OK, I admit it, I love soaps (the television serial kind) and I love wine… and did I find the perfect place to mix them both – from soapland’s Port Charles, NY to real life’s Santa Ynez Valley.
The soap part:
My addiction to ‘love in the afternoon’ dramas started in college with the character-driven, New York produced “Another World.” This was a jewel of a show and when it was cancelled, my heart was broken.
I needed a replacement. A soap ‘fix! (Well, I did say I was an addict, right?) I soon found one when I was mentored by Doris Silverton (who also became my surrogate mom when my husband and I moved to LA). Doris wrote for “General Hospital” (GH as it’s affectionately referred to) and soon I was involved (even writing a bit) in the lives and loves of the citizens of Port Charles.
It was in Port Charles I met Carly (Benson, Spencer, Quartermaine, Corinthos, Jax), a complex “bad” girl created by the wonderful Sarah Brown and who is now played by the sublime Laura Wright, both Emmy winners for the role. So, what has that got to do with wine? Well, when you spend so much time with soap characters (5 days a week, 52 weeks a year, year in and year out), they become family. So, like a lot of family members I follow on Twitter, I follow a few favorites and Laura/Carly is one of them.
Now the wine part:
While reading Laura’s tweets, I discovered that she and her husband, John, own and operate a winery in the “Sideways” Santa Ynez region. I began following the winery and learned that John grows the grapes, blends, bottles and sells the wine. Since I write about wine it was a match made in heaven. So, when I knew Richard and I were going to be in the neighborhood, I tweeted John to see if we could visit Standing Sun’s tasting room even though it was still under construction. Graciously, he said yes.
When we arrived mid-afternoon, John was knee-deep in hammering and sawing, but stopped and warmly welcomed us into a small room with a plywood bar set up for wandering tasters. As he uncorked the wines, he told us how the winery’s name and label came into being. The label is a photograph of his and his son’s shadows as they stood side-by-side in the setting sun. John, who’s also an architect, designer, artist and cook (a true renaissance man), used that photograph to design the wine’s label. A sun was born.
We tasted five of Standing Sun’s wine and all five were truly scrumptious.
The first was the 2010 Blanc ($24) – I’m not usually a ‘blanc’ lover in the sharp sauvignon blanc sense (I’m more of a buttery chardonnay girl), but this wine was an interesting complex blend of 34% Grenache blanc, 33% Rousanne and 33% Viognier that I’d never had before. I fell in love in the afternoon.
Next was the 2010 Pinot Noir Rose ($20). It was Richard’s turn to fall in love at first blush (I know, I know – I couldn’t help myself), and I joined him (I’m just a fickle wine lover). Delightful, slightly fruity (but not sweet), we loved this rose so much, Richard paired it w/ an entree of sea scallops in an orange-mustard-basil sauce served w/ a citrus couscous that he made last night. A perfect marriage of delicious food and wine.
The 2010 Pinot Noir ($20) is a marvel for the price - filled w/ tastes of berries and spices and aromas that brought back childhood memories of the rich tobacco blend that my father tamped into his pipe.
Time for the 2009 Grenache ($28) – I had been reading the Twitter love letters to this wine and have joined them in their love affair. I told you, I’m fickle.
Last – and my very favorite Standing Sun wine (well, at that moment anyway), was the 2009 GSM which is 30% Grenache, 40% syrah and 30% Mourvedre. 100% delicious!
John then took us inside and shared his plans and his vision for the soon to be finished winery and tasting room he’s designed as a mix of cozy comfort and industrial chic. He projects that it will all be completed mid-September and Richard and I hope to be standing at the bar for another tasting in Standing Sun’s new winery as the sun is setting.
So, if you find yourself on the 101 near the town of Buellton and looking for a little liquid love in the afternoon, take the next exit and head to Standing Sun.
Standing Sun Wines
P.O. Box 1944
Santa Ynez, Calif. 93460