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Gypsy Canyon

Gypsy Canyon founder and winemaker Deborah Hall honors the history of early California winemaking by her unique hand blown glass bottles and embossed glass seals that hark back to time of the Spanish Padres from Mexico who established a chain of California missions from 1767 to 1833 and planted Mission grapes along the way. Her ancient Mission grape vineyard of 3 acres was planted in 1887, and is part of only 10 acres still growing in California, and is the oldest producing vineyard in Santa Barbara County.

The original Gypsy Canyon property was acquired by Deborah and her spouse as a getaway from the rigors of practicing medicine (he was a physician and she was a nurse). Shortly thereafter, Deborah’s husband passed away and she sold 160 acres of the property, retaining 130 acres. She planted 12 acres of vineyard in 1999 to Pinot Noir (Dijon clones 777 and 115) and Pinot Gris. The estate vineyard, which is located in an exceptionally cool microclimate in the Sta. Rita Hills, was named Gypsy Canyon Santa Rita Creek Vineyard. The first harvest was 2003.

Gypsy Canyon is a tiny, boutique winery, producing about 500 cases of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and the Estate Ancient Vine Angelica. The 2013 releases include “The Collector’s” Pinot Noir made from estate vineyard fruit, and “The Moment” Pinot Noir that is a barrel selection from the vineyard. The 2012 “Ground Boots” Pinot Noir is made from sourced fruit with all profits going to Soi Dog, a charity which rescues and cares for thousands of dogs each year.

The Ancient Vine Angelica is my favorite all-time dessert wine. The Ancient Vine Angelica is a fortified dessert wine made from Mission grapes planted in the Gypsy Canyon Dona Marcelina’s Vineyard, named after the first women winegrower in California, Dona Marcelina Felix Dominquez. Deborah crafts this unique wine using a recipe written in 1891 by Emile Vache that reflects the manner in which the Spanish padres produced Angelica for their own enjoyment. The Mission vines are extremely low yielding and a challenge to ripen, usually only allowing production of about one barrel each vintage. This is a highly unique, artisan wine that is offered in a historically correct, hand-blown 375 ml glass bottle with a seal on the neck, a handmade paper label printed on a manual letterpress and sealed with estate-harvested bees wax. It has no rival in California. Photo of Mission vine, planted in 1880, by Dominquez at Gypsy Canyon below.

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2013 Gypsy Canyon “The Collector” Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14% alc., 100 cases, $110. A blend of select top barrels from estate vineyard. · Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Upon opening, the nose was very shy and primary. Much better on the palate, with a mid weight plus blanket of delicious cherry fruit with a slight earthy bent. Plenty of sap to satisfy, framed by fine-grain tannins and balancing acidity. Considerably better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle when the nose developed exciting scents of cherry and spice and the fruit core came alive with plenty of Pinot singing. This wine is a crouching tiger that should be decanted if opened now or preferably allowed to develop over a few years in the cellar. Score: 92-94

2013 Gypsy Canyon “The Moment” Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14% alc., 120 cases, $95. · Light cherry red color in the glass. Demure aromas of Bing cherry and cake spice. Fresh and vivid cherry and strawberry fruits lavished with appealing spice, filled out with a hint of root beer and mocha in the background. Nicely balanced, with modest tannins and a generous finish. Even more expressive the following day when tasted from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 91

2012 Ground Boots Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $70. 100% of profits donated to nonprofits: “Funding global good, sip by sip.” Label features artwork by Donald Roller Wilson. By Gypsy Canyon. · Light crimson color in the glass. Better initially, with aromas of cherry, sandalwood, and white pepper, becoming less appealing over time in the glass with smoky oak surfacing. The middleweight core of cherry fruit is overlaid with lavish oak. The fruit is somewhat pleasant and framed by soft tannins making for easy drink ability, but a hint of alcoholic heat shows up on the modest finish. No special message. Score: 86

2013 Gypsy Canyon Old Vine Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Barbara County Chardonnay

14%, 100 cases, $70. · Light golden yellow color in the glass. Aromas of lemon oil, apple and warm brioche lead off with lovely flavors of lemon, peach and pear fanning out on a rich mid palate. Clean and crisp, with a polished mouthfeel, impeccable balance, and a finish that never wants to let go. A high class offering that is very seductive. Score: 94

NV Gypsy Canyon Marcelina’s Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Ancient Vine Angelica

18% alc., $150 (375 ml). A fortified wine made from ancient Mission grapes. · Golden orange color in the glass. The aromas of honeyed apple, marzipan, roasted almonds and woodshed draw you into the glass. Well-endowed with intense flavors of grilled peach, crème brûlée, and fig. Hinting of port in character, this virile and slightly viscous wine is neither sweet or cloying. Paired with aged gouda, this wine will bring you to your knees. Score: 95

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