Tama Takahashi
October 11, 2013 | MIscellaneous Wine Fun! , Wine Country Travel | Tama Takahashi

Brander Vineyards and

What could be better on a gloriously sunny Southern California Saturday than to visit the friendly winery of Fred Brander? Known around Santa Barbara wine country as the "King of Sauvignon Blanc", Fred "really knows his stuff"--in the words of one of our group members. Born in Argentina, Fred obtained a degree in chemistry at Harvey Mudd College before studying enology at UC Davis. He and his family established the winery in 1975--it was one of the first in Santa Barbara County and was the first to receive a gold medal at a major wine competition.

Brander Vineyard

Brander originally focussed exclusively on hand-crafted Sauvignon Blanc and its many expressions. Among them were Cuvée Natalie, named after his daughter and in the off-dry style of French Alsace, and Cuvée Nicholas, named after his son and a great example of the opulent Bordeaux style. Later, 10 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, 6 acres each of Merlot and Chardonnay, 3 acres of Cabernet Franc and 2 acres of Semillon were added to the 13 acres of Sauvignon Blanc.

Fred Brander in vineyard

We visited Brander Vineyard as part of the Meetup group Inside Wine Santa Barbara that I and co-founder Lila run. Marketing manager Jeff Butler facilitated our visit; Fred and his assistant winemaker Fabian Bravo split us into two groups to tour the vineyards and the winery. We learned some canopy management in the vineyard--like using adjustable trellis systems, how to orient the vineyard rows to maximize sun exposure to each vine, and the balancing of leaf and fruit to maximize ripeness and flavor. Fred showed us some newly planted Sauvignon Blanc vines and explained their use of biodynamic principles in tending the vineyard.

Brander Vineyard winery

In the winery, we saw the Cabernet Sauvignon fermenting in bins and learned about the punching down of the cap and testing of the alcohol level. Fred poured us fizzy, cloudy and utterly delicious tank samples of the Sauvignon Blanc fermenting in steel tanks. Not only delicious, but the fermenting juice is full of vitamin B!

the crew at Brander Vineyard

Afterwards, we had a lovely picnic lunch with Brander wines in the courtyard shaded with sycamore trees. Everyone enjoyed savoring the excellent Brander Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon in this bucolic setting. If you are planning a trip to Santa Ynez wine country, make sure to stop in the congenial Brander Vineyard tasting room! Don't forget the free Touring & Tasting concierge service which can help plan wine country travel around the country, with all the best places to tour and taste.

picnic at Brander Vineyards

In conjunction with the Santa Barbara Vintners’ Association annual Celebration of Harvest weekend, Brander Vineyards will hold a special tasting on Saturday, October 12th to honor this year’s vintage with a selection of great Brander wines, handmade pizzas and salad from David Checchini of Cecco Ristorante, and acoustic guitar music from Chris Fossek. Just $20 for the general public; $10 for Brander wine club members. Email info@brander.com or call 805.688.2455.


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