Cocktail Corner: Notes on Nebbiolo

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

I don’t know about the rest of you, but the cooler, sweater weather we’ve been having this week puts me in the mood for red wine.

Nebbiolo grapes, which I’ve been told get their name from the Italian word nebbia, meaning fog, are harvested about this time of year, primarily in the Piedmont region, to produce lovely light-colored Italian red wines like the 2008 Damilano Barolo Cannubi I was recently gifted with (and am told it’s available at Carpinteria Wine Co. , 4193 Carpinteria Ave., Carpinteria, 805/684-7440, It was delicious with chicken fajitas and fresh guacamole inspired by last week’s Avocado Festival, but it would likely be even better with a heavier, braised meat dish.

Probably the best-known local Nebbiolos are from Palima Wines, where Steve and Chrystal Clifton bring Italy to life in little ol’ Lompoc’s Wine Ghetto (1520 E. Chestnut Ct., Lompoc, 805/684-7440, By growing Italian varietals in Santa Barbara County, the winemakers are not trying to emulate Italian wines, “but rather translate the history of those grapes to the growing conditions and vineyard sites of the very unique characteristics of Santa Barbara County.” They’re lush, earthy, lovely reds, and are found on many local wine lists and in shops (although they tend to sell out quickly).

Bernat Estates Wines (made by the owners of Los Olivos Wine Merchant, where the wine is available at 2879 Grand Ave. in Los Olivos, 805/ 688-7265, has a certified organic Estate Nebbiolo, produced in Los Olivos, which has a brilliant color and a cranberry, orange and spicy aroma that definitely conjures up images of fall.

If you can find a bottle (Stolpman Vineyard stopped growing these particular grapes), Santa Barbara Winery’s 2007 Nebbiolo was the sixth and last year it was produced—order it online while you still can ( Arthur Earl also has a notable 2007 Nebbiolo from Stolpman Vineyard grapes,  available at its Los Olivos tasting room (2922 Grand Ave., 805/693-1771,


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Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on October 11, 2013.

Leslie Dinaberg

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”