Jamie Slone and wife Kym may be new to Santa Barbara, but they seem to be fitting right in. When you walk into their Santa Barbara tasting room, Jamie Slone Wines, you can guarantee you’ll be greeted with a warm welcome from the two of them and their cute dog, Sophie. I met with Jamie and Kym recently for my latest SB Sentinel column and had fun learning about their journey into the wine world over some of their wines.
Originally from Tucson, Arizona, Jamie Slone is a former pro race car driver and radio broadcasting exec who started appreciating wine during post-race wine tastings in Sonoma. That passion fueled Jamie and Kym to start searching for wine opportunities in Arizona, but it wasn’t until their twin daughters went to UCLA that they decided California was where they should go. They soon headed to the West Coast and actively began pursuing their wine dreams in one of their favorite places, Santa Barbara. Two long years later, Jamie Slone Wines is officially here!
The tasting room, which is in a space formerly occupied by a law office, is located in downtown Santa Barbara’s El Paseo complex, now formally known as the Wine Collection of El Paseo. Here, next to Casa De La Guerra, they join neighbors Grassini Vineyards, Au Bon Climat, Margerum Wine Co. and Happy Canyon Vineyards. The Spanish Colonial Revival style and charm of this historic location combined with an array of SBC wine producers make the Wine Collection of El Paseo a destination certainly worth noting, especially if the Funk Zone scene is not your thing.
The tasting room is decorated in the Spanish / Baroque / Moorish style which is unmistakingly old Santa Barbara, and there are little details (like gold embellished ceiling beams) that continue throughout the space, accented by high ceilings, white stucco walls and lots of wine bottles to remind you that you are indeed in a tasting room.
So what about the wine? Jamie Slone Wine focuses on limited production Bordeaux, Rhône and Italian varietals to showcase the diversity of the Santa Barbara County region. Sourcing grapes from a variety of vineyards allows winemaker Doug Margerum (of Margerum Wine Co. and Wine Cask fame) to focus on varieties that shine in different parts of SBC. Making roughly 1300 cases of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet and a Bordeaux blend, soon the label will introduce a Grenache Blanc and even a Super Tuscan.
We started the tasting with their 2013 Sauvignon Blanc ($28), which has aromas of brioche and citrus that leap from the glass. The grapes were grown in the warm climate of Happy Canyon and the wine was aged 50/50 in neutral French oak and stainless steel barrels. Next, the 2013 Aloysius Chardonnay ($47), made from grapes of the Sierra Madre Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley, just 15 miles from the Pacific and an optimal growing area for Chardonnay. Created using a blend of neutral and new French oak, the wine has lovely aromas of apples, lemon and wood, with a pretty fresh mouthfeel.
I also tasted the 2012 Pinot Noir ($49) which is made using a combination of grapes from three different vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills appellation. The wine smells complex with savory spices and herbal tea, followed by light cherry fruit flavors on the palate. Lastly, the 2011 BoRific ($48), a blend of 63% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Malbec and 1% Petit Verdot. Super approachable and full of ripe dark fruit and tobacco nuances, it’s one of those wines that will probably please many different palates.
Jamie and Kym’s personable and relaxed style make their wine tasting experience laid back and inviting, not stuffy and intimidating. Cheers!
**Tasting Room Notes**
Open: 12-6pm Daily
Location: 23 East De La Guerra – Santa Barbara, CA