Nestled up against the majestic San Rafael Mountains, Foxen Canyon Road snakes its way through a wild, untouched region. The native Chumash revered this site, naming it “Zaca,” meaning “restful place.” After surveying the land in 1972, this beautiful open space appeared destined for greatness and was planted with grapevines in 1973. Now having produced over 40 vintages, Zaca Mesa Vineyard is celebrated for producing unforgettable Rhône-style wines with elegant and distinctive personalities.
Our beloved Mesa block is primarily planted to our flagship grape, Syrah. Located on a flat, tabletop-like plot of land at approximately 1,400 feet in elevation, our grapevines sit high above the morning fog layer that blankets the valley floor during the summer months, resulting in wines of rich character and great natural acidity.
The Mesa block is home to our acclaimed Black Bear Block vineyard that boasts Santa Barbara County’s oldest Syrah vines, planted in 1973.
The Black Bear Block contains the first Syrah vines ever planted in Santa Barbara County. These historic, own-rooted vines are now over 45 years old and produce grapes for our “Black Bear Block” limited-production Syrah. The Estrella clone planted in 1973 has been growing on our property so long that it has adapted to the unique terroir of our vineyard. It is currently undergoing the 4-year process of becoming a designated Heritage Clone by the UC Davis Foundation Plant Services Program.
The block’s nickname, “Black Bear”, was named after Vineyard Manager, Ruben Camacho’s, experience in 1978. While in the Mesa H block of the vineyard, he noticed a black bear eating the soon to be famous Syrah grapes. His dogs, Bingo and Chispa, bravely protected the grapes and chased the black bear up a tree. That section of the vineyard was renamed the Black Bear Block and has been producing amazing grapes ever since.
Our Cushman block is named after our owners, the Cushman family, and was one of the first blocks originally planted on our property. Here you’ll find our old vine Viognier, planted in 1973. The gentle sloping sides of the vineyard are composed of Chamise Shaly Loam soils and are planted to Grenache vines.
The Mariposa block is located on the first Mesa top come upon when driving through our vineyard gate. The original rootstocks of this block were grafted to our current varietals in the in early 1990s and are still producing to this day. These vines include our old vine Grenache, used to produce our estate’s outstanding single varietal Grenache wines, and our old vine Cinsault.
Our Chapel block is one of our winemaker’s favorite blocks on the estate. It is planted to the red grapes Syrah and Mourvèdre, with the oldest Mourvèdre vines planted back in 1999. The Syrah grown on this mesa top is so impressive we decided to make its own bottling, the Chapel G Syrah.
Situated right alongside Foxen Canyon Road, our Foxen block contains our Roussanne vines that are planted at the apex of our vineyard, over 1,500 feet in elevation. Foxen was also selected to become home to Mourvèdre vines based on its unique soil characteristics. These grapes are used in some of our most popular blends, including Z Cuvée, Z Three, and Inceptive.
Sometimes referred to as the “Windmill Block”, our Zaca block sits right in front of our winery barn and tasting room. The plot was planted to Grenache Blanc vines in 2005 and is honored to be the site of many happy memories as it is the vineyard surrounding our beautiful outdoor event spaces. There is hardly a more serene setting than the sun dipping behind the San Rafael Mountains, Grenache Blanc vines rustling in the breeze and the vineyard lawn oak tree glowing with soft lantern lights on a perfect summer evening.
At Zaca Mesa, we have embraced the Code of Sustainable Winegrowing to ensure the health and sustainability of our vineyard, our employees, our neighbors, and our environment. To foster a healthier environment, we use organic products, conserve energy and water, and efficiently use materials to reduce waste. We only farm one-third of our total acreage, leaving open space for wildlife and to preserve natural groundwater. Our goal is to achieve balance in our vineyard by learning to work with nature and viewing our estate as one living, breathing system.