This article originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register (October 9, 2015).
Ask any winemaker and they will tell you that wine is made in the vineyard. It is not possible to make good wine from bad grapes. And, vineyards are not stagnant, offering variety. So, whether you own a vineyard or purchase fruit from a grower, winemakers are very careful in selecting their vineyards. Case in point, Larner Vineyard, situated in Ballard Canyon in Santa Ynez.
Ballard Canyon is located between Santa Ynez Mountains, a transverse mountain range, to the south and the San Rafael Mountains, created by the San Andreas Fault, to the north. Ballard Canyon is in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley and is the home to 17 vineyards and six producers. The Pacific Ocean is 17 miles to the west and fog comes in and burns off by 11:30 a.m. By 12:30 p.m. there is a cool breeze from the Pacific Ocean. Specializing in Rhone varietals, Ballard Canyon became an AVA in October 2013. Of the 600 acres planted, 300 of the acres are planted to Syrah.
Larner Vineyard was planted in 1999 by founding family members Stevan, Christine, Monica and Michael Larner. Sitting at an elevation of 500-680 feet above sea level, the property is a total of 134 acres with 34 acres planted and 30-40 acres still to plant. The varietals planted are Syrah (23 acres), grenache (6 acres), viognier (2.5 acres), mourvedre (2 acres) and malvasia bianca (1.4 acres). The Larner Vineyard has transitioned from sustainable to organic and is in the process of being certified.