About Bridlewood Estate Winery and winemaker Mark Williams
Bridlewood Estate Winery is located in the Santa Ynez AVA in Santa Barbara wine country. It was purchased by the Gallo Family in 2004. We had the delightful pleasure of meeting Bridlewood Estate winemaker Mark Williams this last Sunday. Mark Williams has been the winemaker at Bridlewood for the past two years. We tasted two of Mark’s favorite wines with appetizers. He described how these wines were made.
The 2012 Santa Barbara Chardonnay. This wine is grown in the Santa Maria Valley and fermented in cement eggs*. Each egg is 120 gallons, the size of two wine barrels. Two things happen to the Chardonnay in the egg. The first is that the shape of the egg turns the yeast by itself, so there is no need to stir the fermenting grape juice. This process gives a creamy mouth feel to the Chardonnay. Secondly, the cement gives the wine some minerality. This Chardonnay is balanced to the core, not too much oak or heaviness to the wine. The second wine we tasted with Mark was the 2010 Estate Santa Ynez Reserve Syrah. He co-fermented the Syrah with a little Viognier. The wine is “pumping out tons of licorice and cassis.” Mark states that the Santa Barbara wine country of Santa Ynez is the ideal climate for growing Syrah. Indeed this Syrah is gentle, but robust with complex flavors. We loved it paired with proscuttio and also with the avocado and sea urchin appetizer. These two wines are sold only at the Bridlewood Estate tasting room. The Bridlewood winery with its Spanish architecture and spacious views make it an ideal stop on the wine trails of Santa Barbara. The tasting room is open daily from 11am to 5 pm. Consult the Bridlewood website for complete details on the various tastings, tours, and even a carriage ride through the vineyards.
More about the Santa Barbara Wine Country
* Note: This is the second concrete egg of have encountered recently in California wine country. Andis Winery’s concrete egg made my Wine Photo of the Day.