What does this mean?
A couple of things, starting with wine labels likely will show off the new AVA name, Ballard Canyon. In my view, on some level there is a science to this, and on the other hand, it becomes marketing.
As Ballard Canyon is noted for producing stellar Rhones (like Viognier,Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Petite Sirah, among others), it can become a platform for the wine market. Just like the Oakville AVA of the Napa Valley has showcased itself as being a premiere Cabernet region, Ballard Canyon will have the same opportunity. I had a chance to discuss the new AVA with Keith Saarloos of Saarloos and Sons. Keith says, "It's like a dot on the map or a zip code. Every sommelier has to know Ballard Canyon now." With the new AVA recognized officially, I asked Keith how he will label his wines that have been labeled Santa Ynez Valley (other wineries have opted for Santa Barbara County). He said, "Ballard Canyon AVA."
In a previous article I wrote about 'How To Buy Wine Like A Champion', I suggested buying very specific wines from regions that are best suited for their respective grapes. It is kind of supporting the similar concept of ordering a steak at a steak house, and fish at a fish house. So do not drink Chardonnay from Mexico or buy Cabernet from Alaska. It would, however, be wise to consider Rhones from Ballard Canyon.
Many Santa Barbara wine industry professionals and residents have been clear in their interest to stay on the smaller side in Santa Barbara County, with a smaller community,and simply produce stellar wines. So far, Santa Barbara has done an excellent job of maintaining more of a community vibe, less build-up, and less big brand business which is often seen in other wine regions. That'old-school' vibe is a big piece of the romance to Santa Barbara wine country in my view.
From my years of consuming great wines from Ballard Canyon, the high quality resonates an excitement for me each time I simply look at a bottle. So if it is tasting the wine, or simply being there in Ballard Canyon, it is no doubt an exciting place. Get out and explore for yourself if you haven't already!
Ballard Canyon Details:
- Location: Middle of Santa Ynez Valley between Highways - 101, 154, and 246.
- Rusack Vineyard sits almost in the very middle of Ballard Canyon.
- Acres: 7,794
- Climate: Hills protect from wind and maintain more heat. Cooler nights help the acidity and the fruit to have a longer growing season that can produce more complex wines.
- Soil: Sand mixed with some clay, limestone, chalk, and chert.
- Ballard Canyon is the smallest AVA in Santa Barbara County with less than 600 acres planted. Ballard Canyon is in a special and unique place as it sits between one of the coolest regions of Sta Rita Hills and the hottest AVA in Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara.
Vineyards and Some Varietals:
- Larner -Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre
- Rusack - Syrah, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Zinfandel
- Beckman - Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvedre, Sauvignon Blanc
- Windmill Ranch (AKA Saarloos & sons) - Grenache, Syrah, Grenache Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon
- Stolpman - Sangiovese, Syrah, Roussanne, Grenache
- Tiera Alta - Grenache, Syrah, Viognier
- Jorian Hill - Viognier, Syrah
- Harrison Clarke