When I first arrived on the wine scene in the early 1990’s Santa Barbara was just starting to explode onto the national wine scene. Sure, prior to that there were many pioneers planting vineyards and building wineries in the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. I’m sure that without those pioneers the generation I want to show my appreciation to wouldn’t have had the foundation they did. The generation I want to acknowledge is the one before mine.
I had two wine experiences that changed my life. I was already stung by the wine bug when I got my first tasting room job in 1993. But it was when I tasted a Syrah – Malbec blend from Zaca Mesa (1989 or 1990, I can’t remember, I’m getting old) and around the same time 1990 Hermitage La Chapelle from Jaboulet that changed my life. I’d never even heard of Syrah before 1992, now I was hooked. Syrah was going to be my life’s obsession! Lucky for me the 1990s were when Santa Barbara started to gain notice and people were investing in vineyards and wineries.
After Zaca Mesa I went onto my first cellar job at Fess Parker who was all in on Rhone Wines, then to Babcock who was more about Burgundy varietals but was planting Syrah in a cool climate, then off to Beckman who at the time was planting Purisima Mountain Vineyard.
Beckmen was planting all of the new clones coming into the U.S. at the time. I’m super lucky to have the fortune and timing to be in the right place at the right time. Vineyards were being planted everywhere in SBC! So many cool vineyards to choose from.
Then came 1998 the year I started Tensley. Only 4 barrels produced that year! Three barrels of Alisos Canyon Syrah and one barrel of Thompson Syrah. From there I was off and running bringing in new vineyards from all over Santa Barbara.
Here we are 24 years later and I’m still making Syrah. Since then I’ve started making small lots of other Rhone grapes both red and white. But, now that I see a whole new generation coming up under me, I realized sometimes in life we need to take a look back to see what has made us who we are and where we want to go in the future. The P2KV wines are me doing exactly that. With the rise of this new generation, I felt like it was my time to say thank you to those before me. This is a salute to the OGs that had the vision, stayed on course, and opened up a whole life path for young, dumb, kids like me. My idea was to go back to some of the vineyards that paved the way, all planted before 2000 when our local Rhone varietal boom began.
Alisos Canyon Vineyard
Colson Canyon Vineyard
Hopefully, more to come…..
Thank you… Adam, Bill, Bob, Bryan, Chris, David, Eli, Jim, Reo, Stephen, Steve, and Tom Without the vision of these people and so so many more, we wouldn’t be where are today.