know that the grapes are grown in a combination of sandstone and limestone, which is distinctive of the Santa Rita Hills and I also know that Lompoc is actually some 10 – 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Oh yeah, I would agree that a winemaker has a lot to do with making a Pinot Noir wine taste great, but every time I taste a Pinot Noir wine with grapes sourced from Dierberg Estate Vineyards, I always notice the distinctive smooth yet gutsy flavor that is unparalleled to other Pinot Noir grape growers within the Santa Rita Hills appellation.
Flash forward Pinot Days 2012 in Santa Monica. As I walked through the booths of many wineries showcasing their Pinots, I ran into the booth of Dierberg – Star Lane Vineyard. I didn’t know that Dierberg Estate Vineyards made wines under their own label and I especially didn’t know that they also owned Star Lane Vineyards that also made their own wines too. I was told that their tasting room was pouring both labels and of course, I had already made up my mind to visit their tasting room. This past weekend, my friends and I finally took a wine tasting day trip throughout the Santa Barbara County area and of course, one of our stops was Dierberg – Star Lane Vineyards Tasting Room.
I had made a reservation for private tasting as all groups of 8 or more require a reservation. The cost of a tasting was $10 for a tasting of between 6 to 10 wines from their Dierberg and Star Lane labels. I discovered beautifully crafted Chardonnays and Pinot Noir wines from Dierberg Estate and loved each one of them. The Chardonnays were nice, crisp, and buttery whereas the Pinots were a jammy. They also make an extraordinary Syrah, a Rhone varietal, which is outside of what Dierberg is known to grown i.e. new Burgundy varietals. The 2008 Dierberg Estate Syrah has hints of lavender and violet with chewy leathery berries and a bit of smokiness. I love this Syrah!
The Star Lane Vineyard label, on the other hand, showcased their take on Bordeaux varietals like the 2009 Star Lane Merlot that was a little earthy and a bit leathery. My overall favorite of Star Lane turned out to be their 2006 Star Lane Astral Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is exquisite. It’s heavy on the blackberries with mellow dramatic oakiness and some chocolate truffle undertones. There is also a nice slightly long medium tannic finish. I think the Astral is the kind of wine to enjoy with cheese plate or perhaps some Carne Asada or Chorizo tacos or quesadillas. The Astral is drinkable now or later, but not longer than two years in the cellar.
Dierberg – Star Lane Estate Vineyards
1280 Drum Canyon Road
Lompoc, CA 93436
Tasting Room hours:
11:00am – 5:00pm Seven days a week.
Call ahead to schedule a private tasting if your party is more than 8 people.