Spear Vineyards and Winery: A New Promising Farm Winery in the Sta. Rita Hills

Spear is a tiny and relatively new, family-owned Santa Barbara winery that shows great promise.  Its estate vineyard nestled in the Sta Rita Hills is certified organic and sustainable.  It was first planted in 2013  on 33 acres, and its first releases were from the 2016 vintage.  The operation is owned by Ofer Shepher, a California farmer who originally purchased a one thousand acre farm in the Sta Rita Hills. He later decided to grow grapes and produce wine, having developed a passion for Pinot Noir.  Ofer is also the owner of Gnesa Ranch and Vineyard from which he sources grapes for  Spear’s Chardonnay.

Winemaker Kat Gaffney

Spear’s wines from the 2016 vintage were crafted by no less than Greg Brewer, one of Santa Barbara’s finest winemakers.  Brewer also helped design Spear’s small winery on the premises.  Since 2017 winemaking has been in the hands of Kat Gaffney, who learned winemaking on the job in Oregon and San Luis Obispo and under the tutelage of Greg Brewer.  The 2017 wines reviewed here were crafted by her, and she has done a fine job.  She is committed to minimalist winemaking, allowing the terroir to speak for itself, and it does.

Tasting Notes

Spear 2017 Pinot Noir Estate Sta Rita Hills ($45) 92   This is a lovely young-tasting Pinot Noir.  Medium ruby in color, it offers aromas and flavors of rhubarb and cranberry with a touch of earthiness.  Crafted with 15% whole clusters and aged 10 months in neutral barrels, it is smooth on the palate and a little spicy with excellent balance and persistent flavors.

2016 Chardonnay Estate Sta Rita Hills ($35)  92 Yellow gold in color, this Chardonnay is barrel fermented with aromas and flavors of white flowers, stone fruit, tropical notes and toasted smoky oak.  Aged 10 months in neutral oak, it reveals a smoky character, even Chablis flintiness and has a lovely mouth feel.  Sourced from three clones: Wente, 4 and 96.

2017 Chardonnay Gnesa ($45) 93 Medium yellow. This Chardonnay is somewhat tastier than the 2016 Estate Chardonnay. It offers aromas of white flowers and tropical fruit with a light  hint of toast Also barrel fermented, it is a pretty wine sourced from Ofer Spherer’s Gnesa Vineyard.

2017 Chardonnay Gnesa Stainless ($55) 93  Fermented in stainless steel, the Gnesa Chardonnay spends 5 months in barrel before bottling. A lovely wine with moderate oak influence and well integrated with tropical and stone fruit flavors.  Very flavorful and a good compromise between barrel fermentation and unoaked. No malo.

Spear 2017 Syrah Estate Sta Rita Hills ($45) 91Medium ruby.  Showing light and delicate flavors, the Syrah is cool climate in character, peppery with good intensity. More red than blue fruit with notes of leather and forest floor.  Crafted with 20% whole clusters and aged 10 months in neutral oak.  13.5 alc.


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