Happy Canyon Vineyard is a family owned and operated estate vineyard and boutique winery in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County. It was purchased in the early 1990s by Tom Barrack, a polo enthusiast who also has a passion for wine. Happy Canyon consists of 60 acres and forms part of the Piocho Ranch, which includes two regulation sized Polo fields and ponies.
Happy Canyon Vineyard is also one of several wineries that today form part of the Happy Canyon AVA that was approved in 2009. Located in the eastern most end of the Santa Ynez Valley, it is the warmest micro-climate of the valley with summertime temperatures reaching the low to mid-nineties. The soils are a mixture of loam and clay loam and are low in nutrients. The AVA is ideally suited for growing Sauvignon Blanc and other Bordeaux varieties.
Happy Canyon Vineyard produces 3000 cases annually under the Piocho and Barrack brands. The current winemaker is the affable Sean D. Pitts (shown here), son-in-law of owner, Tom Barrack. Doug Margeurm, one of Santa Barbara’s top producers serves as consulting winemaker. The wines are all estate-grown and consist of Bordeaux and Rhone varieties. The wines are very well made. Unfortunately, they are not widely available. Readers who wish to purchase them will have to contact the winery. Tel: 805-2039. The winery also has a wine club.
Happy Canyon Vineyard 2018 Piocho Sauvignon Blanc Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara ($25) 92 The Piocho Sauvignon Blanc is a perfumed and flavorful wine, full in the mouth and rich and round on the palate. A Bordeaux-like California wine with enriched barrel fermented-Semillon revealing medium acidity and richness on the finish.
Happy Canyon Vineyard 2015 Barrack Family Blanc Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara ($38) 93 The Barrack Family Blanc is a Bordeaux-style blend of 2/3 Semillon and 1/3 Sauvignon blanc. The Semillon is fermented and aged on the lees for 10 months in a 600 liter demi-muid Taransaud oak barrel and is blended with Sauvignon Blanc that is aged in all neutral French oak. It is then blended and spends a year in barrel and was bottled in 2017. The wine offers aromas and flavors of toasted brioche and figs, with rich smokiness, vanilla and orchard fruits. Mouth filling. A beauty. Happy Canyon Vineyard 2015 Piocho Red Blend Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara ($32) 92 The “Piocho” is a Bordeaux style right bank red blend of 56% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon and small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Aged 22 months in new and two year old neutral Taransaud French oak barrels, it offers red plum and ripe cherry fruit. It is nicely balanced and integrated with firm round tannins and a long and slightly earthy finish. Happy Canyon Vineyard 2015 Barrack Family Estate Brand Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara ($50) 91 A blend of 80% Merlot and 5% each of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet France and Petit Verdot, the Barack Family Estate Brand is a fruit forward wine with pleasant flavors of plum and black cherries. It exhibits lovely purity of flavor and a soft round mouth feel with a low alcohol level (13.5%).and a pleasant finish. Happy Canyon Vineyard 2015 Barack Family “Ten Goal” Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara ($82) 94 This is a gorgeous and complex opaque wine sourced from head trained vines on eight acres of hillside vineyards yielding 2 tons per acre. A blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and small amounts of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec, it exhibits concentrated black currant fruit with a silky smooth, elegant mouth feel and light toast. Aged 22 months in Taransaud “T5” barriques, it is an age worthy wine with firm tannins needing at least two more years in the bottle. A powerful wine.