Local Santa Barbara Bubbles
Note: With this year’s closures due to the pandemic, many wineries will only be selling these sparkling wines by the bottle.
By now, eating and drinking local in Santa Barbara County is easy. With our plethora of local farmers and chefs who embrace local ingredients, along with the more than 200 wineries and over 21,349 acres planted to wine grapes, you can easily find locally grown food, wine and food products to enjoy every day of the year. Now, you can include sparkling wine too!
It can’t be called Champagne (since it’s not from the Champagne region of France), but much Sparkling Wine in Santa Barbara County is made in the same way, and some is made in even older methods.
Sparkling wine is a labor of love for many Santa Barbara County vintners, and the number of local producers has been growing slowly and steadily over the last 10 years. Today, with the popularity of an ancestral method resulting in a sparkling wine called Pét-nat, there are over 50 producers of sparkling wine in the county—with 16 right here in Los Olivos—making bubbly wine available here in town year-round.
Pét-nat is short for pétillant naturel, or natural bubbles, and is the oldest (and easiest) way to make sparkling wine. If differs from traditional Champagne production in that the wine is bottled before the fermentation is complete (so only 1 fermentation happens, partially in the bottle), no sugar or yeast is added for a second fermentation, and it’s usually unfiltered, and can be made from a multitude of grape varieties. It also takes a much shorter time than the traditional method, meaning more winemakers can get in on the bubbly action. Pét-nat’s bubbles typically don’t last as long as traditional sparkling wine, and the flavors can be all over the map, instead of the classic style and flavor profile you get from the méthode traditionnelle.
Los Olivos has a high concentration of these fun, fresh bubbles, as well as traditional sparkling wine, so it’s a perfect place to go bubbly tasting this Spring. Pét-nats include Carhartt’s sparkling rosé of Grenache or Sauvignon Blanc (availability is seasonal), Dreamcôte’s 3 different pét-nats (Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Verdejo) and Solminer, also with 3 different bubblies (all certified organic and biodynamic: Riesling, rosé of Syrah and Sparkling Syrah).
Some of the traditional sparklers in town are Blair Fox (also rosé made from Grenache), Coquelicot’s Sparkling Riesling, Fess Parker’s Fesstivity label (3 different sparkling wines from classic Blanc de Blancs to sparkling red Grenache plus a 30th Anniversary Magnum of sparkling Cuvée, all available at the Bubble Shack) and a few just outside of town (Demetria, Roblar, Vincent).
Plus, you can also get Italian DOCG (high-quality) Prosecco at Moretti Wine Co. and small-lot Loubud Blanc de Noirs & Goat Bubbles from Flying Goat (some of the oldest bubbles in the County) at local wine shop Community Craft.
Find more Santa Barbara County bubbles on our local sparkling wine map, and celebrate any season in Los Olivos: pop some local bottles!
Alexander & Wayne will have a new sparkling wine—Starry Nights—which is a traditional method bubbly, made from 50% Pinot Noir & 50% Chardonnay. Look for it soon!
Artiste makes an Effervescence Rosé in the méthode champenoise (traditional Champagne method) style that is 90% Chardonnay and 10% Carignane – a grape mostly grown in Southern France and used in blends to add flavor and richness.
This rosé of Grenache is crisp and fruity; just ask and they will pour you a taste!
From Blair: “Our 2017 Foxy Bubbles is a brut style, low sugar Grenache Rosé sparkling wine that is light and fresh and just fun for any bubbly situation!”
Brewer-Clifton 3D Vineyard Sparkling Blanc de Blancs is a labor of love. The entire process is done in-house, completely méthode champenoise (traditional Champagne method), with all tasks done by hand. It’s made from 100% Chardonnay, and it’s the yeasty, delicate bottle of bubbles you’d want to buy in France. Not always available, so ask for it.
This is Fess Parker’s all-bubbly, all-the-time tasting room with three different sparklers on their tasting menu. It’s located in the courtyard with Epiphany, and it’s open Friday – Monday only. Bottles sales are possible at Epiphany and Fess Parker Winery.
“The 2016 Fesstivity Blanc De Noir checks in as 82% Pinot Noir and 18% Chardonnay. It’s a more toasty effort that offers plenty of hazelnut and brioche nuances as well as background stone fruits. Made in a richer, more opulent style (think Krug as opposed to Cristal), it hits the palate with plenty of fruit and richness, terrific balance, no hard edges, and a great finish. This cuvée had 19 months of aging and 10 grams of dosage.” ~ Jeb Dunnuck
“The 2017 Fesstivity Blanc De Blancs has bright, fresh aromas of citrus and lemongrass with hints of biscuit and a subtle minerality. Flavors of green apple, citrus and mineral notes are made more complex with hints of caramel and toast.”
“Our 2016 Sibling Bubblery Sparkling Grenache is surprisingly refreshing despite its dark ruby color. Aromas of cranberry, red plum and baking spice are what you will encounter on the nose of this sparkling Grenache. The palate is loaded with juicy flavors of red plum and black raspberry made more delicious due to a hint of cinnamon. While Grenache is an unusual choice of varietal for a sparkling wine we can assure you that you will be better off for having put your preconceived notions aside and trying it. Enjoy! “
2016 Brut Rosé: “Generous passion fruit, raspberry and a hint of orange zest won’t be missed on the nose. Persistent bubbles dance in the flute, while bright tangy flavors of cranberry, raspberry, grapefruit are mellowed by a touch of vanilla on a pleasant palate that finishes with a clean, quenching acidity.”
