And the Winery of the Week is…

What wine tasting is all about…

As I wrote after my June day trip to Santa Barbara County wineries, there always seems to be a little gem that just makes the day. This time, that special place was Bedford Winery, in tiny Los Alamos, 11 miles north of Los Olivos, California. The visit was prompted by a “Winery of the Week” email that was intriguing because of winemaker Stephan Bedford’s penchant for lesser known (but not to me) varietals such as Cabernet Franc, Carignane and Gewürtztraminer. Bedford also produces Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah, one of which is named after the “Comet Holmes”, whose outburst occurred during their 2007 Syrah harvest.

The wines were especially enjoyable for me because of their lower alcohol content, in the 13.6% range, like much of the Old World, and are therefore more food-friendly. The alcohol content of many California wines today is getting closer to 15% and even higher.  All of the wines were superb, with the 2000 Cabernet Franc and 2007 Comet Holmes Syrah standing out.

But the real treat of the visit, and what wine tasting is really all about, was just casually sitting and chatting with gifted winemaker Stephan Bedford, a delightful, well-travelled and interesting man. His quaint tasting room, complete with posters of mushrooms, garlic, fruit and root vegetables, is just the setting one would expect in a little viticultural California town.

He shared his winemaking philosophy of bringing out the best in a varietal, not manipulating or over-crafting it into something it was not meant to be. Like me, he is very fond of France’s Loire Valley…its beauty, history and wines. Stephan is also a history buff, and is hosting an evening with Jim Newton, author of “Eisenhower: the White House Years”, complete with a Presidential Dinner featuring recipes from Ike and Mamie Eisenhower, this coming weekend. I highly recommend a visit to the Bedford Winery tasting room, and plan to stay a while to chat and taste with Stephan. For more information, check out the website at, and on Facebook at BedfordWinery.

 “Our flavor defines us: exemplary, out-of-the-ordinary wines from Santa Barbara County”

Until next time…à votre santé!



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