The prestigious James Beard Foundation once named Bryan to a list of "Top Ten Small Production Winemakers in the World", with Bryan being the only American chosen for this oenological dream team.

THE BEGINNING, CIRCA 1978...

Babcock Vineyards was established in 1978 when Mona and Walter Babcock purchased a 110 acre property on Highway 246 between Lompoc and Buellton in the western Santa Ynez Valley. At the time, the Babcocks were in the restaurant business, as they are to this day, being the proprietors of the legendary Walt’s Wharf in Seal Beach California. Over the years Walter practiced a number of crafts, making him a full-fledged Renaissance guy. At the time of establishing the vineyard, he was also a dentist and a commercial fisherman. Shortly after the purchase of their property, the Babcocks planted a modest 20 acres to such varieties as Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. In 1983, after building a small garage and purchasing a few wine barrels, they took a whack at their first experimental vintage. That year, they also delivered small batches of fruit to a few of the more notable winemakers in the area. While Rick Longoria and Fred Brander made compelling Sauvignon Blancs, Jim Clendenen at Au Bon Climat produced a stunning Chardonnay.

Prompted by the promising results, Walt and Mona decided it was time to seize the opportunity to produce commercial wines. While they were setting the stage for a small fledgling winery, their son, Bryan, decided to cut short his graduate school studies and join them. In 1982 Bryan was having trouble getting accepted to the business schools of his choice. With Harvard, Stanford and Wharton having tossed his modest undergraduate credentials into the trash, Bryan felt it best to check out “the wine thing” with mom and dad. As a result, he took majors in biology and chemistry from Occidental College and applied to UC Davis to start a master’s in enology. After spending two years on course work, he was supposed to return to Davis to put together a thesis for his degree in the fall of 1984. Says Bryan, “I started crushing Gewurztraminer that September and forgot about school altogether.” Fortunately, his studies primed him for his first harvest, as he was awarded gold medals at the L.A. and Orange County Fairs for his 1984 Estate Grown Sauvignon Blanc. {Interestingly, one of Bryan’s more memorable early career moments was being invited to lecture the business students at Wharton a few years later on the in’s and out’s of the wine industry.}

TODAY...

Still family-owned and operated, Babcock Winery and Vineyards is a focused 10,000-case winery with 65 acres currently planted to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Gris. Experimental varieties such as Albarino, Sangiovese, and Tempranillo have already come and gone. Bryans' projects these days include Chenin Blanc as well as the development of a new in-house clone of Pinto Noir, Psi Clone. Another compelling development for Bryan is the TTB's relatively recent promotion of the American Viticultural Appellation, Sta. Rita Hills. The Babcock’s winery and vineyard is in the heart of the appellation, which is now considered by wine aficionados to be among the greatest regions in the world for the growing of Pinot Noir. 

Bryan credits a strong sense of integration as his greatest attribute as a craftsman. He also credits his timing for when he got into the wine business as one of the reasons for his success. “I had a number of wonderful mentors who encouraged me along the way. The first few years were a great time to be alive and be making wine in Santa Barbara County.” Since then Bryan has become one of the brightest stars in the field of American winemaking. His awards and recognitions are many. NOT ONLY HAS HE BEEN SELECTED BY THE LOS ANGELES TIMES AS ONE OF THE "TEN BEST WINEMAKERS OF THE YEAR", HE WAS ALSO ONCE NAMED BY THE TIMES "MOST COURAGEOUS WINEMAKER OF THE YEAR" FOR HIS PROVOCATIVE APPROACH. The prestigious James Beard Foundation once named Bryan to a list of "Top Ten Small Production Winemakers in the World," with Bryan being the only American chosen for this oenological dream team. In choosing Bryan for this award, David Moore wrote, "Bryan Babcock best exemplifies the traits I look for in a great winemaker. The quality of Bryan's wines speaks for themselves, yet it is his personal commitment to excellence that stands out so much. His relentless experimentation, his willingness to explore the possibilities with so many grape varieties, and his aesthetic are a world apart from the usual American approach to winemaking."

These days, Bryan considers his trophies to be the locally grown pinots in his Terroir Extraordinaire portfolio. Says Bryan, "The proof is in the pudding—the Sta. Rita Hills is the real deal."



"Bryan Babcock best exemplifies the traits I look for in a great winemaker. The quality of Bryan's wines speaks for themselves, yet it is his personal commitment to excellence that stands out so much. His relentless experimentation, his willingness to explore the possibilities with so many grape varieties, and his aesthetic are a world apart from the usual American approach to winemaking."