Fiddlehead Cellars, Wine Ghetto, Lompoc, CA
Our weeklong wine tasting trip was called the Sideways Wine Tour. Imagine how excited we were to find Fiddlehead Cellars in the Wine Ghetto. Do you recognize this brand from the movie Sideways? It’s from the scene during Miles and Maya’s double date with Jack and Stephanie. Maya has a glass of Fiddlehead Cellars Sauvignon Blanc that Miles tastes and likes. Maya says, “We should get you a glass of your own”. Obscure reference, maybe? but I’ve seen it a million times so I recognized it in the list of tasting rooms at the Ghetto.
After seeing the Sauvignon Blanc in the movie, I was a bit surprised that there were so many Pinot Noir to choose from in the tasting room. I should have known since we are in Pinot Noir country. Fiddlehead Cellars is a very small operation, only 3 people, winemaker, assistant winemaker and Sadie, who did our tasting. Despite their size, their winemaker, Cathy, has been making wine for 30 years. Since we are new to this region, we were happy to see the wine map showing the Santa Ynez Valley and learning how the cool air in the Santa Rita Hills AVA comes from the West and South to help the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grow.
Their tasting menu changes weekly so it might be different if you visit. Our wine tasting was set up little out of the ordinary with red wines first and then white and bubbles.
2017 “Pink Fiddle” Rosé of Pinot Noir, Fiddlesticks Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills
“Missing 7” Pinot Noir, Fiddlesticks Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills
2011 “728” Pinot Noir, Fiddlesticks Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills
2011 “Hunnysuckle” Sauvignon Blanc, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara
2013 “Bubbles” Blanc de Noir, Fiddlesticks Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills
Lots of the wines come from Fiddlesticks Vineyard and when we visited, it was only a few days away from harvest. Our tasting began with a rosé of Pinot Noir that was aged in stainless steel. There were soft, fruity, floral, sweet and cotton candy aromas in this wine. The flavors were candied, tangy, sweet, smoky, floral, and tart. Neil thought it was interesting but sweeter than he’d like for a rosé.
We tried two Pinot Noirs next. Sadie told us the wines that Fiddlehead makes is driven by the LA crowd. It was also interesting to hear that these wines have no additives or protein fining agents therefore their wines can be considered vegan. The first wine is called Missing 7 as a play on the next wine titled 728. So what’s the significance of all these 7’s, well, the Fiddlesticks Vineyard can be found at mile marker 7.28 on Santa Rosa Road. As we swirled the Missing 7 wine, we picked up all kinds of aromas including light berry, fennel, floral notes, spice, cherry and blackberry. Neil called this a very, very interesting wine that was soft and then slid into something great! He identified vanilla and good fruit while I thought it was dry with berry and spice. The 728 wine was different than the previous wine with it’s berry, stone, smokey meat, pepper, and cherry cola aromas. I thought that wine felt thicker with spice, cherry and dry flavors. Neil picked up stone, fruit and spice flavors and described it as round, balanced, tasty and fun. Then in the finish, he got something delicious.
During our tasting, Sadie, told us a little about the Santa Ynez Valley. There were a few winery recommendations that came up including Stoltman Winery because they use carbonic and concrete fermentation. She said it’s fun to go see something a little different. She also mentioned that the town of Los Olivos has tons of wine. That’s another great suggestion for us to add to the list for our next visit. One of the things that surprised us was the shift in agriculture to Cannabis. She said since it’s being grown in the area, it’s actually taking the migrant workforce away from the vineyards. Who knew that would be a side effect of Cannabis being legalized?
We only had two wines left to try, a Sauvignon Blanc and some bubbles. As we swirled the Sauvignon Blanc, Sadie told us that the grapes are exposed to a lot of sunlight out in Santa Barbara. The aromas were very different from what we’d expect for this grape. We noticed oak, honeysuckle, watermelon rind, a hint of sweetness and flowers. Then when I took a sip, I noticed it to be smooth, caramel, and creme brûlée. Neil described it as honeysuckle, white flowers and light honey. If we had to guess, I think we both would have said Chardonnay before Sauvignon Blanc. Guess that’s why it was a good wine to feature in the movie, something a little different. The sparkling wine smelled like oak and burnt caramel to me but Neil thought it was honeydew and cantaloupe melon. The flavor was light, clean, mineral and citrus.
At the end of the tasting, I was looking through the window in to the production area. Since the tasting room was about to close, Sadie said we could go peek in the back. It took me back to my days of working in a small winery. She showed us the equipment and described her role in the winemaking process. Always fun to be part of a small team! They were about to start production once those Fiddlesticks grapes came in. Sadie’s favorite part is the crusher, she said it’s like her fort. What a fun way to wrap up our day of wine tasting.
We didn’t purchase any wine here because we knew we had so many more places to taste in the upcoming days. It was a great first day in our weeklong Sideways Wine Tour. Wish we had more time to explore the Wine Ghetto, it’s so convenient with all those tasting rooms in one place! Keep checking back to see where else we visited.
*Movie Photo found on http://mysterymanonfilm.blogspot.com/2006/09/subtext-sideways.html