When I met Sonja Magdevski on the set of The Wine Down, she told me about her tasting room at Babi's Tasting Room in Los Alamos. Los Alamos is a rustic cowboy town located approximately fifty miles north of Santa Barbara off of Highway 101. The town is named after the Spanish word for “the cottonwoods” which line the stream banks running through the valley. So, my first stop my third day of traveling up the California coast as I headed back to the S.F. Bay area was the artsy tasting room of Casa Dumetz Wines.
Sonja on "The Wine Down"
Winemaker, journalist and Lip TV talk-show host Sonja Magdevski moved to Malibu California (2 hours south of Los Alamos) in 2002. Together with her husband and assistant winemaker Emilio Estevez (actor, film director, and writer well known for being a member of the “Brat Pack” of the 1980s), they tend the estate vines themselves and take a handcrafted, minimalist approach in their winemaking.
The Pinot Noir (which was unavailable when I visited) comes from their 800 estate-grown Malibu grapevines and the fruit for the Viognier, Syrah Rosé, Syrah, Grenache and Sonja’s new Suds Sparkling Syrah Rosé are sourced from Tierra Alta Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley. Currently Casa Dumetz is a tiny two-person operation (Sonja and Emilio) and the 2010 vintage production was just over 600 cases.
While visiting the tasting room I sampled the following wines:
My first sample was the 2011 Rose Bud, a Syrah Rosé – Tierra Santa Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley. This wine is salmon-pink in color and very expressive with a beautiful bouquet of strawberries, pomegranates, watermelon with a hint of spice in the background. On the palate it is dry and crisp with refreshing acidity. This is a really nice Rosé for $25 a bottle.
The second pour was the 2011 Babi’s Gewürztraminer, Santa Ynez Valley. The nose of this wine exudes honeydew melon, lychee, lime and a very faint hint of hazelnut. On the palate this wine has a weighty mid palate and a slight creaminess and yet it also maintains a clean, crisp finish. This wine is spectacular and sells for $27 and I took a bottle home.
The third wine in the line-up was the 2010 Syrah – Tierra Santa Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley. Bright ruby red in color, this wine has a very intense, seductive perfumed nose of jammy strawberries, cranberry sauce, red roses and spice. It has a bouquet you could enjoy for hours without even taking a sip! On the palate it is medium bodied with good acidity and a medium+ length finish. This is an absolutely fabulous wine that sells for only $28 a bottle and needless to say, I bought one for my cellar.
Usually tasting rooms start with white wines and then transition to reds. But Sonja saved the next wine until after the first red which was the 2011 100% Viognier. This wine has a HUGE tropical nose with aromas of pineapple, coconut and bananas. On the palate it is dry, fruit driven and full bodied with substantive weight (medium+), good acidity and a really long finish. This is without a doubt, one of the best Viogniers I have had in a really long time so I brought one home for $27.
My final wine was the 2010 Gravitas Grenache – Tierra Santa Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley. A blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah, this wine is similar to the Syrah in its vibrancy and expressiveness but has more sweet raspberries and spice on the nose. On the palate it has a full-mouth feel with medium+ weight and a lingering finish. This is a really fabulous wine for $29 and I brought one of these home as well.
Sonja is not only the winemaker, she also decorated the tasting room, designed the wine labels (they are beautiful!) and serves the wine on weekends at the tasting room in Los Alamos they opened only five months ago. If you are ever driving up Highway 101 during the weekend, their tasting room is a “must visit.”
To visit or for more information:
Casa Dumetz Wines
Bab’s Tasting Room
448 Bell Street, Suite B
Los Alamos, California 93440
Friday & Saturday 11 am - 7 pm