Surfing and Winemaking on CA's Central Coast

Two passions came together as winemakers and dedicated surfers talked wines and waves.


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There's always been a romantic ideal attached with winemaking; the creation of a fine wine, the upscale image. Conversely, there's been a carefree ideal attached to surfing; hanging out at the beach without a care in the world. In reality, both activities require skill and concentration, and neither is easy.

These two passions came together as nine winemakers from Santa Barbara to Paso Robles, who also happen to be dedicated surfers, converged at the beach to talk wines and waves with Wine Enthusiast. "Both surfing and winemaking have given me a relationship with nature, to understand its cycles, seasonal changes, how the earth moves and breathes," said Steve Clifton of Palmina.

"The oceans have a profound effect on climate," says Etienne Terlinden, winemaker at Summerland Winery, who is in the U.S. Naval Reserves, "which ultimately regulates out macro, mezzo and micro climates around the vineyards."

Others were more prosaic. "The same joy I get from surfing at dawn is the same joy I get walking a vineyard or tasting through barrel samples," said Craig Jaffurs of Jaffurs Wine Cellars. "My best days at the winery always come from the best morning surf," he added.

Eric Ogorsolka, owner/winemaker at Zenaida Cellars noted, "I get a feeling of calm and clarity from surfing. This helps open a door into creativity in my winemaking." And as Craig Shannon of Per Bacco Cellars added, "paddling into the wave is like tasting a wine with all your senses keyed in." Here's to the creative process of boards and bottles.

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