Los Olivos wineries best bets for pinot noir and creativity include Coghlan Vineyards, Longoria Cellars, Dragonette Cellars, and Tessa Marie Wines. Los Olivos is a charming little town consisting of nothing but wine tasting rooms, gift shops, and small restaurants. It’s dedicated to you – the wine tourist. Because of our focus on pinot noir we were quite selective in which tasting rooms we visited. If you are looking for Los Olivos wineries best bets for whites you have more choices to discover. Los Olivos lies about an hour east of Santa Barbara along highway 154 and only a few miles from U.S. 101.
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At Coghlan, be sure to admire the jewelry. It happens that Coghlan was one of the wines at the Pinot Summit 2012 in San Francisco. When we asked the Coghlans which business subsidized the other, they replied it was about even. They have three pinot noirs whose labels reflect their semi-precious gems business: Diopside (2009, Santa Rita Hills, $40), Sapphire (2009, La Encantada Vineyards, $47), and the 2010 Fluorite (clone 115, Santa Rita Hills, $37). Each of the three is unique and displays the variety of flavor and aroma traits characteristic of the pinot noir grape.
Longoria lists seven pinots on their website. We tasted two in Los Olivios and were quite impressed. Prices tend to be in the $50 range, a little out of our range, but fairly priced.
Dragonette Cellars is a true family operation, owned and operated by the three Dragonette brothers, their wives, and a brother-in-law who was in the tasting room when we were there. Their treatment of pinot noir grapes from the justifiably famous Fiddlestix vineyard is about as good as it gets. We were especially impressed by the 2008 MJM, a Rhône-style blend of syrahs from several vineyards. According to our notes, the MJM was nearly sold out and only available to club members. But the tasting room guy made a phone call and got permission to sell us a bottle. We drank it with great pleasure in late March.
Tessa Marie Wines is a must-visit. We’ll answer your two obvious questions first. Yes, there is a Tessa Marie. Her picture is below. She’s Fess Parker’s granddaughter and comes by her winemaking skills genetically. (If you’ve never tried any Fess Parker Wines, you should.) The second question is the location of the tasting room. Do not believe Google maps. Our map above is the correct location.
Now about Tessa Marie’s wines. No pinot noir here — Tessa Marie prefers Italian varietals. Her first love is sangiovese. We tried her 2009 vermentino which (not surprisingly) has a faint vermouth finish. You’ve never heard of the vermentino grape? Neither had we. She also makes a sparkling vermentino that is, to put it mildly, interesting.
Los Olivos is worth a full day if you have the time. We spent a half-day there and really felt like we had just scratched the surface.