Exclusive offer: 2/10/2023 — Bookends of Santa Barbara (The Hilt and Jonata)

Offer available through Monday, 2/13/2023, or as inventory lasts.

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Hi everyone –

We get the question often regarding wine travel: Where should we go?

If price is no object, and you’re ready for some long flights, we often suggest core handful of locations.

Porto, Portugal … because it’s frigging beautiful, and full of incredible wines and amazing food.

Verona, Italy ... because it’s frigging beautiful, and full of incredible wines and amazing food.

Barossa Valley, Australia … because it’s frigging beautiful, and full of incredible wines and amazing food.

Are you noticing a pattern?

We suggest these destinations not just because they are frigging beautiful and full of incredible wines and amazing food. We suggest them because you can find a wide variety of wines in one region, from the lightest of whites to the deepest of reds. And that’s important so you don’t get bored by yet another bottle of fill-in-the-blank.

But if you want our choice for a domestic destination that does the same thing, we highly suggest you head over to Santa Barbara County! Here you’ll find some of the best Pinots and Chards made in the world, along with some of the top Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Cabernet-based wines. It’s all about the terroir.

Santa Barbara 101

Rather than type out all the details, I made a quick video for you:

The Hilt Chardonnay 2018, Sta. Rita Hills

We had the pleasure of visiting The Hilt in February of 2022, on the far western edge of the Sta. Rita Hills. Drew Stapp of The Hilt put us in his big truck and gave us a great tour of the vineyards and helped me get geographical perspective on the area.

The vineyards of western Sta. Rita Hills
The newest plantings at The Hilt, on the top of the hills in western Sta. Rita Hills.
Extreme weather here in the western edge of Sta. Rita Hills, just a few miles from the ocean.
Drew Stapp of The Hilt and Jonata

This is a showstopper of a Chardonnay, with that rare combination of power, detail, and acidity. The impact of the vineyards proximity to the ocean can be tasted with every sip, making for a Chardonnay that (dare I say it) I’d reach for over anything from Napa Valley.

It’s without a doubt one of the top Chardonnays made today. Under 3000 cases were produced.

See the price? We are selling this FAR cheaper. Like tell-all-your-friends cheaper.

Tasting notes from the winemaker:

Vibrant, toasty, and reserved. Fresh pineapple. Lemon curd with powdered sugar lift. Lithe and graceful. Exotic and saline. Like oyster brine. Long life ahead. Remains taut and reserved with a fine level of soft and supple fruit. Loquat, green apple, chamomile tea, ginger, lime pith and agave. Absolute finesse with a touch of the raw energy from the cold Pacific winds. A wine of place and of attitude. Cold and steely with an undeniable touch of warmth, generosity, and overall pleasure.

Winemaker Matt Dees. https://www.thehiltestate.com/media/u2qj40w2/2019-information-sheet.pdf

The perfect food to have with this wine? Seafood pasta with shrimp, scallops, and garlic! Photo and receipt from Christina’s Cucina: https://www.christinascucina.com/seafood-pasta-with-shrimp-and-scallops-and-garlic/

Jonata “Todos” 2018, Ballard Canyon

Heading east from Sta. Rita Hills, as soon as you cross the highway, you enter Ballard Canyon and the world of amazing red wines.

“Todos” means “Everyone” and showcases all 10 grape varieties grown on the Jonata property. This particular vintage is 45% Syrah, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Petit Verdot, 9% Petite Sirah, 5% Merlot and 6% misc other varietals.

Take note: our price on this is pretty special (far lower than what you see here), and will not be available again.

Here’s a nice little video of winemaker Matt Dees talking about the wine:

I love this wine for the combination of dark and sexy black fruits balanced by floral aromas and pepper. There is a ton going on in the glass. Medium to full bodied, but not overpowering.

“Savory, earth-driven and lifted by floral aromatics. Violet candies, balsamic, nutmeg, espresso bean, black pepper, black cherry and ripe blackberry. Stunning, graceful and complete. Polished and drinking beautifully today directly out of the bottle. The definition of balance. Robust dark fruit, buoyed by energetic acidity and buffered by soft and coating tannins. A seamless and approachable Todos. Highlighting syrah on the nose with a strong cabernet sauvignon voice on the palate. The complex and layered structure is a ten-variety ensemble effort. Fascinating and sumptuous.”

Matt Dees, Winemaker. https://www.jonata.com

And what to have with it? Santa Maria BBQ!

In Santa Barbara County, “BBQ” is not pork and not a rack of ribs. There’s no sticky sauce. Instead, it’s a perfectly grilled and roasted tri tip steak, cooked over oak and called Santa Maria BBQ. There are a number of restaurants out there that specialize in this, including Hitching Post II (where Sideways was filmed) and our personal favorite, Jocko’s.

Learn more about Santa Maria BBQ here: https://saltandwind.com/santa-maria-bbq-california/

This is not Santa Maria BBQ, but it’s a very pretty picture I took of meat on the grill. Yum.

The terroir of Sta. Rita Hills: learn from the expert

We were super lucky on our trip last year to happen into some time with geologist, podcaster, and artist Brenna Quigly, who is the creator of the amazing Roadside Terroir podcast. Season one, episode two is called “Rita’s Balance,” all about the Sta. Rita Hills, and I highly suggest you check it out (with a glass of The Hilt or Jonata in hand, of course): https://www.roadsideterroir.com/podcast/episode/400c109e/s1e2-ritas-balance

Buying advice

Simple advice here: I suggest you buy them both. They are great examples of just how good the wines of Santa Barbara County can be. However, take note that the price on both of the wines is amazing and will probably never be possible again. If you’re into really good wines, you might want to grab multiple bottles.

Thank you, everyone! We couldn’t do this without you!

Jason Kallsen
Sommelier and founder/owner of Twin Cities Wine Education

Offer is open Friday at 3:00pm central until Monday at 6:00pm central, or as inventory lasts.

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