Somm 3 is the latest installment in the documentary series that explores the wild world of sommeliers. It focuses on wine industry veterans like Fred Dame, Jancis Robinson and Steven Spurrier, as well as the next generation of primarily New York-based influencers that include Aldo Sohm, Laura Fiorvanti (nee Maniec), Pascaline Lepeltier and Sabato Sagaria.\r\n\r\nAmidst the biographical segments and arguments over the merits of blind tasting, the film\u2019s narrative tension concerns tastings inspired by the 1976 Judgment of Paris. That famous blind tasting, in which California wines outshined their French counterparts, set the stage for the modern wine universe. This time, however, Pinot Noir is the wine in question, rather than Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThe two separate tastings of six Pinots from acclaimed producers from around the world includes the 2014 Bloom\u2019s Field bottling by Domaine de la C\u00f4te. Some of the judges consider it on par with, if not more \u201cBurgundian,\u201d than two celebrated wines from Burgundy.\r\n\r\nDomaine de la C\u00f4te is owned by superstar sommelier-turned-winemaker Rajat Parr, who sources grapes from his estate in the Sta. Rita Hills of Santa Barbara County. When not in the vineyards, he\u2019s been writing his second book, The Sommelier\u2019s Atlas of Taste: A Field Guide to the Great Wines of Europe (Ten Speed Press, 2018), with co-author Jordan Mackay.\r\n\r\nParr sat down with Wine Enthusiast to discuss how he got into winemaking and why he chose Santa Barbara County.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nTell me about your background.\r\n\r\nI\u2019m from Kolkata . My family had a restaurant in India, and I was interested in being a chef. In 1994, I moved to New York to attend the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. I had tasted wine before in England with my uncle, but then I had some wines in college, and was like, \u201cThis is amazing.\u201d I started studying and tasting, and then did really well in the required wine class. I decided that I wanted to learn more about wine.\r\n\r\nThis was 1996 and, in those days, the only way to learn was to work in a restaurant with a wine program. So, I moved to San Francisco to work at Rubicon with Larry Stone and was there for three years.\r\n\r\nAt another restaurant, Fifth Floor, I met Michael Mina. I still work with him in some ways, assisting in some projects, and overseeing their wine list at their flagship restaurant in San Francisco.\r\n\r\nWhat happened to the cooking?\r\n\r\nThat was the end of my cooking career. I didn\u2019t even really take classes. I did little gigs here and there, but I was in no serious cooking positions. Cooking is still a hobby and love of mine.\r\n\r\nWhen did winemaking start?\r\n\r\nIn 2004, I decided to learn more about viticulture and winemaking. My first wine was a Sanford & Benedict Chardonnay with Jim Clendenen [of Au Bon Climat] and Purisima Mountain Syrah with Steve Beckmen.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nI met Sashi [Moorman] around that year when he was a winemaker for Evening Land Vineyards\u2019 California labels. I began to make wine with him three years later, and also [started to consult] for Evening Land. That\u2019s how we got together on the vineyard [that would become Domaine de la C\u00f4te] and start the planting process.\r\n\r\nAt that time, Evening Land owned the vineyard at Domaine de la C\u00f4te. After a few changes in the ownership, the guy who owned the winery said, \u2018Why don\u2019t Sashi and you take it over?\u2019 He knew how much we loved that vineyard.\r\n\r\nSashi and I went all-in to create Domaine de la C\u00f4te in the same vineyard we had helped in planting. We took it over in 2011, and we started making some changes. Since the vineyard had been planted in 2007, this year was the 10th harvest.\r\n\r\nYou were a world-famous sommelier at that point and could have picked anywhere to make wine. Why Santa Barbara?\r\n\r\nAfter tasting old Au Bon Climat wines, I was like, \u201cOh, wow.\u201d The vineyard that attracted me was Sanford & Benedict. I\u2019ve been making wine with fruit from that vineyard since 2004.\r\n\r\nI\u2019ve also bought grapes from Sonoma and Anderson Valley, but nothing really clicked. I kept thinking, \u201cI love acidity, I love whole cluster, and this is now what I want.