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Wednesday Wraparound: Los Olivos, ingredient labeling and the drought



Poor Santa Ynez Valley. First they took its western half away when they made the Santa, err, Sta. Rita Hills appellation. Then they took the eastern side away with Happy Canyon. Then they tore out a hunk of its heart with Ballard Canyon. Now the cannibals are attacking other vital organs with this proposal to establish a Los Olivos AVA.

Santa Ynez Valley is disappearing before our eyes.

I jest, of course. It’s actually a good thing. I always liked the Santa Ynez Valley appellation. I recognized its importance a long time ago, and gave it props by reviewing wines that my competitor reviewers wouldn’t. Gave them high scores, too, for the most part.

In hindsight, I can see that Santa Ynez Valley needed to be sub-appellated, although I didn’t particularly think about it at the time. So welcome to the club, Los Olivos. Now let’s see if we can tell the difference between your Syrah and, let’s say, those of Ballard Canyon. That’s the point of an AVA, isn’t it?

* * *

What ever happened to that idea of requiring wine bottle labels to include all ingredients? Once Ridge started doing it, there were rumors it was going to be mandated—or that the public would demand it. But nothing happened. I, myself, am not in favor. I think wineries can put that stuff up on their websites, but not on the front or back label, please!

* * *

It was bound to happen. Now we have water tastings—for $50!

I guess it will be poured by hydrologists, the H20 equivalent of mixologists. Pretty soon we’ll be seeing fashionable water bars springing up in the neighborhood.

* * *

Gus and I hit the road today for a brief trip. We’re headed up to Jess Jackson’s beloved Alexander Mountain Estate. The weather will be fine: sunny, dry and mild—unfortunately, given the drought. People are still keeping their fingers crossed, hoping for a wet March and April, but right now, it doesn’t look good.

More tomorrow.

  1. Fred Reed says:

    Nothing prevents and producer in Sta. Rita Hills, Happy Canyon, Ballard Canyon or Los Olivos from using a Santa Ynez Valley appellation on the label. There is still a lot of SYV without sun-appellations.

  2. Water tastings are about the most ridiculous thing I ever heard of. Plastic containers (mostly), shipped by air (those in glass containers are heavier), from who-knows-where. Consuming the ozone layer for what.

  3. Fred Brander says:

    Glad to see Steve’s comment on the proposed Los Olivos District AVA, whose boundaries define the “true” geographic Santa Ynez Valley, according to the USGS. To be precise, the Santa Ynez Valley AVA is located within an elongated geographic feature known as the Santa Ynez River Valley, which includes a number of small and larger valleys, such as the Santa Rita Valley, Santa Rosa Valley. Santa Ynez Valley, and Lompoc Valley. A major reason to establish the proposed AVA is to define and differentiate its valley topography and alluvial fan characteristics from the “canyons and hills” of its neighboring sub-AVAs.

  4. Perhaps SYV should institute conjunctive labeling, where any appellation on the label resides with the great appellation of SYV. Conjunctive labeling keeps a cohesive connection between Napa Valley and the many appellations [sub does not work for me as a descriptor] embodied within it’s borders and even some on the edges. I know that Sonoma has now instituted the same but not without some fussing & kicking, some by those who believe the connection lessens ‘their’ own nested AVA’s value. This has generally not been the case with Napa Valley’s institution of this regulation which has been in effect for decades…

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