28 Aug Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Visiting Piazza Family Wines’ Bella Vista Vineyard in Ballard Canyon in the Santa Ynez Valley
There are more than 200 wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley. A small percentage have public wineries open to visitors. Even more have tasting rooms in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, Solvang, Los Olivos, and downtown Santa Barbara. But there are many wineries who do not have tasting rooms open to the public. However, there are many small boutique wineries where you can make an appointment for a private tasting in the vineyard. One of these exclusive, private, personal tastings is at Piazza Family Wines’ Bella Vista Vineyard in Ballard Canyon in the Santa Ynez Valley, the Please The Palate pick of the week.
Piazza Family Wines is a young winery established in 2018 by Ron and Nancy Piazza. Ron and Nancy first came to the Santa Ynez Valley purchasing Mount Carmel Vineyard in the now Sta. Rita Hills AVA in 1988 and planted Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in 1989. With a desire to find property to build a home, in 2017, Ron and Nancy purchased Bella Vista Vineyard in Ballard Canyon overlooking Stolpman Vineyard and Beckmen’s La Purisma Vineyard. Previously named the Harrison Clark Vineyard, 14 acres were originally planted in 2001 and have been continuously organically farmed on limestone soils. They are growing Graciano, Grenache, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, and Syrah on the property. Winemaker Gretchen Voelcker joined the family business in 2019 and, working only with fruit from Bella Vista Vineyard, produces wines that have a sense of place. Piazza Family wines currently produces 850 cases per year.
In addition to making Piazza Family Wines, Gretchen also has her own label, Luna Hart. Working with fruit sourced from across the valley, Gretchen likes to play with skin contact on the white wines and tannin management on the red wines. Her approach to her winemaking, for both Luna Hart and Piazza Family Wines, is using organic fruit, minimal intervention, and no filtering or fining. For Luna Hart, Gretchen only produces 300 cases per year.
Both Piazza Family Wines and Luna Hart Wines are sold direct to consumer. And, neither has a tasting room at the current time. But it is possible to taste these utterly delicious wines in a private tasting with winemaker Gretchen Voelcker, or manager Tymari LoRe, while sitting under a shaded tree overlooking Bella Vista Vineyard, located approximately five miles from downtown Solvang.
A private tasting at Bella Vista Vineyards costs $50 per person and you will taste five or six wines, a mix of Piazza Family Wines and Luna Hart Wines.
From Piazza Family Wines, it may be the crisp, mineral driven Chardonnay; the fruity and savory Graciano or the fresh and fruity Carbonic Graciano; the beautiful Nancy’s Cuvee with red and black fruit, spice, and earth notes with beautiful acidity; the Reserve Syrah with spice, fruit, and mineral notes, or the Dominic’s Estate Red with its pretty aromatics of fruit, florals, and dried herbs.
From Luna Hart, it may be the light-bodied fresh Rosé of Syrah; the Gruner Veltliner with beautiful minerality and waxy viscosity; the aromatic Sauvignon Blanc made with partial skin contact and notes of nectarine juice; or the elegant Cabernet Franc with aromas of dark fruit, tobacco, and anise.
No matter which wines you taste, I know you will be satisfied. I am a huge fan of the wines that Gretchen makes and always love trying her new releases. So, if you want to visit this beautiful vineyard and have a private, personal tasting of the Piazza Family Wines and Luna Hart wines, book your appointment today via Tock for your next visit to the Santa Ynez Valley! I am confident this experience will be your pick of the week as well!