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Santa Barbara



Meet Cameron and his wife. Together, they make up Amplify, where their goal is to capture not only a sense of site, but a sense of self. A sip of Santa Maria pinot noir sparked Cameron's curiousity about wine. He started as a cellar rat at Tantara where he learned the art of blending. At Dierberg, he expanded his farming knowledge and the natural approach of winemaking. In his first attempts, Cameron passed the Court of Master Sommeliers first three levels in just NINE months, and holds the title Advanced Sommelier. He is currently studying for his Master exam while he crafts exceptional small production wine. This duo has never been fans of cliques or been interested in being part of the cool kids club (but we think they are awesome!)  They are content to work in their little world, chipping away at a long-held dream. Amplify proves dreams do come true...

Wine: A Timeliss Beverage by Cameron Porter

Amplify Wines | VAULT29

Wine can be so much more than a beverage if it's allowed to be.  It can capture that which is timeless- the essence of a place and the traditions of a people.  And it can also evoke those things that are transient- the weather of a given year, the philosophical approach of a farmer, even the mood of the winemaker throughout the aging process.  This intersection of the fleeting and the forever is where the art of wine lies, so when we started Amplify, our goal was to capture not only a sense of site, but a sense of self.     

It's easy to espouse this philosophy, but the work of achieving it is something else altogether.  Every grape variety we work with, and every site we work with, guides our hand in very different ways.  Sometimes this means nurturing some delicate element; other times it means destroying a grape's primary nature so that it may express the core of its origins.  Take our Viognier.  Viognier, by its nature, wants to throw out all of its effusive, peachy, generous, oily goodness to seduce you. While this take on Viognier is pleasant, it doesn't have much to say about where it's from or who made it.  We believe Viognier must be punished, thrown in the gutter before it can really look at the stars.  Every time we bring it into the winery I can hear Dylan's voice on “Like a Rolling Stone” cackling “How does it feel...” to the socialite now on her own, cast out of the comfort of her high society trappings.  Once our Viognier makes it through its plight- foot crushing, no sulfur, skin contact, hot ferments- it comes out the other side better for its hardship, tasting of the soil it was raised in and the hands that crafted it.

This goes against most of the “rules” of how Viognier is supposed to be treated.  But the world of wine has a lot of rules.  Europe has its appellation system, where one is told what one can grow, how it can be grown, and how it must taste.  Viticultural professors have their textbooks on how vines should be trellised and the scientific markers for what ripe fruit is.  Sommeliers tell us the classic rules of pairing, and what foods we should be eating with particular wines.  There is greatness to be found in these rules, certainly; they are the foundation of tradition, and have helped to establish much of what made us fall in love with wine in the first place.  But we are in California.  Our creative freedom is boundless; knowing these rules allows us to break them, and break through, to find our own voice. 

Thus, our approach, while rooted in a strong overarching philosophy, is not dogmatic.  We've never been fans of cliques or been interested in being part of the cool kids club.  Rather, we're content to work in our own little world, chipping away at a long-held dream.  The art of winemaking- and it is an art- is a long, slow journey.  It's not like music or painting, where an abstract idea can be channeled into something concrete immediately, a masterpiece rendered in the moment.  The wonder, and the frustration, in wine comes from the patience it requires.  And in a lifetime, if you are extremely lucky and start early enough, you still might only get 50 or 60 chances to really ace it.  Perhaps because of this, our joy comes not from trying to achieve perfection (and here's a secret- despite 100 point scores being doled out, it ain't attainable).  Instead, we find it in the surprises our wines consistently deliver, the new stories they have to tell each year, the questions they raise more than the answers they provide.

Our ultimate hope is that these bottles inspire conversation around a table among friends, family, and lovers- about the wines themselves, certainly, what winemaker wouldn't dream of their art being treated with such respect- but more importantly about their day, their dreams, their struggle.  There should be laughter, and flirtation, and excitement, maybe even a little tension.  We're born alone, we die alone, and it's those little moments of connection in between that make it all worthwhile; for a bottle of Amplify to be the catalyst for that experience?  That is what makes all the effort meaningful.  

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Central Coast

Central Coast

"Wine Mic Monday" is a VAULT29 series based on an "open mic concept" where wineries take over our blog...because every glass and bottle of wine has a story. The last two weeks we've recapped "Napa Valley Wineries" in Season 1, partand "Sonoma Winery Techniques" in Season 1, part 2.. This week we take a look back at wineries from California's Central Coast. Discover Pali Wine Co. tasting rooms in Lompoc & Santa Barbara's Funk Zone;  the unique tasting experience found at ONX in W. Paso Robles Templeton Gap; how four couples turned a passion for winemaking into a business at Phantom Rivers in Arroyo Grande; and the sweeping coastal views overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Laetitia.  

