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Gypsy Canyon

Owner(s) Deborah Hall
Web site www.gypsycanyon.com
 
Link to this site
Gypsy Canyon

Over a 100 years ago, the first known woman wine grower in California, Dona Marcelina Felix Dominguez, grew Mission vines on her Santa Barbara County property. The vines survived, and when Deborah Hall, a former nurse, and her late physician husband, William, bought the property in 1994, they discovered these vines under a heavy cover of brush. They originally thought the vines were Zinfandel, and sold them as such to other vintners. DNA testing at University of California Davis later revealed that they were Mission vines. Mission vines were brought into California in 1767 by Spanish Padres from Mexico who established a chain of missions from San Diego to Sonoma from 1767 to 1833. Deborah’s ancient Mission vineyard of three acres is part of only ten acres still growing in California. She has named the ancient Mission vineyard Dona Marcelina’s Vineyard and today, it is the oldest producing vineyard in Santa Barbara County. Using a recipe written in 1891 by Emile Vache, Deborah crafts a Gypsy Canyon Ancient Vine Angelica, a rich, fortified dessert wine from the Mission grapes.

The original Gypsy Canyon property was 290 acres and included an 1800s farmhouse. After Deborah’s husband passed away in 1997, she sold 160 acres (with 18 acres of vineyards) and kept 130 acres with 12 acres of vineyards to herself. Her original intent when she bought the property was to produce Pinot Noir. There are 4 acres of clone 115 and 777 Pinot Noir and some Pinot Gris planted on the Gypsy Canyon Santa Rita Creek Vineyard. The initial winemaker was Norm Yost (Flying Goat) who crafted the wines in the Lompoc “ghetto, but Deborah has taken over the winemaking duties. The site has an exceptionally cool microclimate compared to other vineyard sites in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. Farming is largely by hand and is both organic and biodynamic.

The first release of Pinot Noir was in 2004. The Gypsy Canyon package gives a nod to California history and is quite striking. Deborah uses a hand blown glass bottle of historically correct shape with an embossed glass seal, a handmade paper label, and a beeswax seal. Each bottle is numbered and signed by Deborah Hall. All of this historical aesthetic adds to the appeal of the wine inside.

The Pinot Noir is quite good and remarkable for its elegance and layered complexity. The wines are sold through a mailing list. Tasting by appointment. The wines are costly, but no expense is sparred in producing these unique artisan wines.

Reviewed Wines

NV Ancient Vine Angelica Dona Marcelina’s Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Mission Dessert Wine

17% alc., 9% residual sugar, 25 cases, $130 (375 ml). Raised two years in neutral barrels. · Save this wine for a special cool evening by the fireplace. Flavors of root beer, roasted nuts and caramel toffee seem to last an eternity on the finish. Drinks more like a dry wine than a dessert wine with refreshing acidity. Pair with 5-year-old Gouda cheese for an orgasmic experience. This is surely one of the most exotic and rare beverages I have ever drank. Very good (++++). Reviewed December 14, 2010 ARTICLE »

NV Angelica Sta. Rita Hills Mission Dessert Wine

17% alc., 9% residual sugar, 50 cases, $130 (375 ml). 7th bottling of this wine. A blend of one barrel each from the 2005 and 2006 vintages. 130-year-old vines. Raised two years in neutral barrels during which time the color changes from a rose to an amber shade. · A highly unique and immensely pleasing sipping wine offering flavors of root beer, caramel and nuts. Very smooth on the palate and leaving more of a dry than sweet impression on the finish. A perfect accompaniment to five-year aged gouda cheese. This is one of the most distinctive and limited meritorious wines produced in California today. Very good (+). Reviewed March 11, 2010 ARTICLE »

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. Reviewed July 12, 2015 ARTICLE »

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. Reviewed July 12, 2015 ARTICLE »

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. Reviewed July 12, 2015 ARTICLE »

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. Reviewed July 12, 2015 ARTICLE »

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. Reviewed July 12, 2015 ARTICLE »

2012 Gypsy Canyon Trois Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., $95. Presented in a bottle made from 100% recyclable materials. At just 16 ounces, the bottle reduces the raw materials used in production by sixteen percent, leaving a small carbon footprint. Hand made paper label printed on a manual letterpress and sealed with estate-harvested bees wax. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. A vibrant nose that increases in volume over time in the glass. Aromas of cherry, baking spice and sandalwood. The mid weight cherry core is accented with complimentary oak and herbs. The wine is soft in the mouth, elegant, and nicely balanced, with a generous cherry-driven finish that won’t let up. Forward and easy to drink now, but even better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 92. Reviewed July 19, 2014 ARTICLE »

2012 Gypsy Canyon The Collector’s Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., $110. From the estate Santa Rita Creek Vineyard presented in a hand blown bottle with a hand made paper label printed on a manual letterpress. The cork is sealed with estate-harvested bees wax. · Medium reddish purple color in the glass. The aromas are penetrating and persistent and feature cherry, dark red berry and baking spices. A well-sustained mid palate of black cherry fruit discreetly concentrated and finishing with grandiose intensity. Not quite as big or dark as the 2011 estate bottling, but riper fruit and a more multifaceted finish. There is plenty of natural acidity to balance the fruit. Score: 92. Reviewed July 19, 2014 ARTICLE »

