SPRING 2009
Vol. 39, No. 4
FEATURES
Table of Contents
 
  Filmmakers Turn Focus on Haiti at Santa Barbara Film Festival By Emily Einolander ’09
  Marine Science Teaching Facility to be Built on UCSB Campus By Gail Gallesich, UCSB Public Affairs
  To the Point: Q and A with the Fantom of the Thunderdome
  Alumni Perspective: Playing at Predictors By Maya Rupert ’03
  UCSB Alumni Association 2009 Annual Meeting Notice
 
DEPARTMENTS
  Sports Roundup:
Women’s Basketball Wins Big West
  Research Roundup:
Program Maps Out Marine Protected Areas
  Around Storke Tower:
News & Notes From the Campus
  Alumni Authors:
Music, Evolution and Tragedy
  Milestones:
’40s to the Present
   
COVER
  David Potter ‘01, and Blair Fox, both winemakers at Fess Parker Winery, walk through Rodney’s Vineyard in Santa Barbara County. Potter draws on his experiences with winemaking in California, Australia, and France when producing wine under his own label, Municipal Winemakers.

Cover photo by Rob Brown / Winescapes Photography
 
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The Art of the Vine: Alumni Cultivate California Wine Industry
By Leah Etling ’00

Editor’s note: The Alumni Vintners Wine Tasting will be held 4-6 p.m. Saturday, April 25 at UCSB Faculty Club. Enjoy appetizers and some of California’s best wine while voting in the first annual Alumni Choice wine contest. Tickets are $20 general and $15 students. Please have your ID available. Go to www.ucsbalum.com/All_Gaucho_Reunion for more information.
Wineries offering samplings include:
• Alma Rosa Winery
• Artiste Winery & Tasting Studio
• Bugay Winery, Carina Cellars
• Gamba Vineyards and Winery
• Inman Family Wines
• Jaffurs Wine Cellars
• Malk Family Vineyards
• Municipal Winemakers
• Palmina Wines
• Sunstone Winery
• The Wine Shop
• X Winery
Click here for a list of alumni winemakers.

UC Santa Barbara may not have a winemaking program, but that hasn’t stopped the university from being the alma mater of some of the California’s premier winemakers.

The contributions of alumni to the winemaking industry will be noted during this year’s All Gaucho Reunion festivities. A wine-tasting event will feature the work of alumni vintners.

With the state wine industry having an annual impact of $51.8 billion on the state’s economy, according to the Wine Institute and California Association of Winegrape Growers, alumni winemakers are engaged in a vital state industry.

California’s signature industry

“California wine is a signature industry for the state, creating 875,000 jobs in the U.S. and billions in economic activity, while generating significant tourism, trade, taxes and revenue. The industry contributes to California’s international appeal, preserves family farms, protects the environment and provides enjoyment to many through its lifestyle, cuisine and culture,” said Wine Institute President and CEO Robert P. (Bobby) Koch.

While wine is the No. 1 finished agricultural product in the state, it also draws visitors to wine-growing areas. Visitors to California wineries grew from 14.8 million in 2002 to 19.7 million in 2005, according to the Wine Institute.

Meanwhile, a new crop of “emerging” varietal wines such as Pinot Gris/Grigio, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Tempranillo are gaining attention in the Golden State and beyond, according to the California Association of Winegrape Growers.

The Central Coast region, where two-thirds of our alumni-run and -staffed wineries are located, is a prime example.

The Central Coast’s rise to prominence as an area of significance in California’s wine industry has been meteoric over the last two decades. Appellations just a short drive from the UC Santa Barbara campus in the Santa Ynez and Lompoc valleys, in the Santa Rita Hills, and up the coast to Santa Maria, Arroyo Grande, San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles, have taken off.

Along the way, the area got a boost from Alexander Payne’s indie wine-buddy flick, “Sideways,” and tasting rooms have sprung up from Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone, to Solvang, to Los Alamos. The Santa Barbara County Vintner’s Association’s annual wine festival, held this year 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 18, at River Park in Lompoc, is usually a sold-out event.

Gabe Saglie, a Santa Barbara-area wine writer, observes that one thing many of the Central Coast alumni vintners have in common is an appreciation for regional sense of place, something that helps all of their wines stand out.

“In the case of these UCSB grads, it is no doubt part of the life lessons learned in a school that fostered pride and, ultimately, the calling to stay and give back. Stir in talent, and what results is a band of artisans committed to local proliferation and, at its core, to respecting and nurturing their own backyard,” Saglie said.

The following big names are all UC Santa Barbara alumni whose contributions to the wine industry are of some magnitude. This is by no means a complete list.

From case law to cultivars

During his junior year abroad in France, Jim Clendenen ’76 was exposed to wine culture for the first time. He was so mesmerized that he returned after graduation, and decided to pursue a career in wine rather than law school — he had been a pre-law major.

