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BEHIND THE VINE

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Roark Wine Co. wines

by Hana-Lee Sedgwick

Hana-Lee Sedgwick is a digital advertising executive by day and wine consultant and blogger by night. Born and raised in Santa Barbara, she fell in love with the world of wine while living in San Francisco after college. Hana-Lee loves to help people learn about and appreciate wine, putting her Sommelier certification to good use. When not trying new wines or traveling, she can be found practicing yoga, cooking, entertaining, and enjoying time with friends and family. For more information and wine tips, visit her blog, Wander & Wine, at wanderandwine.com.

Under the Radar: Roark Wine Co.

Ryan Roark in his Buellton facility

R

ecently, I was introduced to Roark Wine Company. At Roark, there’s no fancy tasting room or huge production. In fact, there’s no real tasting room at all. If you go to visit Roark to taste the wines, what you get is an inside look into the world of this oneman operation, run by Ryan Roark. The facility, which is located in Buellton’s Industrial area, is a relatively small space with barrels stacked up to the ceiling, bottles that have yet to be labeled, and lots of cool artwork adorning the walls (some of which was created by Ryan’s wife). It’s just a real,

honest glimpse into the world of this hardworking individual. Ryan grew up in Texas and attended college at Texas A&M. Although never having any direct exposure to wine country while in Texas, his uncle was a geologist and often worked in vineyards, introducing Ryan to the world of wine. It was while studying abroad in France that he started to learn about wine in depth, which led to a viticulture internship at a small family winery in the Loire Valley. During his internship, he learned every aspect of the wine business, from farming and winemaking

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to sales and marketing. Soon, a new passion had been formed! After internships in Napa and New Zealand, Ryan moved to Santa Barbara and fell in love with the area while working at a vineyard management company before assisting other winemakers such as Andrew Murray. In 2009, he started making his own wine on the side, purchasing grapes from some of the vineyards he worked with in years prior. Ryan’s approach to winemaking is minimalistic, yet incredibly hands-on. You will just as easily find him out in the vineyards getting his hands dirty as you would in his facility making wine, sampling, and testing until everything is just right. While always trying to minimize costs to keep his wines affordable, Ryan also takes a natural approach to winemaking, employing native yeasts and forgoing the use of harsh chemicals whenever possible. The resulting wines have a certain simplicity yet are unique. Producing about 1,500 cases annually, most of the wines are in the $18-$30 range and are meant to be consumed young. You’re not going to find robust, overly

oaked wines in his collection. They’re a little different, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. All of the wines I tasted were sampled directly from the barrel and yet to be bottled but showing great character and texture. The 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, made with a blend of neutral oak and stainless steel, is a nice, light wine with subtle citrus and minerality. His 2013 Chenin Blanc, the varietal he’s most known for, is rich and round with herbaceous aromas and slight oak nuances. He also makes a Cabernet Franc with a combination of whole cluster and destemmed grapes. It’s earthy and pungent, with spicy jalapeno and briary raspberry characteristics. I think the best way to understand what Roark Wine Co. is all about is to make an appointment to visit the facility and meet Ryan Roark in person. In my opinion, there’s no better way to taste wines than with the person who made them! Plus, it’s always fun to support the smaller guys, right? Cheers. 

Roark Wine Company 84 Industrial Way - unit C, Buellton (805) 736-8000

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