Wes Hagen: Vineyard Manager, Winemaker. Wes has run the show here at Clos Pepe since 1998. He manages the vineyard and the crew, communicates with our producers and fine-tunes viticulture to suit the stylistic needs of their winemaking. Involving himself in every aspect of the planting, growing, harvest, crush, fermentation, aging, bottling, shipping and marketing (jncluding the photography and text in the website), Wes is passionate about his life's goal -- producing and celebrating world-class Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. From 1997-98, Wes researched and wrote the petition that established the Santa Rita Hills American Viticultural Area with help from Bryan Babcock, Richard Sanford and other local wine personalities. The 'Santa Rita Hills AVA' was approved in 2001, and the name was changed a few years later to 'Sta Rita Hills AVA'. In his quest to promote the wines of Santa Barbara County, and the Santa Rita Hills in particular, Wes created and served as Director of the Santa Barbara County Fair Wine Competition from 2002 until 2004. As a result of his hard work promoting the region and penning the AVA Petition, Wes was awarded the Central Coast Winegrower's Association 'Grower of the Year Award' for the 2001-2002 growing seasons. Wes writes a bi-monthly column for WineMaker Magazine called 'Backyard Vines', and has written content for the L.A. Times Magazine, guest blogged for the Wine Spectator and ZesterDaily.com, articles for the Sommelier Journal,'Burgundy-Report', WestCoastWine.Net, VineSwinger.com and other small publications. In his free time Wes consults on establihsing small vineyards (hillside Pinot Noir only), and has judged the L.A County Fair Wine Competition for eleven years, Riverside International for twelve, and the Long Beach Grand Cru for thirteen years. Wes also lectures on subjects such as the history of wine, backyard winegrowing, and general topics of viticulture and wine education.
Jeff Faber - Sales Manager Opolo Vineyards
Driving through the impressive entry gates off Vineyard Drive, you follow a long driveway with neat rows of Zinfandel vines on your left. Opolo make lots of Rhone, Bordeaux, Burgundy and California varietals-- and they have a lot of fun while they do it.
The name Opolo comes from a light Rose style of wine from the Dalmatian Coast where the family who owns the winery originated from. Tucked back out of sight from the main road, the winery operation sits amidst their west-side vineyard growing Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet and Chardonnay.
The climate here is influenced by maritime air from the coast and is particularly well suited to the varietals grown. Another estate vineyard is on the warmer east-side of Paso Robles and grows Petite Sirah, Petite Verdot, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Muscat Canelli. Some of their Rhone grapes are sourced from the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara Country. All the wine is made on the premises and the style of winemaking is fruit forward and flavorful. The winemaker uses French and American Oak for aging and for subtle bouquet.
The tasting room has a real "winery" feel, as it is located in the "cellar", and is well positioned to provide barrel samples of your favorite varietals. Informal tours are available so just ask. The simple tasting counters are made from wood planks over wine barrels. There is logo clothing, wine decanters, and picnic baskets for sale. In addition to wine stacked along the walls there are large format photographs of the annual “Grape Stomp” parties, which frequently include ethnic folk dancing and gypsy serenades.
On most weekends there is a BBQ lunch ($10). The mood here is fun and the clientele frequently lively. A winery expansion is in the works to include a larger winery and tasting room facilities plus a bed & breakfast.