- To be the best, you have to learn from the best. That is why I chose to work at Star Lane last year above the many other great wineries in Santa Barbara County. My decision was simple: Not only do they have superb wines, their team is the highest of calibers. Tyler Thomas, (featured on far right) is rarely disputed, as the most highly touted winemaker in Santa Barbara County. Tyler has a Master's Degree in Viticulture/Enology and Plant Physiology from UC Davis, the wine world's most prestigious university for vines and wines.
The pictures above shows myself on top of the Star Lane membrane press machine, overseeing Sauvignon Blanc coming in straight from the vineyard into the press. Someone has to be on a ladder up top to help the forklift operator drop the half/ton macro bin full of grapes directly into the press with no grapes spilling over. This giant machine has inflatable balloons inside which slowly and gently press the juice off the skins. The machine is hooked up with a hose at the bottom which transfers all the finished juice to tanks (featured below) where fermentation will begin in tank.
For red wines the grapes are de-stemmed and then taken straight to tank for fermentation on the skins. Red wines go through whats known as a "maceration" period, which means the skins sit on the fermenting juice to extract color and tannins. After fermentation is complete and the exact amount of tannins have been absorbed through 'pump overs' in these giant stainless steel tanks, it is then time to drain the wine to another tank and remove all skins to then be pressed off. Remember; White wines get pressed off the skins immediately after being picked in the vineyard.
When it comes to making Chardonnay, Dierberg/Stare Lane is in a league of their own. For head winemaker Tyler Thomas, his goal and great ambition is to make the best Chardonnay in the world, and he claims that the feat is possible with the Dierberg Santa Maria Valley Vineyard. I agree whole heartily!! The cool climate in Santa Maria retains the natural acidity and the sandy loam soils, heavily infiltrated by ancient marine sediments adds beautiful minerality to complex citrus and tropical fruit flavors. It is for this reason that I buy my Chardonnay from Dierberg's Vineyard for the McKinney Family Vineyards Chardonnay as well.
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