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Santa Barbara County

Timbre Winery

Timbre Winery


Timbre is the “color” of musical sound.  It’s how two voices express their individuality, even when singing the same note. We source fruit from some of the best vineyards in Santa Barbara County and across the Central Coast, but we don’t own any of those vineyards, so what differentiates our wines from others sourced from the same vineyard sites? There are, of course, many factors from picking decisions, to fermentation, to oak, when to rack, and when to bottle. There are also intangible, indescribable elements.  Those choices and intangibles have a big impact on the expression of a vineyard source in a bottle of wine and, collectively, make up the TIMBRE, or voice, of our winemaking.  

It is early morning and, driving the 101 up California’s coast, I am reminded of what inspired me to start a winery (way back in 2005) as a sommelier in Los Angeles. I worked at an amazing culinary hotspot but my professional life lacked the fulfillment that comes with trying for, and hopefully realizing one’s dream. 

In an effort to supplement my passion for wine I started taking short trips to the Santa Barbara wine country. Those trips away from the lights and haze of LA were, literally, a breath of fresh air. There is nothing quite like seeing the morning light break the hills surrounding the Santa Ynez valley- the unbelievably vibrant colors in contrast to the concrete slab that is Los Angeles. The same can be said of an early morning drive on many parts of the 101. I like to leave before daybreak so I can watch the sun rise over the hills that border both sides of the road. The natural beauty of the Central Coast invigorates and re-inspires me every time I get in the car!

With my amazing family for support and my best friend and business partner Alex, every challenge in the winery is met with a commitment to the highest standards of quality. But starting a small winery is hard, and keeping it alive year after year is even harder. For me, the hardest part is being continually inspired. What is it that keeps me striving day after day? Part of that inspiration comes from early morning walks through the vineyard. That time when the dew still clings to the individual berries. The moment that you are in sync with the vines themselves. Inspiration lives in the instant that you know without doubt that the fruit has reached the apex of ripeness, still crisp with acidity, and it is time to harvest.

Inspiration makes an appearance when the fruit comes into the winery from the vineyard, heaped in ½ ton bins like treasure chests full of tiny jewels. As we fill fermenters, the smell of fresh juice bursting from the still cold berries. That first pump-over when you taste the liquid that will one day become an amazing bottle of wine. It makes an appearance when fermentation completes, that moment when you can taste the young wine and get a feel for its potential. You experience it many times as you taste the aging barrels, and then it lives in the finished bottles of wine. It is our hope that others can find inspiration in those bottles as well.


We encourage you to join the VAULT29 community!

Flying Goat

Flying Goat

”Disgorging of Goat Bubbles Sparkling Wine” by Owner/Winemaker Norman Yost

Flying Goat Cellars is a boutique winery located in the California Central Coast community of Lompoc. We are a pioneer in the production of Méthode Champenoise sparkling wine in Santa Barbara County, producing Goat Bubbles sparkling wine for 11 consecutive vintages. Under the Goat Bubbles brand we offer 5 unique styles of sparkling wine: Crémant, Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, Brut Cuvée and Rosé

Méthode Champenoise is an Old World technique for producing a bottle of fermented sparkling wine. Each bottle of sparkling wine undergoes fermentation to produce carbon dioxide or CO2. The second fermentation in the bottle is created by putting the blended wine in bottles with yeast and small quantity of sugar and then stopped with a crown cap. Then the bottle is laid to rest in the cellar horizontally for the second fermentation to complete in 3-6 weeks.

Typically, the aging period for Goat Bubbles sparkling wine is between 9 months to 16 months; the aging varies for each of type of sparkling wine. The bottles are then transferred to riddling racks to force all the sediment to move towards the neck of the bottle. The bottles need to be turned once a day by hand for 1-2 weeks, which facilitates movement of the yeast that is trapped on the sides of the bottle.

Chilling the bottles prior to disgorging

Chilling the bottles prior to disgorging

Once the bottles are ready for disgorging, they are very carefully transferred to an ice bath to freeze the neck.  After about 10-15 minutes the bottles are removed with the neck facing down. One hand tilts the bottle to 45 degrees while the other hand removes the crown cap. The tool for removing the crown cap is hooked shaped, thus allowing the operator to flip off the cap. This Old World process for removing the “lees” is called “disgorging”. The pressure inside each is bottle is 75-90 psi so once the cap comes off the product will come shooting out with considerable force, hence the need for goggles and overalls. (pictured below)



The next stage of the process is the introduction of the “dosage,” which is typically a sugar solution along with a small quantity of sulfur dioxide as a preservative. The amount of dosage added to the bottle depends on the level of sweetness desired in the wine. Bottles are then corked by hand and a wire hood is applied to secure the cork. 

