JCR NewsPress Article by Gabe Saglie



JCR NewsPress Article by Gabe Saglie
Sense ofplace: Historic property
at center ofJCR Wines
certainly not lost on
Wayne Siemens and
David Grotenhuis. Ever since the
Westmont grads founded Santa
Barbara Capital in 1972,they've
been in the business ofdeveloping
quality property. These days,
they run hotel,commercial and
residential ventures throughout
Santa Barbara and from Marina del
Rey to Portland.
But nabbing a historic piece of
Santa Barbara County land in 2005
wasn't business; it was personal.
"We decided to purchase it for
leisure—to host kids,grandkids
and friends,and for all the joys
thatcome from having a ranch,"
Siemens tells me."And
it's a drop-dead beautiful
We're chatting as we sit
inside a dusty open-top
in the driver's seat,and
trek down the roclQ^ dirt
roads that crisscross
this 1,000-acre estate.
in the county right now.
"We didn't set out to make wine,"
insists Siemens. But the viticultural
potential ofthis striking hill—with
its shifting steepness,variable
terrain and southeast-facing
facade, which welcomes plenty of
morning and afternoon sun—soon
caught the interest ofa few wellknown local vintners. It was Mark
Cargasacchi, who owns land and
makes wine nearby, who turned
the rugged space into a vineyard in
At seven miles from the Pacific
Ocean,Jalama Canon Ranch(or
JCR)is home to the westernmost
vineyard in Santa Barbara County.
Just outside,actually,ofthe Sta.
Rita Hills AVA's westernmost
boundary,so a marine influence
here is inescapable. Most
ofit—five acres — is pinot
noir, although four different
clones are planted,based
on fascinating variations
in soil type that are visible
almostfrom one acre to the
next. There's a half-acre of
part ofa much larger land grant
bestowed by the U.S. government
to one Jose Antonio de la Guerra.
Siemens and Grotenhuis are only
the eighth owners since.
We arrive at a space that's a
contrast to the endless raw beauty,
"It's all about the education of
the consumer," Kiah Jordan tells
me.Jordan,32,also a Westmont
graduate,is JCR's GM."Here,
they can see the importance of
place," he continues,pointing to
the dirt display,"and that all these
variations do something special to
the wines."
Jordan is also responsible for the
meticulous detail on the packaging,
from the red wax seal pressed onto
each bottle to a copy ofthe original
de la Guerra land grant printed on
the background ofeach label.
The jewel in the mix may be the
2012 Pinot Noir Reserve($75 and 93
points from Vinous'Josh Reynolds),
an annual bottling limited to the
two best barrels ofthe year."It's a
snapshot ofwhat went exceptionally
well that particular year,"Jordan
says. The'12 Reserve was all Clone
115 pinot, and it's a powerful,fleshy
wine,yet silky and lithe.(The'13
chardonnay here,too.
JCR's inaugural harvest
was 2010, which produced
72 cases. And the quality right
667 and Clone 777 pinot noir.)
out ofthe gate fanned early buzz.
Locally,the San Ysidro Ranch,with
5($60)is an homage to the clone
Gabe Saglie
Jalama Canon Ranch,
accessed by a nondescriptlane
somewhere between Highway 1
and Jalama Beach,is unspoiled
and sweeping. Varying elevations,
big views and natural beauty at
its best—towering trees,sloping
hillsides, wandering cattle. The
few log cabins that have been built
by hand are small but deluxe,and
they sometimes set the scene for
weddings and other private events.
As we cruise, we talk history.
After all,this property was once
soils found on the vineyard—one
more rocky, or more sandy,or
more clay-like than the next—are
marked with the specific pinot
clone planted in each.
an award-winning list, was one
ofits very first clients,and at the
Beverly Hills Hotel's Polo Lounge,
one particular JCR pinot appeared
on the list for a few weeks at$300 a
The wines,made by Alison
Thomson,retail from about$25 to
$75. With the quantity of2012 wines
dwindling, most vintage 2013JCR
wines have recently entered the
marketplace.JCR's 2015 harvest
featured low yields but intense fruit
and consistent quality, and it should
yield about 500 cases.
After my rugged ride, we drive
to the Lompoc Wine Ghetto nearby,
in that it is uniform and manicured.
home to JCR's tastii^ room.The
With harvest a few weeks away,
it's lush,too. The five-and-a-halfacre vineyard is a mere blip in
the expanse ofthis place. But
it's a special spot,and its unique
positioning—its exposure,its
steepness,its soils—are creating
some ofthe most interesting wines
industrial complex is well-known
to wine lovers,since nearly two
dozen boutique labels are based
here.JCR's wine bar, which abuts a
barrel room,welcomes guests with
Reserve is a combination ofClone
The 2012Pinot Noir Pommard
on the label because,that year,
extraordinary quality called for
a singular bottling. It's dense and
complex but fresh, with bright fruit
on the nose.
The 2012 Pinot Noir Estate($45)
is a blend ofall four pinot clones
and,with 22 months in barrel,
is earthy and rich, with refined
minerality. The 2014 Pinot Rose
($28)delivers strawberries on the
nose. The 2013 Chardonnay($30)
is zippy and bright,and I'd swear
there's a hint ofsalinity. Must be the
vineyard's unique proximity to the
sea. Location,location,location.
JCR Vineyard Tasting Room,1500:
E. Chestnut Court, Unit D,Lompoc.
316-1502 orwww.jcrvineyard.com.
Wine lover Gabe Saglie is senior
editorforwww.travelzoo.com. His
column appears every other week
a panoramic photo taken on the
in the Food section. Email him at
first day ofthe first harvest. Glass
[email protected] orfollow hirh
on Twitter @GabeSagUe.
cylinders filled with the range of