After the 2014 Wine Blogger’s Conference in Santa Barbara Wine Country in July, I had the pleasure of accepting an invite from Bryan Babcock, winemaker extraordinaire of Babcock Winery, to tour the vineyards. Bryan spoke at the closing dinner of the conference about his revolutionary Pedestral Cane Positioning. Curiosity got the better me, so I decided to check it out for myself.
When you meet Bryan, there’s a “McGiver” type glint in his eye. Bryan has been farming grapes in the Sta Rita Hills AVA for over three decades with great success. It is no surprise that he is now pioneering a new farming technique, which he refers to as Pedestral Cane Positioning or Canopy Pivoting. This innovative technique works with gravity and allows the canopy of leaves to spill toward the ground as it grows, keeping the clusters above the leaves.
In addition, a shade cloth-type canopy shields the grapes from the sun when needed. This type of trellising system, combined with the wind and gravity has led to substantial labor-saving costs.
Babcock Winery is tucked off Highway 246 in Lompoc, in the heart of the Sta Rita Hills AVA. Over 65 acres are dedicated to Pinot Noir grapes, his flagship award-winning wine. In addition, Babcock Winery also produces stellar Chardonnay. For starters, the 2012 Top Cream Chardonnay is really lovely and opens with a toasty meringue pear nose with a dash of minerality.
Pinot lovers are in for a spectacular tasting of the estate’s finest wines. A personal favorite of mine is the 2012 Microcosm Pinot Noir from Rancho La Vina in Sta Rita Hills, a spellbinding single block Pinot Noir, deep ruby-red, youthful with bright cherry undertones. Yet, the 2012 Slice of Heaven Pinot Noir, Rita’s Crown Vineyard, rated 91 points by WIne Enthusiast, is especially daunting ~ a proprietary blend of the 667 and 777 Pinot Noir Clones. Hands down, Babcock Winery’s Pinot Noirs are some of the best in California and are sure to please the most discerning Pinot lovers. www.babcockwinery.com