Dierberg Estate Vineyard, Star Lane Celebrate 'Happy' News

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Push for American Viticultural Area status bears fruit for Happy Canyon in Santa Ynez Valley

Star Lane Vineyard in Happy Canyon

It was a long process but well worth the wait.

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Happy Canyon, home to Star Lane Vineyard, has been officially designated an American Viticultural Area (AVA) by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).

"This is happy news for Happy Canyon and all the wineries in this unique and distinctive growing area," said Jim Dierberg, Chairman of the Board of First Banks, Inc., and owner of Dierberg Estate Vineyard and Star Lane Vineyard. "Because of the success and reputation of wines from Happy Canyon, we were confident this area would achieve appellation status."

Starting on Nov. 9, winemakers whose grapes are grown in the Happy Canyon area of the eastern Santa Ynez Valley will be able to list the region as a formal AVA on their wine labels. The new AVA includes 23,941 acres and joins Santa Barbara County's other AVAs: Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley and Sta. Rita Hills.

Currently, the United States is home to approximately 170 regions designated as AVAs, which are overseen by the TTB (a division of the US Treasury Department). Only wines that receive 85 percent of their content from AVA vineyards can proclaim an AVA designation on its label. The label also must display the wine region from where the wine was derived.

In order for a wine region to receive AVA designation, it must endure extensive soil tests and research. Applications and petitions must also be completed.

"Our local wine industry and all the winemakers involved deserve a lot of credit for their hard work in securing the AVA for Happy Valley," said Dierberg. "It was a long process but well worth the wait."

Star Lane Vineyard, located at the far eastern end of the Santa Ynez Valley in the new Happy Canyon appellation, is both the warmest and the highest elevation vineyard in the appellation. The 4,000 acre property is planted to 237 acres of grapevines on Rangers Peak.

Nick de Luca is the winemaker. Rudy Bravo is the vineyard manager. In addition to Dierbergs Estate Vineyard and Star Lane, Dierberg, and his wife, Mary, make wine under the Three Saints label, and Hermannhof Winery in Hermann, Missouri. Paul LeRoy is winemaker and general manager at Hermannhof.

Bringing a taste of Star Lane to the Midwest

In October 2009, the new California Dierberg - Star Lane - Three Saints Tasting Room opened adjacent to the Hermannhof Winery at 338 E. First Street, where wine enthusiasts can now taste Star Lane Vineyard "Happy Canyon" Appellation Wine.

Dierberg and Star Lane Vineyard Wines Continue To Garner Recognition

2008 Wine Spectator Top 100 - #49 Dierberg Pinot Noir 2005
2008 Wine & Spirits Top 100 - Star Lane Syrah 2004
2008 Food & Wine: Best New California Cabernet - Star Lane Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
2008 San Francisco Chronicle Top 100 - Star Lane Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
2008 San Francisco Chronicle Top 100 - Three Saints Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
2009 Connoisseurs' Guide Dierberg Chardonnay 2006 92 points
2009 Wine Enthusiast Dierberg Chardonnay 2006 92 points
2009 Connoisseurs' Guide Dierberg Pinot Noir 2006 91 points
2009 Connoisseurs' Guide Star Lane Merlot 2006 91 points
2009 Wine Enthusiast Star Lane Merlot 2006 91 points
2009 Connoisseurs' Guide Star Lane Sauvignon Blanc 2007 90 points

For more information, visit http://www.dierbergvineyard.com.

Greg Severin

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