Another national wine magazine has announced its top wines of the year, and Cambria Winery was given top honors for its 2006 Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir.

Wine Enthusiast’s tasting director Joe Czerwinski announced the annual “Top 100” list for the magazine, headquartered in Mt. Kisco, N.Y.

While most of the wines honored traditionally received high scores during the tastings, he wrote, “many go far beyond the numbers assigned to them, either for their extraordinary quality-to-price ratio, their immediate drinkability, or their uniqueness. All are diverse and offer a window into the terroir from which they were made.”

Of Cambria,

Czerwinski said, “Cambria combines high quality with a reasonable price, and is made in sufficient qualities as to be generally available.” (The award-winning wine retailed for $20, according to Wine Enthusiast.)

Unfortunately, as is often the case by the time wines are reviewed, Cambria has sold out of the 2006 Julia’s Vineyard pinot bottled in the standard 750 ml. size, a tasting room staff member told me Dec. 5. The award winner remains available in 350 ml. bottles, however.

Three other Santa Barbara County wines made the Wine Enthusiast’s list: 2006 Au Bon Climat Chardonnay, Bien Nacido Vineyards, Santa Maria Valley, 96 points, $35, 13th place; 2007 Melville Carrie’s Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, 97 points, $52, 18th place; and 2007 Fess Parker Viognier, Santa Barbara County, 93 points, $23, 37th place.

For more information about Wine Enthusiast and the Top 100 Wines list, visit www.winemag.com/homepage/index.asp?adid=WENET.

Holiday Weekend in Wine Country

Area residents and visitors alike took to the roads of northern Santa Barbara County Dec. 5 and 6 to partake in Holiday Weekend in Wine Country, an event designed to showcase local wines and gifts for holiday gift giving.

Saturday, I visited Costa de Oro, Cambria, Riverbench and Tres Hermanas tasting rooms as part of the Santa Maria Valley Wine Country “Wine Passport” weekend. Sunday I attended open houses at Clos Pepe, Ampelos Cellars and Flying Goat Cellars, all in Lompoc.

Tasting room managers and winemakers expressed gratitude for the large crowds that packed their sites Saturday. Sunday appeared quieter, perhaps due in part to the rain forecast, which may have spurred many to get back home sooner than normal.

Kudos to all the hard-working tasting room staff members who worked long hours pouring wines, serving cookies and snacks, washing glasses and cheerfully sharing details about the region’s wine. Tasting room employees are the unsung heroes of Santa Barbara County’s wine industry.

Team earns ‘Excellence’ honor

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded Paso Robles-based Central Coast Vineyard Team with the federal agency’s “Sustained Excellence in Integrated Pest Management Award” for its continued efforts in pest management.

Since it first joined the EPA’s Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program in 2002, the CCVT has certified many Central Coast vineyards with its Sustainability in Practice, or SIP, program. The SIP designation requires that vineyards provide CCVT with detailed documentation and a whole-farm system approach to vineyard management.

One such SIP certified vineyard in Santa Barbara County is Ampelos Cellars, whose vineyards are located in the Sta. Rita Hills.

CCVT encourages viticulturists to wean themselves off high-risk materials used in conventional farming methods, and instead adopt biologically-integrated techniques that use low-risk herbicides and managed vegetative cover crops, and make use of a grower-to-grower approach to share current information about alternative practices.

The CCVT joined the EPA’s Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program in 2002. For more information about CCVT, visit www.vineyardteam.org.

Laurie Jervis is a freelance writer, editor and vineyard manager. She can be reached at winecountrywriter@yahoo.com.

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