The King of Santa Barbara Sauvignon Blanc

After the film “Sideways,” it’s easy to associate Santa Barbara with Pinot Noir. And early-ripening Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are suited to this area because of the odd way that the valleys run from west to east, wafting the fog many miles from the coast toward inland vineyards. But the Brander Winery never hitched its wagon to Pinot Noir. Rather, Fred Brander has become the undisputed king of Santa Barbara Sauvignon Blanc. Born in Argentina but raised in Santa Barbara, Fred Brander began in the mid-70s by planting some red Bordeaux varieties as well as Sauvignon Blanc. But when his first vintage of Sauvignon Blanc won the gold medal at the Los Angeles County Fair, the first wine from Santa Barbara ever to win that honor, he realized his property in Los Olivos in the Santa Ynez Valley had great potential for the great white grape of Bordeaux and the Loire. Not only was the Eastern side of the valley significantly warmer than other areas, the soil in many spots was distinctively gravelly, in the manner of Graves, the famous white wine district of Bordeaux. Hence, Brander has focused squarely on cultivating Sauvignon Blanc grapes and making wines that accentuate the minerals and are as crisp, clean and balanced as the best French Sav. Blancs.  Today Brander makes six separate bottlings each year, which range from his best-value Santa Ynez (a perennial restaurant by-the-glass favorite) all the way up to his tete de cuvee "au Naturel," a wine inspired by his close working relationship with Loire master Didier Dagueneau. Of his recent efforts, Fred has said, "We are looking for more refined wines, and we are doing much less oak than in the past." Low-yielding vines, minimal handling, low or no oak, and a focus on the purity of the fruit is what Brander is now all about. 

Wine Maker

Fred Brander





Photo Gallery

Wines from this Winery

BRANDER Sauvignon Blanc Los Olivos District

Los Olivos is a small but lovely town to visit for wine tasting or just a pleasant day in the country. And Brander’s Sauvignon Blanc expresses all the charm and relaxed ambiance of the region in a glass of wine. Bright aromatics, lively fruit and gravelly minerality make this wine versatile and enchanting. While the Santa Ynez Valley is a cool region, the Los Olivos District AVA is in a warmer zone, making it more suitable for Bordeaux varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc. The wine is sourced from the estate as well as neighboring vineyards. For additional spice and depth, small amounts of Pinot Grigio, Semillon, and Riesling were added to the blend. The wine is refreshing and exuberantly fruity but bone dry and ready to pair with salads, goat cheeses, and delicate fish.

Details »
¥3,520 (incl. tax)
BRANDER Sauvignon Blanc

Au Naturel is Brander’s reserve Sauvignon Blanc, produced entirely from the estate. As the winery puts it, “Our favorite lot from the vintage is selected based on aromatics, concentration, and acidity. Stainless steel fermentation and eight months of sur-lie aging results in a richer mouthfeel, compelling minerality, luscious flavors, and the age-ability for which this wine is renowned.” Au Naturel is a crisp and refreshing wine, a great match for sashimi, shellfish, fresh tomatoes (or light tomato sauces), and goat cheeses. 

Details »
¥6,820 (incl. tax)