The next and final stage is the waxing of each bottle prior to going into a box. 

Discover Flying Goat wine experiences in the VAULT29 app and add your own! Use hashtags #FlyingGoat or #FlyingGoatCellars. CHEERS!

Brief #Harvest15 Update from #Sonoma & #SantaBarbara County #Wineries

Brief #Harvest15 Update from #Sonoma & #SantaBarbara County #Wineries

Harvest 2015 update!  To fully appreciate the art of winemaking, VAULT29 is taking you behind the scenes during the busiest - and most exciting - time of year in wine country. Two boutique California wineries, Stomping Girl in Sonoma County and Pali Wine Co. in Santa Barbara County, have called the 2015 harvest season "a wrap." Let's take a quick look...


Husband and wife duo, Uzi and Kathryn Cohen, craft superb boutique pinot noir and chardonnay from top vineyard sites like Hyde in Carneros. Harvest 2015 was a wrap in late August where the grapes from Hyde Vineyard were picked and pressed marking this harvest the earliest to date. Learn more about this dynamic duo and Stomping Girl Wines.


With the weather being so warm it’s another early harvest season for Pali Wine Co. They began getting grapes in mid-August! One of their highlights is that they picked their first ever harvest from their Pali Sta. Rita Hills vineyard. The staff went out before sunrise for the first pick and harvested about one ton of Pinot Noir grapes for Rosé. Learn more about this boutique winery from Santa Barbara County.

Dynamic Duos

Dynamic Duos

Wine Mic Monday: Dynamic Duos

In Season 2's Recap #1, we take a look back at husband and wife duos. All four couples followed their passions and let curiosity guide them, which ultimately lead to chasing wine dreams. From fateful trips in Europe, to specific winemaking techniques and beliefs, these four stories highlight wine and it's ability to influence lives, inspire, and create incredible pieces of art with each vintage.

Amplify: what we love about this piece is how Cameron so carefully and perfectly articulates what wine is to him. To Cam, wine is so much more than the traditional rules and the places in which the grapes grow. To take ones undying passion, translate into a profoundly personal expression of art, and inspire conversation is what makes wine the most meaningful. Read more here.


Waits-Mast: We love this story because wine has the power to really capture curiosity. For some, we casually drink with family and friends and create a lifetime of memories with wine as the backdrop. For others, like Jennifer and Brian, it's all about the details. Read more here.


Caliza: The theme in this story is a true, unwavering commitment to winemaking. Carl and Pam see this firsthand with their fateful trip to Italy after 9/11, and dedicate years of education and preparing the land until the timing was right and the wines were exactly aligned with "sense of place." Read more here.


Kukkula: Paula says her husband Kevin doesn't know the meaning of a small hobby - and their wine journey is proof! From Beaucastel, France to the rolling hills in Paso Robles, Kevin shares their winemaking adventure! Read more here.

Lucky Dogg

Lucky Dogg

Wine Tasting Rules 101: When it's serious and when it's social? by Mead Whippo

You may find yourself new to wine like a sponge absorbing all the knowledge you can about this wonderful juice, you may be the connoisseur with a collection that even a winery owner like me would envy, or you may just be the social butterfly that likes to have fun.  All three of you are reading this article and all three have different reasons to (the connoisseur is already scoffing at me and anxiously waiting for the “HA! You’re wrong!” point where they dismiss all I have to say).  Let me be the first to tell you, ALL of you: there are no rules. Let me say that again in case you missed it the first time: THERE ARE NO RULES. “Whaaaaaaaat???” you say? But what about…….relax, I’m getting there.

