2006 Wine and Fire – Santa Rita Hills – Part 4

(l to r) Jay, Gray Hartley, Eric, Frank Ostini

More interviews from the weekend-long Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance Wine and Fire festival.  Join us as we talk with luminary Richard Sanford, who pioneered the planting of vineyards in the area in the early ’70s.  And, we hear from Wes Hagen, Steve Pepe, and Peter Work about what it takes to put on an event like this.  Plus, Kenneth Gummere from Kenneth Crawford, and finally the dynamic duo of Gray Hartley and Frank Ostini from the Hitching Post, as we all get a little ‘Sideways.’


Richard Sanford of Alma Rosa Winery and Vnyds: www.almarosawinery.com
Wes Hagen and Steve Pepe Clos Pepe Vnyds: www.clospepe.com
Peter Work of Ampelos Cellars: www.ampeloscellars.com
Kenneth Gummere of Kenneth Crawford Winery: www.kennethcrawford.com
Gray Hartley and Frank Ostini of Hitching Post Winery: www.hitchingpost2.com

– Santa Rita Hills Wine Growers Alliance: www.staritahills.com

Sponsor: North Berkeley Wine: www.northberkeleywine.com

Click Below to Play the Show:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Show #120
(1:04:27 min 29 MB)

15 Responses to “2006 Wine and Fire – Santa Rita Hills – Part 4”

  1. 1 Brian Crabtree Nov 24th, 2006 at 4:38 pm

    On balance, I thought the series was great. The technology has its limits, but I was able to hear everything. Others have mentioned the focus on SRH to the seeming exclusion of other regions, but hey, it’s your show, you put Grape Radio together, and you’re entitled to produce shows on whatever you want. The success is in the listening. I’ve listened to them all and enjoyed them all. I visited Santa Barbara County late last May/early June, just before Wine and Fire, but barely scratched the surface. Between this series and the series earlier, I am definitely planning to return and explore a little more closely, hopefully meet some of these guys. I recently opened a 2002 pinot from Fiddlestix and found it a bit unidimensional, but an email exchange with Eric (thanks, Eric) and listening to this program helped me better understand the need for a bit more bottle time on some of these wines to fully appreciate their complexity. Having said all this, I’m looking forward to programs on other regions and other varietals.

    An comment about the festival, not a criticism, is that there were a few panel speakers who were very new to the business, at least one without a single vintage in bottle. I can understand the intent of balancing the older, experienced growers and producers with younger, newer energy, but these kind of turned into brief presentations that reminded me of an Academy Award winner thanking everyone, literally including his dog in the back of the tent, but not that much depth on the grape or the wine. It is quite interesting, though, how quickly someone can get from a wine epiphany in a restaurant to launching his own label. With the additional, more substantive discussions, contributions of these relative newcomers adds interest. I wonder if they are awash in money, debt or both. That would be an interesting show, as well, although maybe a little taboo to explore in a show. How does one start out in the business and fund an operation? I was fascinated by Steve Clifton’s story at the Brewer-Clifton website, which I read as a result of the show. He started in the tasting room, got into production, one thing led to another, etc.

    Thanks for a great series in a continuing benefit to all of us out here. Looking forward to the next one.

  2. 2 GrapeRadio Bunch Nov 27th, 2006 at 10:35 am

    Brian, you bring up an interesting point about the nature of some of the discussion. I doubt that much of this was scripted, and I too noticed there was at times more of a ‘hail-fellow-well-met’ tone to the monologues, rather than describing the vineyard or the wine in question. Some of this is certainly appropriate, but I’m sure we all hope it doesn’t diminish the substantive discussion too much.

    I think you’re right — this was due somewhat to newer people paying homage or giving credit to longer-term growers in the AVA. Given that the SRH is a new AVA as well as a current hot-bed for the “wondergrape,” it doesn’t surprise me to see many more newer faces show up here, rather than in the Russian River, for instance.

    But, it’s all good, and I for one like the idea of newer people following their passion/desire/hobby/addiction. I mean, we’re going to need a steady stream of [new] growers to take the reins, or we’ll be out of wine by Tuesday. [g]


  3. 3 TimF Nov 28th, 2006 at 5:57 pm

    This was a great series. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I commute an hour on the train each way every day and I could easily listen to your show for all 10 hours. I can’t get enough of this stuff. You guys ask great questions and people are very open to talking with you. Keep up the great work!

  4. 4 Michael Dec 3rd, 2006 at 11:43 am

    Brian and Jay……the Santa Rita Hills series was the best yet! Period. I actually listened to the entire 4 hourlong segments of it in a row, nonstop. The ONE question I was hoping would be asked of Kathy Joseph of Fiddlehead was her “take” on the grapes she gets from Oregon’s Willamette Valley vs. the Santa Rita Hills grapes……..their differences, does she treat them both the same, etc. And speaking of Willamette Valley, I bet your listeners would be blown away if you took your microphones (wireless or not) up to the annual July Pinot Festival in McMinville! Many of us can’t afford the $800 ticket (which are usually sold out by February!!) I think that would be an awesome series! Please consider it?


  5. 5 sarah Dec 4th, 2006 at 12:28 am

    What? OK I am on EVERY e-mail listand even harvested. I never heard about wine and fire for fall … ? WTF?