“No one has done more for Santa Barbara County wines than Jim Clendenen, as the ‘mind behind’ Au Bon Climat,” says Jim Fiolek, executive director of the county Vintner’s Association (and class of 1976 as well). “His peripatetic foot-and-mouth have been untiring ambassadors, and professors, for a wine region that was barely in its incubatory from when he was at UCSB. In other words, he’s been here from the start and is part of the foundation of our success.”

In 2001, Clendenen was named Food and Wine Magazine’s Winemaker of the Year. Other honors include being one of Food and Spirits Magazine’s 50 Most Influential Winemakers and Wine Gourmet’s Winemaker of the Year for 2004.

Au Bon Climat, his winery, is not open for tastings, but its wines can be found at Tastes of the Valleys, a collaborative tasting room in Solvang, 1672 Mission Drive.

A blend of family and history

Richard DoréWith a family tree that leads back to Benjamin Foxen, the north Santa Barbara County settler and local trailblazer, Richard Doré ’66 followed in his ancestor’s footsteps with Foxen Vineyards, which he started with partner Bill Wathen after a career as an investment banker.

Using the ideal climate and soils of his family’s Rancho Tinaquaic, Doré and Wathen planted their first grapes in 1989. They are known for dry-farming (no irrigation is used on the grapes) and grow Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Syrah on the ranch. Other grapes are grown in the Santa Maria Valley.

Noted wine critic Robert Parker Jr. has heralded Foxen’s creations, writing: “I hope readers have recognized how gorgeous the Foxen wines have been over the last five or six years. Their individuality and distinctiveness as well as high quality are evidenced in their newest releases,” after its 2008 releases.

“Dick Doré brought family, business, history, splendid wine — and fun — into Santa Barbara’s wine country at Foxen Vineyard,” Fiolek said.

Santa Barbara wine icon

Doug Margerum '81Although Doug Margerum ’81 sold his family’s iconic Santa Barbara restaurant, the Wine Cask, in 2006 to pursue other ventures, his name was recently back in the news when the restaurant’s new owner shut it down.

Margerum has said publicly that he will try to salvage at least part of the business, which his family had purchased the same year of his graduation from UC Santa Barbara, 1981.
The popular futures tasting hosted at the Wine Cask was an annual must on the local tasting scene.

Margerum has also earned accolades for his own vintages, produced at his Margerum Wine Company in Santa Ynez with winemaker Doug Scott. The wines made are small production with an emphasis on craftsmanship, and consumers seem particularly partial to the blends, like the M5. It was one of Wine Spectator’s Top 100 wines of the year for 2008.

A study in French influences

Greg BrewerGreg Brewer ’91 is one of the few alumni winemakers who was an academic before he went to the wine world full time. After graduating from UC Santa Barbara, he returned as a French instructor.

“I am very inspired by my French studies background and the historical and cultural perspective that France has had on the food and wine industry,” Brewer said in an interview. “I love taking that background knowledge and transposing/translating it into what I am currently involved with here in Santa Barbara.”

Brewer is the winemaker for Brewer-Clifton, his partnership with Chrystal Clifton ’00 and Steve Clifton (the Cliftons also produce Palmina Wines); Melville, a Lompoc Valley winery known for its earthy approach to vintages; and he also has his own personal production venture, Diatom, where he focuses on removing “all the extraneous elements” from wine production.

“Greg Brewer, like most of the great winemakers in Santa Barbara, was taught by Santa Barbara itself — its land, its vineyards, its vignerons. I use the French expression because Greg taught French at UCSB, and, because no one is, as the definition of the word implies, more focused on the cultivation of the vine as its definition of ‘place.’ And no one cares more about capturing the flavor, the character, and the spirit of each vineyard than Greg Brewer,” Fiolek said.

As one of the young up-and-coming winemakers on the Central Coast, Brewer is known for his dedication to the art of fine winemaking, as well as his homage to its cultural roots in France.

A return to wine industry roots

Simon Malk’s roots in the wine industry reach back to his family history in South Africa, where his great-grandfather owned a wine farm. Malk’s father, Brian, brought his family to the United States and 10 years ago decided to venture back into wine production.
Malk Family Vineyards owns one acre of grape production land in the coveted Stag’s Leap area of Napa Valley, and they produce 500 cases of handcrafted Cabernet Sauvignon each year.

Simon Malk ’93, who assists with the marketing of the product, was a fine art and business economics major at UC Santa Barbara whose most memorable wine experience while he was in college was enjoying a $2.50 Zinfandel while finishing an art studio project.
In contrast, the per-bottle price on a Malk Family bottle is $65.

Brian and Simon also honor their family ties to South Africa with the Umfundi Endowment, a fund they set up for UC Santa Barbara students in need of emergency financial assistance that is administered though the Office of Student Life.

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