Zaca mesa's New Mesa Reserve Syrah is Best of Old World & new World Winemaking

Los Olivos, CA - November 29, 2016 - ( 

High on a mesa top in Santa Ynez Valley, various clones of Syrah ripen in the sun. They are planted on multiple varieties of rootstock, huddled close together in a high-density planting scheme. The microclimate here is unique – several degrees cooler than the neighboring town of Los Olivos.

It is here Zaca Mesa Winery has been experimenting with Syrah. With over 40 years of grape growing experience, Zaca Mesa began growing Rhône varieties in 1978 when they were the first to plant Syrah in Santa Barbara County. This early planting provided proof that their unique combination of topography, soils and distance from the ocean make it the perfect site to plant Syrah.

Since then, Zaca Mesa determined that varietals planted in the Rhône Valley of France are best suited to the estate and focused exclusively on varietals like Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, Roussanne and Viognier.

“In 2004, we planted our first true high-density vineyard,” says Director of Vineyard & Winery Operations Eric Mohseni. “This new vineyard was planted to new Syrah clones and rootstock combinations for Zaca Mesa. The resulting wines had a different tannin and flavor profile. This was the birth of the Mesa Reserve.”

When those grapes were harvested, Eric was so excited about the purity of fruit, broad tannins, and complex aromas of the wine made from that block, he believed it merited a higher-tier "reserve level" Syrah.  So he cherry-picked some of his favorite barrels from the 10 different sub-blocks to create this wine.

The 2012 Mesa Reserve Syrah comes from a year of near-perfect weather conditions in Santa Ynez Valley and represents the best of the winery’s mesa-top vineyard. “These younger blocks offer a great contrast to older Syrah vines on the property,” says Winemaker Kristin Bryden. “These new clones planted and grown with modern viticultural practices give the Mesa Reserve a brightness of fruit and complex richness that is unique when compared to our older blocks.”

“Our wines are made from sustainably-farmed grapes that are estate grown, produced and bottled in an old world style. But the Mesa Reserve is more of a 21st Century wine,” says Brand Ambassador Dane Campbell. “It’s the culmination of our 38 years of experimentation with Syrah, leading to a match of the correct clones and rootstocks to our specific vineyard site.”

The 2012 Mesa Reserve Syrah has continued the tradition of great accolades from Zaca Mesa Winery. Wine Enthusiast Magazine gushed over its red and purple fruits noting the wine’s complex lilac, violets, crushed rock and savory notes, giving the vintage a 91-point score in their October 2016 issue.

It’s available November 15 to purchase via wine club and through select restaurant and retail locations.

About Zaca Mesa

Zaca Mesa Winery, located in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County, California, is dedicated to estate grown and bottled Rhône varietal wines. They craft wines with integrity using traditional methods from grapes sustainably grown in their Santa Barbara County vineyard. Since 1973, they have farmed and nurtured their vineyard to produce wines that are true to the unique spirit of their land. Still family-owned, Zaca Mesa brings old-world Syrah heritage to the Santa Ynez Valley. For more information about Zaca Mesa Winery call (805) 688-9339, or visit 

Contact:  Dane Campbell     |     (805) 688-9339    |

New Super Rhône Wine

One of oldest Santa Barbara wineries creates Super Rhône with 2014 Toyon Syrah-Cabernet red wine blend

LOS OLIVOS, CA, OCTOBER 19, 2016 ( - Zaca Mesa Winery was the third winery established in Santa Barbara County, as well as the first in the county to plant Syrah in 1978. Since then, Zaca Mesa has continued to produce distinctive Rhône wines that consistently receive high scores and praise industry wide. Since 1997, Zaca Mesa has focused solely on growing world-class examples of Syrah and other Rhône varieties through meticulous farming and traditional winemaking techniques.

Now, Zaca Mesa introduces a new bistro-style wine that’s reminiscent of classic blends in Provence, France or Tuscany, Italy. Blending traditional Rhône varietals with a structural favorite like Cabernet Sauvignon creates a “Super Rhône” wine that pairs easily with food and is utterly delicious.