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe first red wine I made from the Sta. Rita Hills was in 2007, a Pinot Noir from Presidio Vineyard, which is now called Duvarita. For the 2007 and 2008 vintages, I made Pinot Noir from Presidio, Chardonnay from Sanford & Benedict and Purisima Mountain Syrah.\r\n\r\nI always loved the Santa Barbara wines better. This is my style: high acid and crunchy. That\u2019s why I decided to settle in Santa Barbara. Not that you can\u2019t make similar wine in other places, but it\u2019s easier here. No sulfur, no additives, really purely from the place.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nHow did you find out about [your wines] doing well in the film?\r\n\r\nWell, when they came to film me, they told me that they wanted to film on Bloom\u2019s Field [one of four small adjacent Pinot Noir vineyards]. I thought, \u201cWhy Bloom\u2019s Field?\u201d La C\u00f4te is way more beautiful. Bloom\u2019s Field is kind of a mound. It looks nice, but it\u2019s not a picturesque vineyard like La C\u00f4te or Siren\u2019s Call.\r\n\r\nI had no idea about the blind tasting until after he interviewed me. My comments in the movie are without any knowledge of that tasting.\r\n\r\nWhat do the Sta. Rita Hills bring to your wines?\r\n\r\nEvery place has its own identity. I think the Sta. Rita Hills has a very unique personality. There is something with the Pacific and the soils that are so unique. The only place in California where you find diatomaceous earth on the coast is here in Santa Barbara.\r\n\r\nThat salty flavor of Pinot Noir, you get it other places, but it\u2019s quite unique here in the Sta. Rita Hills. It\u2019s the perfect place to do whole cluster. If you pick at the right time, there are such low [pH levels, which are necessary to make high-acid wines]. It works really well.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWhat is Santa Barbara\u2019s standing in the greater wine world?\r\n\r\nI think it\u2019s changing rapidly. In the last five years, definitely for people who drink Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah, they now know there is a uniqueness and freshness of the wine in the area as compared to other parts of California.\r\n\r\nThe styles are so different. There is not one overarching idea, but it\u2019s the easiest place to make superripe wine and still have freshness, or super-crunchy wines that are salty and savory.\r\n\r\nThe key thing is that people and sommeliers understand that there is an epic kind of freshness in wines from Santa Barbara that is very unique because of the soils and how close we are to the ocean. It\u2019s so different than anywhere else in California.\r\n\r\nWhere are your wines popular?\r\n\r\nWe sell almost a third of our wines in Europe. I was shocked. That wasn\u2019t our goal, but that\u2019s what it has become. We have a bigger following in Scandinavia than in California, for example. We even sell a bunch of wine in France.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWhat do you think of the Somm 3 attention?\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s funny. I love blind tasting, but I never ever wanted to compare my wines to Burgundy. It\u2019s great for the region, for California and Santa Barbara and the Sta. Rita Hills. The goal is to promote where we\u2019re from. This is our livelihood. This is where we live. It\u2019s super cool for California and the Sta. Rita Hills to be acknowledged in a tasting like this, especially by our peers.\r\n\r\nI know everyone who tasted the wine. They\u2019re close friends of mine. I know Jancis and Spurrier, and I\u2019ve known Fred Dame for 20 years. It\u2019s pretty cool to even be talked about in this context. I\u2019m happy for the region, and it\u2019s pretty amazing to even be in that group of wines.\r\n\r\nMovies like this bring awareness. Some consumers might not even know Santa Barbara makes Pinot Noir. That\u2019s very exciting to open a whole new world for someone who hasn\u2019t been exposed to the region.\r\n\r\nWhat\u2019s your take on the state of the wine industry at large?\r\n\r\nThis is truly the most exciting time in my career for sure. There are such amazing wines and so much connection between producers and consumers. You can find some pretty incredible wine and pretty reasonable prices. It\u2019s definitely the best time to be buying and drinking wine.