Staff Report

Family-owned and operated Babcock Winery & Vineyards, located in the Sta. Rita Hills American Viticultural Area (AVA) of Santa Barbara County, has announced that owner and pioneering winemaker Bryan Babcock has been named 2021 Vintner of the Year by the Sta. Rita Hills Wine Alliance, coinciding with the AVA’s 20th anniversary.

Babcock was honored by the Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance during their 20-year anniversary celebration August 12-15. Amidst esteemed colleagues and wine enthusiasts, Babcock was presented with the 2021 Vintner of the Year award, which took place during the weekend’s La Paulee style dinner at Alma Rosa Vineyards.

A celebrated winemaker and farmer, Babcock has dedicated nearly 40 years to living and working in the Sta. Rita Hills, where he and his family established their winery and vineyard in the early 1980s. Fueled by passion, craftsmanship and innovation, Babcock has dedicated his career to learning, exploring and experiencing new farming practices, winemaking techniques and grape varieties in order to produce the most compelling, terroir-driven wines from the region as possible.

Recognizing the Sta. Rita Hills’ unique topography and climate patterns, Babcock was instrumental in the formation of the appellation’s boundaries and led the efforts to distinguish the region as its own AVA in 2001. Always pushing to perfect his craft, Babcock is also known for developing revolutionary viticulture techniques, such as a gravity assisted vine canopy system that seamlessly integrates the nature of the vine with the forces of nature to maximize wine quality within a system that flows more naturally.

Most recognized for his acclaimed Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines, Babcock also produces exceptional examples of Rhône and Bordeaux-style varietals, as well as a range of unique varietal wines and blends from such under-the-radar grapes as Clairette Blanche, Picpoul and Mencia. In addition to producing wines under his prominent Babcock Winery & Vineyard label, Babcock explores creative winemaking opportunities through the smaller production Eye of the Beholder, Rita’s Earth, Bright Fortune, FATHOM and GrapeHunters labels.

“Great wine starts with the fruit, which in actuality starts with the soil, the climate and the farming techniques,” says Babcock. “I truly believe the Sta. Rita Hills is one of the greatest places to grow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the world, and the wines from this region cannot be replicated anywhere else. It has been an honor and privilege to dedicate my career to producing wines from this region, translating the soul and beauty of this unique place into each bottle, and I look forward to continuing my wine journey in this exciting region for many more years to come.”