Updated: Mar 16, 2021
The Santa Ynez Valley: a beautiful wine region close enough to Los Angeles that I can actually make the trek up several times a year to pick up wine club shipments! I've visited regularly enough now that I am familiar with just about all of the wineries in the area, so when I new one pops up, I feel the need to drop by and check it out.
With a name like "Brick Barn Wine Estate" I honestly didn't know what to expect. Would this end up being a rustic tasting room or would it lean more towards a fancy wine "estate"? Upon arrival, you are greeted by a rustic-looking brick barn that was originally a world-class Arabian horse farm, but upon entry, prepare to be blown away by a chic tasting room replete with contemporary chandeliers, under-lit concrete countertops and patterned concrete tiles.
Upon entry, we were greeted by John, a knowledgeable, friendly individual who guided us through our tasting. There are two tasting options; a white-only option and a reds + whites option. My girlfriend and I shared the two tastings to get an idea of the entire gamut of Brick Barn's wines. I was really impressed that the focus here was not on Chardonnay, as it is in most wineries west of the 101. Instead, we started off with an aromatic Albarino and followed that up with a Vermentino with nice balance and a hint of salinity. Also on the docket were Viognier, which is a little more common in the area and a Grenache Blanc which is gaining in popularity. Yes, there were both a Pinot Noir and a Chardonnay that were good, but I felt like the whites were the stars here. After the tasting, we took a quick tour around the facility. One room, now used for corporate events used to house several exotic cars, but they proved too difficult to shuffle in and out between events. Life can be rough sometimes!
The winemaker for Brick Barn is Rob DaFoe, a former professional snowboarder, and Santa Barbara native. His travels abroad led him to wine and he eventually created a documentary on winemaking called "From Ground to Glass." From there he joined investment banker, Jeff Tanner, to create Tanner DaFoe, a wine brand focused on Cabernet Sauvignon that has won much critical acclaim. Clearly, Rob is living a life that belongs in a storybook. Next time you're in the area, stop by and say hi.