“This kind of elegant table wine rarely makes it out of France,” says Winemaker Kristin Bryden. “It’s what locals in the region drink with meals every day.”

Just as the Super Tuscan wines have garnered praise for their complexity and drinkability, this “Super Rhône” is perfect for large meals and is ready to drink. Kristen says “We wanted to make our own silky, fruit-driven blend that could be enjoyed by folks immediately, with all kinds of foods.”

The wine’s red and black fruit flavors, complex structure and silky tannins come from Zaca Mesa Vineyard Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache and Cinsault, less than 30 miles from the Pacific Ocean (California’s Rhône Zone) and Cabernet Sauvignon from Happy Canyon AVA, where warmer weather is ideal for Bordeaux grapes.

The name Toyon is derived from a native shrub found growing in the sandy hills and terraces that make up the estate vineyard, and has been a historic term for blends at the winery. Today the wine is made from a combination of grape varietals grown on and off the estate for optimum balance.

The 2014 Toyon blend’s fruit-driven aromas and flavors deliver a beautiful array of red and black fruits—characteristic of both Rhône and Bordeaux grapes—along with soft, plush tannins. It’s available November 12 to purchase via wine club from the winery. 

About Zaca Mesa

Zaca Mesa Winery, located in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County, California, is dedicated to estate grown and bottled Rhône varietal wines. They craft wines with integrity using traditional methods from grapes sustainably grown in their Santa Barbara County vineyard. Since 1973, they have farmed and nurtured their vineyard to produce wines that are true to the unique spirit of their land. Still family-owned, Zaca Mesa brings old-world Syrah heritage to the Santa Ynez Valley. For more information about Zaca Mesa Winery call (805) 688-9339, or visit

Cheers to 30 years of Syrah


An original winery in the Santa Ynez Valley releases Syrah-blend red wine with very limited production

LOS OLIVOS, CA (SEPTEMBER 1, 2016) – Zaca Mesa Winery was founded in 1972, its first estate grapes planted in 1973, making Zaca Mesa the third winery in Santa Barbara County. In 1978, Zaca Mesa became the first in the county to plant Syrah, which is today the oldest Syrah block on the Central Coast.

Since then, Zaca Mesa has grown to be one of the most revered wineries for Rhône varietals in the U.S. as well as a training ground for several esteemed Santa Barbara winemakers. A pioneer of the Syrah grape, Zaca Mesa made their inaugural vintage of those legendary vines in 1983. And since 1997 – after much experimentation with this Rhône grape and the winery’s unique terroir – the vineyard and winemaking practices have focused solely on growing the best Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Grenache Blanc, Viognier and other Rhône varieties.

Now, Zaca Mesa celebrates its 30th Syrah vintage! To stay true to the original 1983 Syrah bottling, this 2013 Syrah blend has 15% Cabernet Sauvignon included. This commemorative release captures the intensity and richness of both the Syrah and Cabernet grapes together: ripe blackberry, red current, and black olive combined with scorched earth to create a unique array of aromas, flavors and textures.

Director of Vineyard & Winery Operations Eric Mohseni believes this spot in the Santa Ynez Valley has the ideal climate for Rhône grapes. Mohseni says, “We have a magical combination of heat from the north and cool air from the south, amazing old vines, and great dirt. It’s similar to that of France’s Northern Rhône, where the wines are just beautiful.”

Here in California’s Rhône Zone, Zaca Mesa’s collector wines have opulence, elegance and refinement with balance and structure. Eric says, “There’s so much going on in our wines: dried herbs, pomegranate, blueberry and black pepper. It’s a very different experience than other mainstream varietals. Our blended wines deliver layers of taste and personality.”

The 2013 30th Anniversary Syrah is a very limited, one-time production with less than 500 magnums and is now available to purchase via wine club from the winery. Each bottle comes in an elegant gift box.

