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Oz and James’ Santa Barbara Wine Adventure, 2

Oz and James Meet Jim Clendenen

This is the second installment of Oz Clarke and James May’s Santa Barbara wine tours. In part two, Oz explains to James the importance of the Pacific Ocean’s cooling influence on the Santa Barbara wine country, and the two of them give surfing a go, with predictable results. Then they head up into the Wine Country and visit the Santa Ynez Valley, Sta. Rita Hills and Santa Maria Valley because Oz wants James to meet some “Santa Barbara wine making stars,” one of which is Jim Clendenen, of Au Bon Climat fame.

Jim Clendenen, one of the most respected Santa Barbara wine makers, opines upon the state of wine making today:

I do believe there is more great wine made now than ever in the history of the world, which I think is special. I also think there’s more standardized wine passed off as great wine, than ever in the history of the world too.

James is quite taken with this Santa Barbara wine maker due to their shared scruffiness and philosophy that wine is meant to be drunk and enjoyed–and he likes Au Bon Climat’s wine as well. James take on the situation is as follows:

You can probably make a fair assessment of the wine by meeting the maker. You go meet him; he’s a bit fat and his hair’s untidy, and he’s pissed: buy it.

Santa Barbara Wine Maker Jim ClenendennThey also meet two of the Santa Barbara wine makers at Lompoc’s (a small town in the Santa Barbara Wine Country) “Wine Ghetto,” a collective where Santa Barbara wine makers with ambition but not wads of cash produce interesting wines in an industrial setting. One of the wine makers claims that the Wine Ghetto is a kind of ambassador for Santa Barbara wine. He says that people who visit the unusual winery become enamored of not only Santa Barbara wine, but also the spirit of the place where it’s produced. Oz Clarke says that some of the strange names of the Santa Barbara wine that’s produced in the Wine Ghetto are ones to look out for in the future.

At the end of the video, James is put to the test of distinguishing two types of Santa Barbara wine: a cool climate Pinot Noir, and a warm climate Pinot Noir. Watch the video to see if it gets it right with these two actually quite different types of Santa Barbara wine.

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