2011 Gypsy Canyon Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $110, heavy custom bottle. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is reserved, offering demure aromas of spiced plum, black raspberry and cardamom spice. Rich and luscious on the palate with a full-bodied charge of purple and black fruits backed by firm tannins. A fruit-driven wine of considerable intensity, with a velvety mouthfeel, a touch of oak, and good underlying acidity. The finish is satisfying but not unusually long. The palate is more developed than the nose in this wine. Score: 90. Reviewed July 19, 2014 ARTICLE »

2009 Gypsy Canyon Trois Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14% alc., $90. A blend of estate vineyard and a famous unnamed Sta. Rita Hills vineyard. · Lovely delicacy with hi-tone dark red fruit, sandalwood and spice box flavors with a hint of sinew. Minerally cherry on the nose carries over to the long, scented finish. Very good. Reviewed March 12, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Gypsy Canyon Trois Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

13% alc., $90. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Hi-tone aromas of fresh, ripe black raspberries, blackberries, spice and a subtle green note. Delicious essence of dark berries, with complimentary notes of spice, dark chocolate and cola. Well-balanced with fine-grain tannins and bright acidity. Elegant and refined, with a very dry, fruit-driven finish with admirable intensity. Very good. Reviewed October 2, 2012 ARTICLE »

2008 Gypsy Canyon Trois Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

Fruity nose showing off fresh raspberries and blackberries with a touch of spice box. Ripely flavored fruit with accents of Asian spice and anise. Silky, with soft tannins and a dry finish. Good. Reviewed April 8, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Gypsy Canyon Trois Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

150 cases, $95, some magnums. I tasted barrel samples from a neutral oak barrel, a two-year-old oak barrel, and a new barrel. The two-year-old barrel really stood out. · Very aromatic with lifting notes of cherries, berries and spice, leading to a discreetly concentrated core of black cherry fruit offering impressive finesse and drinkability. Impressive potential. Reviewed March 11, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Gypsy Canyon Trois Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 75 cases, $95. Bottled in a newer more substantial glass than previous vintages. · Moderately deep reddish-purple color in the glass. Very lovely perfume of black cherries spiced with coriander, savory and sweet smoke. Superlatives don’t do this wine justice. Luscious melange of dark berries and plums with a subtle underpinning of oak and tobacco. A welcoming silky texture and a bombastic peacock finish adds to the pleasure. Quite different from previous Gypsy Canyon bottlings with more backbone and fruit intensity but still showing plenty of feminine charm. Great winemaking at work here. Man, what a wine. Reviewed December 14, 2010 ARTICLE »

2006 Gypsy Canyon Lot 2 Santa Rita Creek Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $75. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Aromas of roasted stone fruits, smoke and pork belly. Ripe flavors of currants, marzipan and root beer. Silky textured with welcoming finesse and a dry, aromatic finish. Good. Reviewed March 11, 2010 ARTICLE »

2006 Gypsy Canyon Santa Rita Creek Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $75. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Initially the nose offers delicate red fruits, savory herbs, oak and hay progressing over time to notes of dried fruits, green tea and dark chocolate. Ripe fruit flavors with accents of chocolate, green tea and finishing dry with a hint of citrus peel. Mediumweighted with admirable elegance and balance. Good. Reviewed March 11, 2010 ARTICLE »

2006 Gypsy Canyon Winery Santa Rita Creek Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Barrel Sample

$75. · A shy nose leads to a nicely crafted and elegant Pinot Noir. The dusty red cherry fruit is enrobed in tasty baking spices. The wine delivers plenty of flavor but is light on its feet. An engaging Pinot Noir the has admirable finesse, refined acidity and powdery tannins. This one will only get more expressive with time in the bottle. Reviewed July 23, 2007 ARTICLE »

2005 Gypsy Canyon Winery Lot 2 Santa Rita Creek Vineyard Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., < 18 cases, $75. Aged 15 months in 50% new French oak. Hand bottled in January, 2007. · This is a very elegant, smooth and polished Pinot Noir. The color is more mahogany than violet. The nose is a bit rustic with brown sugar-coated cherries and a hint of port. The cherry fruit is complemented by gregarious spice, cinnamon and a lively finish which displays gossamer tannins. Very appealing. Delicious the next day from an uncorked bottle. Reviewed May 7, 2007 ARTICLE »

2004 Gypsy Canyon Angelica Sta. Rita Hills Mission Grape Dessert Wine

375 ml., $120. · This wine just blew me away. I had never had anything like it and I was at lost for words. The nutty flavors were fresh and clean. There were hints of brown butter, root beer, and toffee. The wine was not cloying like many sweet wines. The finish seemed to last for a minute. There was plenty of lively and refreshing acidity. Paired with 5-year-aged Gouda cheese, this wine offered a celestial experience. Reviewed July 23, 2007 ARTICLE »