First let me back up a step as technically there is just one rule but it’s a really, really easy one: drink what you like. Yep, that’s it. I don’t even care if it’s my wine. We won 5 medals including 2 gold and 1 best in class at 97 points in our FIRST year of production, and I will be the first one to tell you: if you don’t like my wine, don’t drink it. As much as I would love to drop all kinds of knowledge and industry expertise on every person that walks through those tasting rooms doors in such a way that every single one of them walks out with 3 cases under their arms, I’m not going to for this simple reason: if you don’t love the juice in that glass, I don’t want you to buy it (unless it’s for someone else, then I will sell you as much as you can carry). Wine is such a multitude of experiences that it makes no sense to pursue any given bottle unless it turns you on. At Lucky Dogg, Brent (Melville) and I do this for the love of every part of this journey, from the first bud break to the party we have in the tasting room every day. Every single bottle of wine has a story behind it: there is a vineyard the fruit came from, different weather patterns that touched the vines during the growing cycle, the fun (or exhausting) nights when it was harvested, the processes the winemaker used in making it, crush, soak, punch downs, press, barrel aging, etc.  Before that grape has even found its way into the bottle it has so many stories behind it….and that’s just the first chapter.

Every time you open a bottle of wine you are writing another chapter in the story of that bottle’s life cycle.  This is what is so much fun about wine!  I can tell you story after story about what we did and what happened with every bottle we make, but the real stories, the memories, the experiences happen when you take over.  Whether you sampled it straight from the barrel, opened the bottle today, or saved it for 10 years from now, you will get something different from that same juice because it is constantly growing, changing, improving or declining.  Wine can be an educational tasting experience, the subject of a judging panel, a fantastic food pairing partner or just a fun social thing you do with your friends and family.  Wine is meant to be enjoyed.  Hold the glass by the stem, hold it by the bowl, smell it, sip it, spit it out or gulp it; whatever you do, just make sure you are having fun!

(L) Brent Melville, Owner/Winemaker/President (R) Mead Whippo, Owner/Vice President

(L) Brent Melville, Owner/Winemaker/President (R) Mead Whippo, Owner/Vice President

Now before you go eagerly running to your local tasting room I should point out that not everyone will agree with me.  Some people take all this very seriously (too seriously) and are maybe a bit annoyed at this article.  You may walk into a winery somewhere with this newfound excitement coupled with little to no knowledge and suddenly feel very uncomfortable when the tasting room associate rolls their eyes a bit listening to you mis-pronounce varietals.  If this happens, don’t sweat it, just go somewhere else.  At Lucky Dogg we make great wine because we love it and we want to share that love with anyone who is willing to join us for the journey.  Our tasting room is a swingin’ good time every single day and we welcome everyone from the novice to the connoisseur with open arms…and we’re not the only ones.  There are lots of wineries just like us and we’re all going to tell you the same thing: if you want to learn, just ask us.  I absolutely love sharing what I know with someone new to the experience, and at the same time I love learning something new from somebody who has more experience than I.  I’m not pretentious and you shouldn’t feel like you need to be either.  If we’re not enjoying ourselves, why the hell are we here?

So that’s it my lovelies, I just made wine tasting 1,000 times easier for you.  Drink what you like and don’t let anyone make you feel bad about it.  There are so many wineries, so many appellations and so much to learn that you will never run out of things to do.  So plan a weekend, grab your friends, jump in the car and go. We can’t wait to see you.

Mead Whippo is the General Manager/Co-owner of Lucky Dogg Winery as well as an entrepreneur, musician, husband and father.

We'd love to see your Lucky Dogg wine experiences in the VAULT29 app! Use hashtag #LuckyDogg.

 Wine Buzzin'

Wine Buzzin'

 "A Day in the Central Coast"

Wine Buzzin' | VAULT29 blog

If you have been following our Wine Mic Monday series, we've had the pleasure of sharing stories from some of the best wineries in this area. After a quick drive from the Bay Area down the picturesque 101, we were able to check out these great wine experiences we've read about for so long!

On our itinerary -

1.  Presqu'ile Winery: Located in Santa Maria Valley (Santa Barbara County), this state of the art winery is not to be missed. As you make your way from the dramatic entryway up through the vineyard hillsides, you'll find a modern tasting room with all the amenities including a Tesla charging station. Inside the tasting room, floor to ceiling windows open up to breathtaking views of the Murmur Vineyards and Pacific Ocean to the West, and renowned Bien Nacido Vineyards to the East. 


2.  Laetitia Vineyards & Winery: Head 20 minutes north on the 101, and you'll find Laetitia. This is a must stop for anyone who loves quality wines for unbelievably affordable prices. Naya loved the bubbles; I loved the Pinot Noirs. There is something for everyone here: expansive wine list, picnic tables, bocce court, a trail through the vineyards and even music on the weekends.


