Updated: Dec 9, 2020
I've been to Pence Vineyards & Winery a few times now, and I can honestly say they are producing some of the best wines in the Central Coast, or even in California, for that matter.
The winery is nestled on 200 acres in the Sta. Rita Hills, of which 38 acres are planted to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Gamay. These wines all have one thing in common: intriguing aromatics. Winemaker "rockstar" Sashi Moorman of Sandhi, Domaine de la Cote, and Evening Land, coaxes out honest expressions of terroir from every single varietal. These are not your typical California over-oaked, extracted fruit bombs, leaning more to a French style and nuance more common in Burgundy.
The tasting experience here is first class. The tasting fee for the standard tasting is $20, and is by appointment only. When you arrive, you are greeted by a wine host that will walk you through a flight of Pence wines in detail. Pence's employees all have had proper training and are not just versed in Pence's wines, but wines in general and can speak to how the wines are made, where they are grown, and why they taste and smell the way they do. The tasting room is a charming old barn that was reclaimed from the original property and converted to host tastings daily. Even the glasses are proper Riedel old-world Pinot Noir glasses, which help the wines show their best.
For those who wish for a more elevated experience, Pence offers tastings in multiple locations on its beautiful property such as at the "Pond House" in the vineyards or even an exclusive library tasting. While you're out on the property, you may even catch a glimpse of peacocks that reside there or the family's friendly Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs.
All in all, a trip to Pence Vineyards & Winery has everything you'd hope for; delicious wines, educated staff, and a beautiful tasting room and grounds. Don't miss it next time you're wine tasting in Santa Barbara County.