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Unique Rusack Wines from Santa Catalina Island

William Wrigley, Jr., of Wrigley Co. chewing gum fame, bought Santa Catalina Island Co., owners of all the developable land on the island in 1919. Alison Wrigley Rusack, William’s great-granddaughter, along with her husband Geoffrey Rusack, owners of Rusack Vineyards and Winery in Solvang, California, established a vineyard on the island in 2007 at El Rancho Escondido, a working Arabian horse ranch used for Wrigley’s horses and founded in 1930. The initial planting included three acres of Pinot Noir, 2 acres of Chardonnay and one acre of Zinfandel (using cuttings from Santa Cruz Island in the Channel Island chain). No one had previously made wine from Santa Catalina Island, but it turned out that the cool climate and clay loam soils were ideal for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

The inaugural harvest was from the 2009 vintage. After picking, the grapes were airlifted to the Santa Ynez Airport for processing at the Rusack winery by winemaker Steven Gerbac.

Visit the winery tasting room in Ballard Canyon that is open daily. Tasting fee is $15. The setting is ideal for picnics. The winery website is

2015 Rusack Santa Catalina Island Vineyards California Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.40, TA 0.758, 136 cases, $72. Released November 2017. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 9% new. Bottled unfiltered. · Light ruby red color in the glass. Attractive aromas of dark cherry, woodland spice and cola. Charming mid weight cherry goodness in a feminine, lacy style. Juicy, with suave tannins and just a hint of sandalwood. Admirable harmony, with a very long and expansive finish. Score: 93

2015 Rusack Santa Catalina Island Vineyards California Chardonnay

13.8% alc., pH 3.32, TA 0.70, 136 cases, $60. Released November 2017. Barrel fermented 100% malolactic fermentation, lees stirring for 4 months. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 56% new. · Light golden yellow color in the glass. Enticing aromas and flavors of green apple, lemon-lime, grapefruit and spice. An acid-driven style with impeccable oak integration and an acid-fueled, quenching finish. This is a vibrant and flavorful wine that will thoroughly please Chardonnay aficionados. Score: 95

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