ONX Estates Tractor Shed | VAULT29
ONX Wines tasting Line Up | VAULT29

3.  ONX Estate: ONX is located about 45 miles north in the Templeton Gap region of Paso Robles. After reading about the various oases on the property in their Wine Mic Monday piece, Naya and I couldn't wait to experience the winery firsthand. We were greeted by Annie who invited us into their tractor shed turned tasting room, and we later moved to their tasting deck under the large oak trees. Rather than a seated tasting, you can book to take a vineyard tour in a spruced up golf cart.


4.  Caliza Winery: After featuring Caliza's Wine Mic Monday story on Monday, 6/8, we had to stop at Caliza Winery and meet Carl and Pam. If you're looking for one centralized place to taste great wines, we highly recommend this area of town in Paso. Tucked at the end of Anderson Road is the cute tasting room surrounded by vineyards. If you're lucky, Nicky the dog will greet you! 

Search the VAULT29 app to view additional wine experiences happening at these locations. We encourage you to get out and explore the Central Coast, too! 

Wine, Music, and the Element of Surprise

Wine, Music, and the Element of Surprise

Cameron Porter , Advanced Sommelier Winemaker, Amplify Wines

Cameron Porter, Advanced Sommelier Winemaker, Amplify Wines

Nothing excites me more than a new idea.  The rush of a fresh experience, and the new memory it creates, is something I value above any material possession.  As we get older, more experienced with a subject, and grow inevitably more jaded, it can be harder to find these experiences, particularly when it comes to our passions.  When it comes to my life’s great passions, wine and music, I readily admit to feeling this “everything’s been done before” cynicism.  So even though it doesn’t happen with the frequency it did when I was a novice, when a bottle of wine or an album surprises me, I am moved to a much greater depth. 

The most recent occurrence of this pleasant surprise was a pairing in which both elements married the cutting edge and the traditional: Jamie xx’s “Gosh” and Fred Brander’s 2014 Kick-On Ranch Riesling.  In both cases, there is a link to the familiar acting as an anchor:  “Gosh” begins with links to UK Garage and grime, short repetitive loops clicking into place; Brander’s Riesling has aromatic signifiers that, at first whiff, recall top sites in Germany’s Mosel.  This element of familiarity beckons you in, grounding the wave of euphoric surprise soon to wash across your body and send you spinning from the earth.

Jamie xx "Gosh" - 

In the case of Jamie xx, it is a squelching, neon-orange synthesizer that comes out of nowhere almost 3 minutes into the 5-minute song, dancing across the brooding track.  In a flash, the grime of “Gosh” is saturated with this unbearably joyous, warbling moment, suffusing the digital with an unexpected level of humanity and excitement.  I’ve listened to “Gosh” probably 50 times in the past week, and that moment never loses its element of surprise; goosebumps are guaranteed every time.

With Brander’s Riesling from Los Alamos’ Kick On Ranch Vineyard, the surprise comes when it hits the palate.  Those familiar Mosel-inspired aromatics give way to singularly Kick-On, and singularly Brander, flavors that explode in the mouth.  Images of cherries or juniper share equal mental space with watching fireworks burst for the first time as a kid, or the popsicle-asphalt-watermelon scent of summer BBQs in the local park.  Intensely sweet and rich, yet also bracingly acidic, it manages the delicate balancing act that only the world’s greatest Rieslings can.  For this to be coming out of the western reaches of Santa Barbara County is a surprise, nay shock, that moves me in a profound way. 

My wife recently gave birth to our first child; as new experiences go, there is nothing on this earth that comes close to the euphoric moment of bringing new life into the world.  The level of love I feel for this delicate little being is unlike anything I’ve experienced, and every day my jadedness melts away a little more.  Perhaps it’s because, seeing the world through his new eyes, the element of surprise has returned to everything: the first whiff of his grandmother’s mole negro slowly cooking on the stove; hearing the opening notes of Kind of Blue as we rock him to sleep.  Wine is having its own return to this childlike sense of wonder and surprise, as winemakers experiment with a new varietal palette, new techniques in the vineyard and winery, and a new mental approach to what wine can be.  It is these wines that excite me, and I will be sharing and exploring them with you through VAULT29 in the coming months.  Stay curious…