Thursday, April 2, 2009

Buttonwood Farm

In the Wine Business, one of the characteristics that separates the everyday portfolio to that of distinction, can be the ability to see see the potential of greatness. I have known Buttonwood wines for about as long as I've been in the business. I bought them and enjoyed them, but always viewed them as a good value, but unremarkable.
Sometimes the thin line that lies between vision and potential is never crossed. Understanding the potential and matching it to a vision is a very difficult thing to do. We see a square peg in a round hole quite a bit. Once upon a time, every varietal was planted throughout Santa Barbara. Now that has been refined as visionary wineries refined their scope and found what worked. Because of the microclimate on the Eastern edge of Santa Ynez Valley, Bordeaux Varietals planted here have gotten pretty good.
Buttonwood planted about a third of their 100+ acres to vineyards, largely Bordeaux Varietals. The winery is almost 30 years old, what's changed? As is so often the case, the Winemaker. Karen Steinwachs has some really good experience working at 2 of my favorite wineries, Foley and Fiddlehead. 2 years ago, she came to Buttonwood and truly helped to improve what they were doing. They already had pretty good fruit sources, but how could this translate into wines of character? Karen surely must have looked to Bordeaux for inspiration, but probably not Pomerol or Medoc, but Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux, or the satellites. As I've tasted through Karen's wines, her Sauvignon Blanc could easily pass for good Bordeaux Blanc. She's not afraid to use some Semillon, and they exhibit a richness and minerality you don't often see in California, along with a nice musty, earthiness. So far, the reds are showing great earth and restraint. These are wines that have their own distinct character and are a tremendous value. I'm excited to see where these wines go from here!

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