Santa Barbara County California is one of the most dynamic and diverse wine growing areas in the world. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay planted in the coolest coastal reaches of this region have been garnering critical acclaim for decades, and Syrah has more than carved out a place for itself in Ballard Canyon, but more recently other grape varieties have begun generating a buzz. Bordeaux varieties specifically are gaining rapid traction in some of the hotter eastern reaches of the county as warm sunny days and cool foggy nights allow for these grapes to reach complete phenolic ripeness. On our quest to discover more about the Santa Barbara producers working with these famed Bordelais grapes we found one estate in particular that we just had to look into.
Pegasus Estate Winery is a micro-boutique producer located just a few miles outside the town center of Solvang in Santa Barbara County. The property is primarily utilized as an equestrian center specializing in rehabilitation of older or rescued animals. The estate vineyard itself lies on a steep south facing hillside that, while not suitable for horses, is an absolutely ideal location to grow grape vines. It was planted in 2007 to 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and is immediately surrounded on all sides by 400 rose bushes and 100 assorted fruit & nut trees. At the bottom of the vineyard lies a seasonal creek bed lined in honeysuckle vines that fills with mountain run-off in the winter. As if that weren't enough beautiful greenery there is also a cultivated lavender patch growing adjacent to the creek bed just opposite the vineyard. It is said that the world's best wines come from the most beautiful places and the Pegasus Estate is undoubtedly one of the most perfectly executed vineyard sites around.
After reading all about Pegasus Estate we decided we needed to pay them a visit to witness this place for ourselves. Owners Mike and Peg Crowley kindly invited us by for a look at their property and naturally we jumped at the chance. Upon arriving we quickly realized that this place is the real deal. Peg carted us around in the estate's 4WD cart and we were amazed to see that the little slice of heaven we had read all about was actually more idyllic in person. We first ventured down to the vineyard to get a look at the crown jewel of the property and poke around among the vines.
Now at 11 years of age these vines were clearly hearty, healthy, and strong. Thick gorgeous clusters of beautiful Cabernet hung beneath the canopy of each vine, poking their way out to bathe in the late morning sunshine. The color of the fruit in particular took us by surprise. The nearly-ripe berries exhibited an impenetrable midnight purple hue that seemed to remain opaque even under direct sunlight - a dramatic change from the thin-skinned almost translucent Pinot Noir we had helped harvest the same weekend. The energy of this small but mighty vineyard could only be described as peaceful, harmonious, and in-sync.
After stumbling around the vineyard for a while and gazing at the bounty of its forthcoming harvest we followed Peg to the see the rest of the estate. We passed over the creek through the honeysuckle vines and on towards the lavender patch. Fragrant floral perfume filled the air as we stood among the purple flowers and gazed back up at the vineyard. Again we were in awe at the intentionality of this project as it was clear that the aromatics from the blooming flowers would have an influence on the nearby grapes.
We moved back up the hill and after returning to the equestrian quarters decided that no visit to Pegasus Estate would be complete without a meet and greet with the horses themselves! Peg kindly introduced us to a very pretty mare named Heart who let us feed her carrots and pet her silky mane. Heart was accompanied by a very interesting sheep named "Smokey Lambinson" that was rescued from the California Channel Islands. His piercing eyes and beautiful coat intrigued us, and we got to pet him some too. Bella the dog saw the commotion and came by to check out the scene and naturally got a few belly rubs of her own.
We thought we were coming just to check out the property, but Mike and Peg set up a wonderful surprise charcuterie spread and wine tasting for us as well. We were able to visit through multiple vintages of their estate Cabernet Sauvignon as well as a Sauvignon Blanc and a Rosé. All Pegasus Estate Wines are produced with the help of winemaker Ken Brown and the quality is magnificent. The Cabernet Sauvignons in particular must be tasted to be believed. They are remarkably floral - more so than any other example from this varietal that we have ever experienced - with pronounced notes of lavender, violet, and orchard blossom. They drink rather delicate and feminine with layer upon layer of subtle nuance. Food friendly and remarkably balanced, these wines were living proof of the potential of Bordeaux grapes Santa Barbara.
Full, stoked, and satisfied we gathered our thoughts as we departed from Pegasus Estate. We could have easily enjoyed an entire day there relaxing, taking in the views, and chatting with our wonderful hosts. Our only regret is that we did not carve out more time to spend at this picturesque property. The undeniable charm and unwavering intentionality of Pegasus Estate Winery had captured our hearts, and we cannot wait until our next opportunity to return and smell the roses.