When Visiting Santa Barbara

Tim Perr and Scott Knight founded Pali, named "Pali" after the coastal Los Angeles County city and their hometown, Pacific Palisades. Their main goal is to deliver small lots of quality artisinal wines to consumers while maintaining affordable price points. Their 2012 Huntington Pinot Noir (Santa Barbara County) made a big splash when it was named one of Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of 2014 list. The price point: a mere $22.50/bottle! While this wine is already sold out, there are other great wines available, like the 2012 pinot noir from Sta. Rita Hills. Pop in and taste their line up at one of three locations: The state-of-the-art tasting room in Santa Barbara's "Funk Zone" just blocks from the beac;, the Lompoc tasting room amidst the barrels; or at the winery (by appointment only). You're bound to enjoy these quality wines at an incredible value! Read more here.


Gorgeous Grounds, Sweeping Views

Take a scenic drive, about an hour north of Santa Barbara's Funk Zone and Pali Wine Co,. and you reach Laetitia Vineyards & Winery. Owned and operated by a father/daughter duo who purchased the property in the 1990's, they decided to keep the name given it had meaning to the previous owner. The grounds are gorgeous and the landscape is picturesque: gentle rolling hills with larger unobstructed vineyards. They specialize in Methode Champenoise sparkling wines, pinot noir, and chardonnay which you can find in retail outlets.  They also make 8 different pinot noirs strictly for the tasting room. With a deep commitment to sustain the land for future generations, they create quality wines by harvesting during the night and carry the distringuished certification of Sustainable-in-Practice (SIP) certification. Read more about the history of Laetitia, their second label NADIA, and the unique parrellels between the two brands.


Home Winemakers to Business Partners

Five minutes from Laetitia, in the Village of Arroyo Grande, is the quaint tasting room of Phantom Rivers. The name, Phantom Rivers, derives from the streams of misty fog that roll in during the evenings in many of their vineyard sites; hugging the paths of the ancients rivers, now valleys, that once flowed to the sea. You may recognize this brand as it has received many awards, including Best in Class, from the San Francisco Chronicle's Wine Competition. It all started when four home winemaking couples became friends. The common passion among the eight are making good wines which pair well with food. While all have a winemaking passion, John Thunen holds the winemaker title (also winemaker for Double Bond). The focus is to source fruit grown on the Central Coast of California, from as far north as Paso Robles; far south as Santa Ynez; and the north east corner of Santa Barbara County. Read more about how they turned their passion into a thriving winery!


Vineyard Tours at its Finest

Making your way north (30 miles) and into the Templeton Gap district of Western Paso Robles, you will find ONX Estate, bordering the Santa Rita Creek. Their focus is to produce wines that portray individually distinct personalities, yet possess consistent commonalities recognizable as a family of cuvees. The six blends produced are a true expression of the ONX Estate. Learn how to take those six blends and pair them with an unforgetable vineyard tour! Rather than a conventional tasting room, they developed an old tractor shed in the vineyard into a hospitality and education center where they greet their guests before touring the vineyards. You'll definitely want to read more about sinking your boots into authentic wine country soil and the all the fun experiences that come with immersing all five senses during an estate visit! 

Pali Wine Co

Pali Wine Co

"Wine Mic Monday" is a VAULT29 series based on an "open mic concept" where wineries take over our blog to write about aspects unique to them and their wines. This week, we are proud to feature Pali Wine Co, from Santa Barbara. Their 2012 Huntington Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara County was just featured in Wine Spectator's Top 100 wines in 2014.

Pali Wine Co and the “2012 Huntington Pinot Noir”

Pali Wine Company has been crafting Pinot Noir and Chardonnay using grapes from top appellations in California and Oregon since 2005. Pali gets its namesake after owners Tim Perr and Scott Knight’s hometown of Pacific Palisades. What began as just a small production winery has developed over the years into a company that produces almost 40,000 cases of wine annually. With the skills of winemaker Aaron Walker, we produce a cuvee series of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay defined by their appellation of origin but named after different neighborhoods in the Pacific Palisades. We also craft a line of Vineyard Designate wines made in very small production. In 2010, Pali launched a sister label, Tower 15 Winery, which showcases varietals from the Paso Robles region


Recently, our 2012 Huntington Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara Country was featured on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2014 list. Though many of our wines have received scores of 90 and above, this is the first time in our almost 10 years as a winery that our wine has made this coveted Top 100 list. This wine is described by Wine Spectator’s James Laube (who also gave it a score of 90 points) as “Notably floral and spicy, with firm tannins amid the dark berry, mocha, roasted herb and fresh-turned earth flavors. This is complex, dense and persistent, gaining depth and length. Drink now through 2022.”


The beauty of this wine is that it retails for just $22.50 a bottle. We at Pali pride ourselves on being able to offer consumers wine at great prices without compromising the quality. Pinot Noirs typically pair well with a variety of dishes such as salmon or other fatty fish, roasted chicken, and even pasta dishes. A Pinot with noticeable, firm tannins such as our Huntington can hold its own up to duck or other game birds and even a hearty beef stew.

To learn more about Pali Wine Co. and our wines please visit our website and, stop by our tasting rooms in downtown Santa Barbara and Lompoc. 

Be sure to add your Pali Wone Co. experiences in the VAULT29 app