From the first 1983 bottling of Syrah, Zaca Mesa continues to produce distinctive Syrahs that consistently receive high scores and praise industry wide. Still family-owned and deeply rooted in Central Coast winemaking tradition, Zaca Mesa brings old-world Syrah heritage to the Santa Ynez Valley.

Meet Paul Pease

Meet Team Zaca: Q & A with General Manager, Paul Pease

Paul joined the Zaca team as a consultant in 2012 and became the General Manager Jan 1, 2013. He is a man of many talents and we are fortunate to have him as our “fearless leader.” (In Picture: Paul Pease, General Manager, & Carol Pease, wife)

What brought you to Zaca Mesa?

I was running a consulting business that developed sales organizations and wanted to get involved in a project with a winery. Carol, my wife, and I belonged to about 10 wine clubs at the time and I felt wineries could do a better job reaching their customers. I mentioned this to a neighbor of mine who happened to be Stewart Cushman- not knowing his dad, John, owned Zaca Mesa. One thing then led to another.

Before working at Zaca Mesa, what was the most unusual or interesting job you had?

I wrote five books, and two were co-author projects. One was Winners are Driven with three-time Indy 500 winner Bobby Unser.

What is on your wish list for Zaca Mesa?

I’d like to see us do more with the farm- we have a great farm with great people working it. I’d like to see us take more advantage of it. Also, our wine team is producing some incredible new wines and I want to see that continue.

What have you always wanted to try, but haven’t…yet?

Shagging fly balls at Wrigley Field. When I was a kid growing up in Chicago, I loved to play outfield. Wrigley Field is my “field of dreams.”

A memorable bottle of wine-what was it, where did you drink it, and who were you with?

There have been several memorable bottles of wine. I remember the first Tavel I had back in 1978 in a Chicago restaurant called Gejas. Another was a Georges Vernay Côte-Rôtie we enjoyed on our recent trip. The most recent OMG wine I’ve tasted is the new limited production Zaca Mesa Amphora. Carol and I enjoyed that with our neighbors, Mike and Pam Young.


The No-Nino

It was hard to ignore the hype machine leading up to the winter of 2015/16. I know we bought into it big time, but as we found out, no two El Nino’s are alike and our rain hopes were in vein. The central coast seemed to be the dividing line between the rain haves and the have nots, with vineyards up in Monterey experiencing much healthier rainfall totals than either San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties.  Our historic yearly rainfall average at Zaca Mesa is around 16 inches and as of April 1st we are sitting at 14 total. So, while we still have time to bump that total up a little further, it was far from the aquifer filling deluge that we were anticipating and hoping for.
How does this influence the 2016 harvest?
Having “average-ish” rainfall is not something we complain about in California anymore, and while it wasn’t a drought buster year, the rain we have received will greatly help to leach through some of the salts that had accumulated in our soils over the past 4-5 years of historic drought. That in itself is very positive and should lead to healthier vines and more normal grape chemistries at harvest time.
The vine are awake!
The sub-plot to the drought over the last few vintages was the persistence and intense heat we experienced. A build-up of warm water in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean nicknamed “The Blob” made sure our typical foggy coastal conditions were minimized, leading to some of the earliest bud-breaks and earliest harvests on record. Unfortunately, we are still feeling the lingering effects of The Blob - As a local surfer I can attest to warmer than average water temps. While January was cool and close to our average (60 degrees F), February saw the Deja-Vu return of the winter warmth. Zaca Mesa Vineyard averaged over 73 degrees for our daytime high, sending signals to the vines to wake up a few weeks early. Viognier was the first to show in mid-February, quickly followed by Syrah, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Grenache in March and just recently Mourvedre. While not as early as last year, it is eerily similar and we already seen a touch of frost damage in our Grenache Blanc.
At this point all we can hope for is that Mother Nature will be kind and bless us with a bit more rainfall in April and then shut things down for a quiet fruit-set in May and early-June. 

Dane Campbell
Zaca Mesa Brand Ambassador and Certified Sommelier