2018 Brut Cuvée (2017 and 2015 Anniversary Magnums also available): “A complex sparkling blend comprised of roughly 88% Pinot Noir and 12% Chardonnay spending an extended time en tirage to bring out its unique characteristics. You won’t miss fine persistent bubbles floating to the top of your flute in a pale straw background. Light and flowery on the nose with a palate dominated by lemon cream, pear, roasted cashew and rounded out by a hint of nectarine.”
Carhartt’s sparkling wines change every year, but all are Pét-Nats, made in the méthode ancestrale in limited quantities. Recently, they’ve had two Sparkling releases: the Venture Nat/É Boi SB, a Pét-Nat made from Sauvignon Blanc, with a zingy acidity and fresh flavor profile, and the Nat/É Boi Sparkling Rosé made from Grenache with fresh fruit and floral notes, and balanced acidity.
Note: Pétillant Naturel, or Pét-Nat, is an even more ancient way to make sparkling wine than the widely-used méthode traditionelle or méthode champenoise originated in Champagne, France. In the méthode ancestral, the wine is bottle before it even finishes its first fermentation, so developing carbon dioxide as it goes. It’s not disgorged, often unfiltered and can be made from any grape variety.
Community Craft doesn’t make its own sparkling wine, but it carries local cult favorites Flying Goat (Goat Bubbles), Loubud Blanc de Blancs, Solminer Pét-Nat and Combe Pét-Nat (the only sparkling Trousseau in the world, a joint project between Rajat Parr and Pete Stolpman).
Sparkling Riesling from Coquelicot is available now! Made in the méthode-champenoise style by hand, the wine is made from organic grapes in their Solvang vineyard.
Their Sparkling Rosé is made from their award-winning Grenache Rosé. “Pale pink in color, this light-bodied sparkling offers delicious, tiny bubbles with undertones of strawberry, rose petal, bubblegum and wild fennel. The balance of fruit and vibrant acidity lead to hints of stonefruit, watermelon and a lasting finish.” It’s made from 100% Grenache with 12.5% ABV.
“On the palate, the Sparkling Papou is medium-bodied, creamy, clean and refreshing. Opens up with an enticing orange blossom bouquet and offers compelling notes of baked pear, crisp yellow apple and brioche developing into kumquat, lively mineral notes and a well-balanced finish.” It’s made from 45% Roussanne, 35% Marsanne, & 20% Grenache Blanc with 12.8% ABV.
In addition to still wine and hard cider, this effort from Brittany Zotovich also includes other Pét-Nat sparkling wines, which sell out every year
“Desert Flower” Sauvignon Blanc: “Bright! Green apple, gooseberry, and white peach. This is a “Pét nat”! Pétillant Naturel is a wine that is bottled before it has fully finished fermenting and sealed with a screw cap. The wine continues to ferment, building pressure with the conversion of sugar to alcohol and C02 resulting in some pretty awesome BUBBLES.”
Also available at times during the year are 2 other Pét-Nat sparkling wines: Sparkling Verdejo, Sparkling Grenache Blanc and Sparkling Riesling.
The team behind these fun labels makes a méthode champenoise sparkling wine called Flocking Fabulous Sparkling Wine, with floral, citrus, and pear aromas with a hint of yeast. The fine mousse brings forth the light citrus, smooth and round in the mouth. It has a round finish, with a note of grapefruit. This Sparkling wine is a blend of 63% Chardonnay, 34% Pinot Noir, and 3% Pinot Meunier grapes.
The Moretti Prosecco is an Italian Superiore DOCG Valdobbiadene Brut—a high-quality sparkling wine for just $25. It’s made in Italy, with oversight by owners Antonio & Jeni Moretti – he’s from northern Italy, but she’s studied and traveled the country so much that she knows it better than he does. From the Morettis:
“Sipping on this is like stepping into an impressionist painting. The bubbles remind you of the lightness of being that those paintings evoke. Yet underneath that easy, Mediterranean feeling, you can appreciate the layers of complexity, even smell the hints of flowers, meadow and fruit. Its palate (and palette) has a richness that defies its sparkle and shine.”
At Roblar, you can taste both the classic Sparkling Blanc de Blancs (Pinot Blanc) and Sparkling Rosé (Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc), and buy them by the glass or bottle. These wines are sourced and made in Sonoma County.
From Roblar: “Roblar extra dry sparkling wine is crafted from grapes grown at the Michel-Schlumberger Benchland Estate Vineyard in Sonoma County. This sparkling wine was produced by inducing in-bottle secondary fermentation and a minimum of 12 months of aging using the traditional méthode champenoise to create the tiny bubbles and complex flavors. It will continue to develop as it ages.”
Solminer is located at the flagpole at the center of town, in the same building at Kanea Wines (just north of the post office).
Solminer makes 3 different Pét-Nats, and their wines are “completely natural. Nothing but organic grapes creating clean, fresh bubbly.” The Sparkling Rosé of Syrah is exceptionally bubbly, and has a lovely earthy and fruity flavor. Their Sparkling Riesling offers something different to bubbly lovers – it is dry and citrusy, also floral with delicate bubbles.
They also make “Nebullite” Sparkling Syrah: “Whether there is a new star forming or simply a family holiday, certainly a champagne glass filled with the swirling, fizzing cosmos of red sparkling Syrah is intriguing and worthy of any celebration, large or small.”
Toretti makes a seasonal méthode-champenoise Rosé bubbly called Marlene Marie Brut Rosé. It’s made from Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Keep your eye out for it soon!
Vincent has a very dry Blanc de Blancs-style Sparkling Brut bubbly made from 100% Chardonnay and also a Sparkling Rosé. They are usually available by the glass and if you ask for a taste, you’ll probably get one. These wines are sourced and made in Sonoma County. Vincent is also open on New Year’s Day.