It’s an exciting time for California wine! The variety of styles produced and grapes grown here in CA is expanding beyond juicy Pinot Noir, ripe Cabernet Sauvignon, and oaky Chardonnay; not that these wines don’t have a place, but it’s great to see California’s potential beyond those steadfast traditions!
One of the winemakers leading this change and daringly exploring California’s wine potential is Nan Helgeland of Martian Ranch Winery. Nan and her husband, the award-winning writer/producer Brian Helgeland (Mystic River), always dreamed of making wine, so they bought property in Los Alamos and have released their first vintage, 2011. Nan and her winemaking partner Mike Roth are dedicated to biodynamic farming, native yeast fermentation, and minimal additions of sulphur. Nan and Mike are also dedicated to exploring varietals in CA beyond Pinot Noir, which is so ubiquitous in Santa Barbara. Her vineyards are planted with mostly Rhone and Spanish varietals – all grapes that do well in the hot, dry, rolling hills of Santa Barbara County.
The name, Martian Ranch, is both an homage to Nan’s sons, Martin and Ian, and perhaps a nod to the foreignness of the kinds of grapes she’s using in California. Or as she puts it, “The Martian seen occasionally on the premises is as much as mystery to her as it is to anyone else.” Try these exciting, restrained, vibrant, and food-friendly wines and help support the next generation of California winemaking! And don’t miss our upcoming Mini Wine Blitz, next Friday, August 23rd at 18 Reasons, where you’ll get to taste and order a few wines from Martian Ranch, among many others!
2012 Martian Ranch ‘Down to Earth’ Rosé – $16.99
This is our kind of rosé! It’s based mostly on Grenache, much like our beloved Provencal-style rosé, but the ‘alien’ addition here is a bit of Tempranillo, a typically Spanish varietal. The nose is everything you’d expect in a rose from Southern France with a bit of added cherry and spice qualities. Dried herbs, tart cherry, and watermelon all combine on a dry and crisp palate that’s an easy pairing for a leisurely afternoon in the park!
2011 Martian Ranch ‘Uforic’ Albariño – $19.99
Albariño is a grape native to Galicia, Spain where it makes light, crisp, and brightly tart white wines that are a perfect match for any of the fresh seafood that abounds in Northwest Spain. Martian Ranch’s Albariño is a fresh take on this Spanish varietal. It’s aged in foudre (large used barrels) for six months giving a richer texture to this sometimes overly austere grape. Floral and stone fruit aromas are followed by a richly textured palate and a solid acidic backbone that is sure to stand up to anything from poultry to pork!
2011 Martian Ranch ‘Redshift’ Syrah – $21.99
The Martian Ranch ‘Redshift’ is a great homage to the Syrah’s of the Northern Rhone. 95% Syrah blended with just 5% Viognier (not unlike Côte-Rôtie!) is fermented and aged in a combination of old and new French oak. Rustic dried herbal notes lead to a mid-weight palate that’s rich and full of dark blackberry and baking spice flavors. Just like Edwin Hubble’s discovery that the universe is expanding by observing the Red Shift phenomenon, we’re glad that Martian Ranch is expanding California’s Rhone-style credentials!
18th Hour Cafe On Thursday, August 22nd, we will be pouring a selection of wines from Martian Ranch Winery! 6-10PM, Drop-In.
Tasting of wines from Martian Ranch Winery: Friday, August 16 6:30-8:30PM at Bi-Rite Divisadero. Space is limited, RSVP here to reserve your spot.
18th Hour Cafe – Every Thursday, 6-10PM, Drop-In.
Mini Wine Blitz – Friday, August 23, 6-8PM, Ticketed