  6. 6 GrapeRadio Bunch Dec 5th, 2006 at 10:32 am

    So Sarah, I will give you the inside scoop. They are thinking about June 29, 30, July 1. This COULD CHANGE. However, I would highly suggest you reserve a spot on your schedule during that weekend. You snooze, you lose. 🙂


  7. 7 Peter Cargasacchi Dec 5th, 2006 at 10:55 am

    Not sure if it has been mentioned but there are some great pictures of the event at http://www.grape-nutz.com/visits/cc/06_wfire/wnf06p1.html

    We were somewhat low key in getting information about the event out. The idea was to keep it relatively small and intimate so folks could get face time with and ask questions directly to the winemakers during the events.

    Sarah, I’m sorry you did not hear about the event in time to attend. Many of our Sta. Rita Hill Alliance members have an electronic emailing system for more frequent information updates to their mailing lists, (though some did send out information by snail mail.)

    We are looking towards doing the event again this coming June. If you want to be kept updated you can email me at peter@pointconcepcionwines.com and I’ll shoot you an email when we know more about the event and ticket availability. Or contact any of your favorite Sta. Rita Hills members.

    We are planning to keep it relatively small again. The intimacy is what pulled it together. People enjoyed having the winemakers pouring the wines and them being available for questions.

  8. 8 GrapeRadio Bunch Dec 5th, 2006 at 11:10 am

    Peter, I like, admire and respect you. However, I am not sure I would prefer to use the word “intimate”. 🙂

    Peter, I know this event fills up very quickly. It is a hot ticket. Could we convince you to lets GR know when the tickets come up for sale? We can then send an email to all our newsletter subscribers.


  9. 9 Vincent Fritzsche Dec 8th, 2006 at 12:04 pm

    I liked some of this series, but on the whole it wasn’t your best effort. As mentioned above, some of the panelists just didn’t have a lot to offer, at least at this point. And I’ll add that a couple of the drop in guests at the parties seemed a little tipsy and not especially insightful. I like the fun tone you guys have with your programs, even with the most serious geek content. But this series probably could have been two parts, not four.

  10. 10 GrapeRadio Bunch Dec 8th, 2006 at 12:23 pm

    These were not parties per se but there was drinking. I did not feel that any of the speakers were buzzed.

    I agree that some of the panelists could have been stronger. Not sure how I would feel if were a panelist and got cut out of the show. I do not want to hurt anyone, but at the same time, I need to be more demanding when it comes to content. You have given me something to think about.


  11. 11 Tim Meranda Dec 13th, 2006 at 6:11 pm

    You guys know what I think about your over the top coverage of PN. However, this was a very enjoyable series. Stitched together into a single serving it proved just the thing to keep my mind occupied while driving a grueling 1300 mile two day trip sales trip. While I’m not a big fan of listing to other people talking about wine I’m not drinking, your speakers concentrated more on the personal and professional side rather than on the attributes of the wines themselves. However, do us all a favor and get proper microphones. Open mic’s just don’t cut it.

    I don’t know if you planned it or not, but the funniest thing I’ve ever heard on Grape Radio was Jay’s response to Brian’s question about too much California PN programming. Jay responded something to the effect, “don’t worry, we have a change of pace coming…we are having a series on Burgundy coming up!”

  12. 12 GrapeRadio Bunch Dec 13th, 2006 at 7:45 pm

    Tim, can you elaborate on your comments? I am not sure how you felt about “concentrated more on the personal and professional side rather than on the attributes of the wines themselves” aspect.

    In terms of mic’s, I am trying to save enough money to get wireless mic’s so we can have each speaker covered. The are expensive so it’s not easy. I am trying, I swear.

    It took us 10 minutes to recover from the laughter after my retort to Brian’s comment.


  13. 13 Tim Meranda Dec 14th, 2006 at 7:39 am

    To me it is not fun to listen to a winemaker talk about the specifics of a particular wine if I cannot taste it myself at the same time He might as well be describing the dark side of the moon as I have no reference to what he is speaking about.

    However in this series, the seminar speakers didn’t dwell too much on the particular wines they had presented. Instead the spend the majority of their time talking about how they got in the wine business, the origins of their vineyards, their relationships with other winemakers, the geography of the area, etc. All of these topics are of interest to any wine geek, even if he isn’t drinking the same wine at the same time.

  14. 14 petercargasacchi Dec 20th, 2006 at 4:48 am

    We have picked the date for the next Wine and Fire event. It will be the weekend of June 22, 23, 24, which coincides with the Flower Festival in Lompoc.

    In keeping with the primordial urges we all attempt to suppress, (some suppress with more success than others,) the main event for the Saturday will be a trial by fire… (Not really.)

    Actually, we will be putting a hallowed wine concept on trial. We will attempt to prove or disprove the notion of Terroir. Yes… Terroir on Trial.

  15. 15 Peter Work Mar 12th, 2007 at 8:56 am

    Tickets are now available for the 2007 Wine & Fire.

    Check out http://www.staritahills.com for details.

    And yes, we are begging Jay and Eric to come back and do a full report again!

Leave a Reply

Recent Posts

Monthly Archives



GrapeRadio is a wine talk show. Show topics cover issues such as the enjoyment of wine, wine news and industry trends - the hallmark of the show is interviews with world class guest (winemakers, vineyards owners, wine retail / wholesale leaders, restaurateurs and sommeliers). The scope of the show is international so expect to hear many guests from around the world.

GrapeRadio has received numerous awards and honors including the 2008 James Beard Award for excellence in Journalism.

GrapeRadio has been the subject of numerous news reports by: The New York Times, Business Week, CNN, The Financial Times of London, and Wired Magazine.