Creative New Labels Nine New Santa Barbara County Wines WORDS BY
Wendy Thies Sell
Wine wasn’t the only thing flowing this year in Santa Barbara wine country. Creative juices were, too. The number of new wine labels launched locally in 2021 reached double digits, bringing the total to more than 275 different labels. Here are the stories behind nine new Santa Barbara County wine brands and their passionate producers.
“The number one goal is to create ultra-premium wines and at the same time find this happy medium of pricing ($26–32 per bottle). I’m committed to making some of the best wines that I turn out of my cellar,” Clifton said. “We have grand plans for this, expanding the repertoire of wines.” This year, Clifton moved his wine production from Lompoc to the former Bridlewood property in Santa Ynez, which, he said, “opens up these great opportunities for maybe a My First Crush concert series.” It’s also a philanthropic endeavor; $2 from each bottle sold will be donated to the national campaign No Kid Hungry. Wines are available at www.PalminaWines.com. More info at www.MyFirstCrushWines.com.
My First Crush
New on the wine stage is someone who’s no stranger to the spotlight: singer/actor/teen idol Shaun Cassidy. He didn’t have to go far to find a winemaker to collaborate with on a wine project. Winemaker Steve Clifton (Palmina, La Voix and formerly Brewer-Clifton) is Cassidy’s neighbor in Santa Ynez. And their teenage sons have a rock band, but that’s another story. Shaun and Steve’s wine label, My First Crush Wines, is a nod to a love of wine. Cassidy also happened to be the first crush of thousands of his fans, this writer included. Clifton makes the wines: Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir rosé, Syrah and Pinot Noir. Production will increase to 1,200 cases this year. Those who purchase a full case receive a bottle autographed by Cassidy. 10 | EDIBLE SANTA BARBARA FALL 2021
“We came up with the name, and we were so pleased,” Laurie Duncan said. “It’s a bit of a handful, with the spelling and the pronunciation and description. But now that the labels are out there, everybody likes them. And it’s authentic.” The mythical sea creature on the label is inspired by a Scottish selkie. Donnachadh Vineyard, located just nine miles from the ocean, feels the maritime influence. The Duncans and their winemaker Ernst Storm are committed to making sure a sense of place comes through in the wines ($30–55), inspired by the cool-climate wines of Burgundy and the Northern Rhône. The Duncans also brought onboard Food & Wine’s 2016 Sommelier of the Year, Vilma Mazaite, as the winery’s general manager. More at www.Donnachadh.com.
DONNACHADH VINE YARD
MY FIRST CRUSH
Donnachadh Family Wine Company has released its first estate wines: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah and rosé of Syrah. Texas business entrepreneur Drew Duncan and his wife, Laurie, planted a vineyard on their 285-acre ranch along the Santa Ynez River in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. Donnachadh (pronounced: DON nuh kuh) is the ancestral Gaelic name for Duncan.