Staff Report

Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyards, a family-owned winery with a long history in Santa Barbara County, celebrated 45 years of winemaking on the Central Coast with an open house in March. The event included exclusive tastings of pre-release and library wines, live music by Sean Wiggins, and food from “BBQ in the Stix.”

Established in 1973, Zaca Mesa was purchased by John Cushman and five friends; today, the winery is still owned by the Cushman family.

“Zaca Mesa has been a notable presence in the Santa Ynez Valley, known for its dedication to Rhône grapes and for quality viticulture, and few places have the honor of having a presence for 45 years,” Cushman said.

From the beginning, Zaca Mesa’s mission has been to craft high-quality Rhône-style wines. As the first vineyard to plant Syrah in the area in 1978, in the vineyard’s Black Bear Block, Zaca Mesa helped pioneer the local Rhône movement through an unwavering dedication to these varietals.

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Zaca Mesa planted such Rhône varieties as roussanne, viognier, grenache, mourvèdre, cinsault and grenache blanc, and has become a trusted source for Rhône fruit among regional and national wine brands.

Its wines have earned many accolades over the years, including being the first Central Coast winery to make Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list in 1993. In 1996, the same wine was served at the Clinton White House during an official state dinner honoring French President Jacques Chirac, while Zaca Mesa was also served at Ronald Reagan’s 80th birthday celebration in 1991.

Zaca Mesa’s tasting room is on Foxen Canyon Road, surrounded by 150 acres of estate vineyards. Zaca Mesa also offers an outdoor space for weddings and other events amid its grenache blanc vineyards, which are framed by the Zaca Mesa barn and stunning mountain views.