2009 Epiphany Cellars Santa Barbara Syrah-Cabernet

Mission Codename: Camp Time

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Revisit our good friends at Epiphany Cellars to retrieve their delicious Syrah-Cabernet Blend

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Epiphany Cellars

Wine Subject: 2009 Santa Barbara County Camp 4 Vineyard Syrah-Cabernet

Winemaker: Blair Fox


The Camp Four Vineyard (also known as Fess Parker Ranch) is 1,400-acre parcel of land that was purchased by Fess Parker Winery in the spring of 1999. The initial 250-acre block was completed and produced its first crop in harvest 2003 – of that about 130 acres are Syrah and the rest other Rhone varietals. Located slightly Southwest from the winery in the Santa Ynez Valley, the warmer climates and loam soils of this site shows great potential for producing fully ripened, mature fruit.

The Santa Ynez Valley, in Santa Barbara county is influenced but not dominated by the proximity to the Pacific Ocean. A little elevation and well drained soil makes for an ideal environment for viticulture as demonstrated by the range of great wines from the region

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Dense and dark garnet-purple, with a darker but clear core that shows garnet and ruby streaks when tilted into the light . The color remains dense to the very edges and when swirled, random and tightly spaced thick legs hang, color stained, on the side of the glass before slowly descending to the wine below.

Smell – Bold and redolent with savory, spicy and earthy notes that frame its ripe blackberry, boysenberry, dark plum and currant fruit. These bold aromas are followed by a black licorice, smoke, cocoa and mocha coffee.

Feel – Rich, deep and full-bodied, this expansive, chewy and dry wine generously expands over the palate with its sturdy and youthfully firm grained tannins, soft but present acidity and highly textured dark minerality reaches the back of the tongue. The mouthfeel of this wine definitely smoothes as it opens but it remains very well structured and textured.

Taste – Plush and rich with the dark blackberry, dark cherry and currents, savory smoked meat and dark earthy notes notes blending with a touch of black licorice and peppery spice that lingers with the other complex flavors that are found on the nose. Rich, spicy and smokey toasted oak frame the fruit and hints of dark mocha coffee.

Finish – Ripe and dark black fruit and this wine’s savory, spice and earthy flavors lingering long into the finish as the generous and sturdy structure lasts and lasts drying the tongue and inviting another mouthwatering sip.

Conclusion – The 2009 Epiphany Cellars Santa Barbara County Syrah-Cabernet is a generous, full-bodied and chewy blend that highlights both its Syrah and Cabernet roots. It’s nose packs flavorful punch of dark fruit but has great depth of complexity when explored fully. This is a wine that you eat by itself or enjoy with a big juicy grilled steak. Enjoy this wine tonight after letting it open up or cellar for the next five to seven years.

Mission Report:

We were unable to secure an interview with winemaker Blair Fox for this wine so please enjoy our interview with him when we featured Epiphany’s 2007 Stagecoach Vineyard Napa Valley Syrah


SUBJECT: Blair Fox

DATE OF BIRTH: October 1974

PLACE OF BIRTH: Santa Barbara, CA

WINE EDUCATION: B.S. Viticulture and Enology, UCDavis

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Enologist for Fess Parker Winery ‘99, Winemaker Sunstone Winery 99-02, Consultant winemaker Fess Parker Winery 02, Vintage Winemaker- Haselgrove Winery- McLaren Vale South Australia 03, Associate Winemaker in charge of the Rhone Varietal programs at Fess Parker 03-05, Head Winemaker for Fess Parker Winery 05-present

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: I spend a lot of time in the vineyard because I feel that wines are truly made in the vineyard. I try to show the different qualities of the different vineyards and create wines with distinct varietal character.

SIGNATURE VARIETAL: I have always been particularly fond of Syrah.

CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Traveling throughout the Rhone Valley in France and tasting some of the best examples of Syrah and other Rhone varietals the world has to offer.

WINEMAKER QUOTE: I feel privileged to work with some of the best vineyards and fruit in Santa Barbara County.


AGENT WHITE: Greetings, Blair. It’s great to be with you, again. Our operative’s love your wines. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Stagecoach Vineyard Napa Valley Syrah today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

BLAIR: Thank you for showing my wine today!

WHITE: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

BLAIR: My parents were always traveling the globe and bringing home wines to be drunk around the dinner table. I was planning on going to medical school to become a doctor but was lured into the Viticulture and Enology program at UC Davis.

WHITE: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?

BLAIR: I really enjoyed the viticulture side of the program, but then fell in love with the enology courses and being able to see the conversion of grapes to a final wine.

WHITE: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?

BLAIR: I feel the best wines are made in the vineyard. You have to be diligent with your vineyard practices to grow grapes worthy of making great wine. It is all about fruit quality, canopy management and managing your yields to produce the most exciting wines possible.

WHITE: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

BLAIR: I am impressed by all great wines made around the world. I have gained experience making wines in two different hemispheres and like a sponge have absorbed as much knowledge from every winemaker I have ever worked with.

WHITE: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

BLAIR: As an exploratory mission, we decided to search out some of the best vineyards in different growing regions that would be a counterpoint stylistically to the great Syrahs of Santa Barbara. Fortunately, we found a renowned vineyard to work with in Stagecoach, and the results are everything we hoped for after bringing the grapes down to our Los Olivos facility on temperature-controlled trucks.

WHITE: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

BLAIR: This is an earthy, meaty, dense wine that needs something equally meaty to stand up to it. My call would be a leg of lamb roast with rosemary, garlic, and sea salt.

WHITE: In your opinion, what makes the Stagecoach Vineyard so special?

BLAIR: The Stagecoach Vineyard is perched about 1,800 feet above the Napa Valley floor and benefits from the well-drained oxidized soils, southernly exposure and slightly cooler night-time temperatures associated with mountain vineyards. I personally love Syrah vineyards planted in that red dirt… it reminds me of my time in Mc Laren Vale.

WHITE: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

BLAIR: We are in the middle of racking and blending a lot of our wines right now. I taste every barrel for quality and defects to make sure only the best wines are produced.

WHITE: Who do you make wine for?

BLAIR: I make wines to be enjoyed by all. At Epiphany Cellars we specialize in the production of Rhone Varietal wines and blends. I want these wines to be balanced with intense fruit character, rich mouthfeel and beautiful aromatics.

WHITE: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?

BLAIR: I am very casual about my approach to wine. I feel wines are best drunk with food, but are also great as an aperitif or after dinner. I feel you should drink what you enjoy regardless of price or region. It is fun to be adventurous with wine and see what else is out there.

WHITE: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?

BLAIR: I love Syrah and would choose something like an old Grange from Penfolds or Cote Rotie from the Northern Rhone.

WHITE: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!


Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Epiphany Cellars in Solvang can be seen in this satellite photo.

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