If you want a contrast to Martian Wines Stolpman would be it. Pioneers in the region who planted the second vineyard in Ballard Canyon, from which they source all their fruit, and first producing wine in 1994, Stolpman sort of created the rich, dense powerful style that the region was originally known for. Surprisingly there are some similarities between Stolpman and Martian Ranch; there is an effort here to farm organically, though not biodynamically, puncheons are replacing barriques lessening the influence of wood on the wines, and fermentations are almost all native yeast at this point, but the results could not be more different.

These are wines that remain rich and powerful, and that might be due in some part to the vineyard which is planted in clay/shale topsoil that rests above heavy sandstone and limestone that sits some three feet under the surface. Add in the fact that the older vines here are not irrigated and you can see how one might end up with some small berried, concentrated fruit, which in turn provides the concentration and power that Stolpman is known for.

Having said all that, the wines here at Stolpman are certainly impressive, with lots of power and richness and chewy, but they are also well balanced and supple. They are made in a style that has an avid audience, and for the most part they exhibit well judged use of wood and are well structured given their weight. These are not wines that will appeal to all palates, but that is in part the beauty of what’s going on in Santa Barbara. There is diversity, allowing myriad wines styles to flourish. I hope Stolpman doesn’t change too much, they have wines deeply rooted in the history of the region and show the potential of Ballard Canyon’s fruit in a distinct and attractive style.

2012 Stolpman Rose, 13%


second or third time doing it, 2012 was a high yielding vintage, 60 Grenache, 40% Sangiovese, three day carbonic then whole cluster,

Spicy on the nose with lime and herbs and a hint of camphor. This is fruity on the front end, then mineral, dry and really crisp with superb acids. It’s light bodied yet nicely firm with fine strawberry fruit with a stony, raspberry finish. A zesty, nervous rose. 88pts

2012 Stolpman Viognier 13.5%


No malo all SS

Same as rose big crop gave them fruit to work with,

Jasmine and mineral laced on the nose which picks up minty, spicy, peach tinged fruit. On entry this is a little soft, rich and broad in a ripe but still vibrant style. In the mouth it’s aromatic with a bit of a balsamic edge, and soft with faintly honied juicy, apricot notes on the back end which shows some nice green tea notes before finishing with a hint of sweetness. 87pts

2011 Stolpman Golden Point 14.1%

82% Roussanne, 7% Chardonnay, 7% Sauvignon Blanc, 4% Viognier

Roussanne 50% new, sauv in SS, other in neutral oak

Big aromatics on the nose, a bit smoky and nutty with jammy white raspberry, and exotic mango and guava notes. Bright on entry with almost salty minerality then the smoky oak creeps in along with deep nut framed orange marmalade and white cherry flavors. There’s fine length and power on the finish which shows a nice blend of herbs and toast with a hint of orange marmalade. 89pts

2010 Stolpman l'Avion 14.3%

Full malo 100% new oak, 100% Roussanne fermented in new wood

Sort of tropical on the nose with a bit of guava floating around here which is joined by smoky oak, polleny floral notes, with hints of tobacco and deep ripe pineapple base note. Weighty and deep on the palate, this retains fine acid balance, turning deep and nutty with ripe quince jelly flavors of the midpalate leading to a long spiced finish that shows fine minerality. Silky, smooth, and oily through the backend this ends with a moderately long finish cut with attractive minerality. Probably will improve in the bottle. 90pts

2011 Stolpman la Cuadrilla  14.5% $22

Profit shared with their vineyard crew,  named after the vineyard crew, the self named vineyard crew,

62% Syrah, 30% Sangiovese, 8% Grenache

Only neutral oak, no whole cluster, different label artwork each year

Dark and a bit tight, meaty, and tarry on the nose with some mintiness, black currant and a little spicy black fruit with a nice hint of wood spice adding some detail, and a hint of pepperiness. Bright and juicy upfront, this shows fine red fruits on the palate that are all about tart raspberry and strawberry fruit. there’s a fine astringent note to the tannins, and while this is big it’s  fairly light on its feet with a real mouth cleansing freshness and astringent red fruit on the backend.  A fun if rambunctious wine. 89pts

2009 Stolpman Sangiovese 14.5%

30 to 32 months in barrel, trying for a Brunello style

All neutral puncheons,

Dark and a bit tarry with lots of stewy herbal notes  and dried tart cherry fruit framed with hints of leather. Smooth and fairly deep in the mouth with fine grained tannins supporting a core of earthy, leather framed sweet cherry fruit that really pops on the backend and leads to a finish that is structured and long with a fine savory, leathery edge to the fruit.  A little chewy, but long and deep, this is youthful but already showing some nice development. 90pts

2011 Stolpman Estate Syrah 14.9%

5 to 10% new oak, 2% Roussanne, 2% Grenache, 1% Viognier

Intense on the  nose and full of stemmy roses, grilled meats, violets, old woodsy aromas, roasted nut meat, and cracked pepper. Fairly lean and fresh on entry with lovely acidity providing real fine cut to the dark berry, blueberry fruit that’s supported by soft tannins. There’s a deep savory edge to the fruit and while this is quite powerful it’s also fairly but elegant with a long pure finish that shows  real fine persistence to the fruit and lovely vibrancy. 91pts

2011 Stolpman Syrah Originals 14.5% $38


Oldest blocks on sandstone, all the American clones of syrah, co-fermented 2% to 3% viognier, brief time in barrel, about a year, maybe 5% to 10% whole cluster

Smoky, wiry, and gamy on the nose with precise cracked pepper and camphor notes adding complexity to the core of cherry toned fruit. Fairly powerful upfront then turning broad and a little loose on the palate with deep, dry stemmy tannins emerging to add a rudder. The acidity here is fine if not pronounced driving the meaty, earthy tobacco and almost black currant toned fruit flavors that show a bit of minty spice on the backend before returning to a tannin driven finish with nice mint and cocoa laced notes on the finish. This is pretty chewy. 92pts

2010 Stolpman Syrah Hilltops 14.9%


Dark earthy notes on the nose with a base of woodspice and toast supporting big dark fruit, blackberry and vanilla laced, jellied plum fruit. Big and powerful in the mouth, this is rich, chewy wine filled with vanilla and spice notes early on the palate with hazelnut and  nutella flavors joining deep boysenberry and blackberry fruit on the palate. There’s a peppery backbone here and the depth of flavor persists on the finish though the wood tannins seem to be winning that battle at the moment. There’s a lot of spicy oak on the finish and this shows a hint of heat as well. 90pts

2011 Stolpman Angeli Syrah 14.5%


Best four or five barrels of the year, less oaky than previous vintages

Tight and  finely focused nose with a mouth watering blend of wild berry fruit, smoke, used wood notes, chocolate and mineral. On entry this brings the power of the Stolpman wines to the table but in a much more elegant and refined way. With exceptional balance layers of  cut plums dry blueberries, and boysenberry fruit open on the palate supported by lovely tannins that are refined yet angular and dry,  Fairly transparent for such a powerful wine, this really shows a different style with a sense of refinement and finishes with great length and vibrancy. So young but super balance. 94pts