by | Mar 4, 2021 | Red, Wine Reviews | 0 comments


This is a very hospitable wine for ALL consumers who would love an easy-drinking wine. It has its roots (LOL no pun intended)  in revered Ballard Canyon AVA; the first Syrah fixated  AVA in California!  Imagine this area is only shy of 8000 acres and 50% is proudly planted to the noble grape SYRAH. The area known as Ballard Canyon in the Santa Ynez proper has a long heritage and was built on farming traditions. Yet, Peter Stolpman had a mission to change all that in the ’90s. The small special pocket is located within the more well-known city of Buellton, CA. Yes, this is the same city home to Vanderbilt Air Force base. In 1974, Gene Hallock founded the Ballard Canyon Winery, on what is now the iconic Rusack Vineyards. In the ’90s, pioneers Stolpman, Beckmen, Harrison, Larner, and Saarloos families planted vineyards, not training barracks. These men formed the Alliance of the Ballard Canyon WINEGROWERS Association; which Mr. Stolpman eventually was respectfully appointed President.

Established in 1992 Stolpman Estate is grown from Côte-Rôtie cuttings! OMG! I’m already excited! Pete Stolpman’s (I like to call him Pete) cuvée is even supposed to be designed like a classic Northern Rhône red. He brilliantly co-ferments 2% of Viognier for a song and dance added the big daddy Syrah for the wine’s center stage structure. But what really threw me off at first sniff was how floral it was. If I had not looked at the label I would have pegged the wine, hands down as a GSM Cotes du Rhone Village. The taste was equally compelling because the wine did not mirror the expectation I was looking for of the standard Cote Rotie “style” it claimed to be. When I researched he sneaked in some Grenache into the co-fermentation, cerebral palate was finally able to relax.

Northern Rhone Cote Rotie NO, Cotes du Rhone “G”sm YES!. notice I capitalized “G” for pretty flamboyant Grenache. This wine is way too perfume and unbalanced for the high profiled “Roasted Slopes” of the same name Cote Rotie AOP.


It’s laced with fruits as if you were transported to a farmer’s market. There are generous flavors of juicy fruit almost like my favorite cereal Fruity Pebbles.   The color of the wine is just as vibrant as a bag full of Skittles. The accentuation of strawberries, maraschino cherries is akin to the Shirley Temple I grew up with, muddled with dried rose petals, and then it finishes off like a blueberry pie over melted vanilla ice cream. On the nose and palate, I feel like I want to cuddle up with my favorite “ Woobie” AKA blanket with its sea of velour tannins.

I’m not saying it’s a bad wine, it’s a VERY attractive wine. But I do have issues with critics and winemakers making misleading claims about wines. 

If this is equivalent to a Cote Rotie this wine better has a solid core of gripping tannins, permeating with meats smoking with a nice char over an open flame. I want it to taste like a barnyard party after a rodeo. Where are the wild berries kissed with the sun, bright acid picked from ferrous soils… earthy, deep, and brooding! Did I miss the train?  

 These are the descriptors by big commercial critics:

Kansas City BBQ

Built to last

Sifted Ash

Earthy Tension

Ground Pepper

Grippy Palate

Come on guys, did someone pay you for the reviews, are you sellouts or just simply just go with the herd because you’re lazy or don’t have a solid opinion. Thoughts anyone??????


“Ballard Canyon is my Baby…. it’s our symbol to the world that we are an AVA dedicated to this grape”
Pete Stolpman


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Thank you and remember Taste Small Live Big!
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