by Fred McMillin
for April 8, 1998

Ah Hah, Cambria


The Santa Maria Valley [on the northern side of Santa Barbara County] produces some of California's finest Chardonnay.

In the twinkling of an eye, Cambria has become the biggest winery in the Santa Maria Valley... not suprising since it forms part of the Kendall-Jackson empire. Cambria was financed by a syndicate that included Jackson's wife and fellow lawyer, Barbara Banke, who is president of the winery.

...James Halliday, "Wine Atlas of California"

The Rest of the Story

So Cambria was created a decade ago, but there was a problem. Barbara Banke wrote me, "Cambria Katherine's Chardonnay was struggling to be recognized. Something dramatic was needed... The solution turned out to be simple. We barnstormed across the country, giving the trade and consumers a chance to taste Katherine's blind against top Chardonnays from Europe and America. Katherine's came up the winner again and again."

If you missed the tour, you don't have to miss the wine. The 1996 is now on the market. Winemaker Dave Guffy is proud of it..."classic Santa Barbara Chardonnay with rich, tropical flavors."

The Wine

1996 Chardonnay, Katherine's Vineyard, Santa Maria Vly.
Cambria Winery and Vineyard, 5475 Chardonnay Lane, Santa Maria, CA.
Grape Source—The funnel-shaped Santa Maria Valley is 11 miles long with a maximum width of 16 miles. Of the Valley's 5,000 acres of vines, Cambria owns some 20% of them, including the 350-acre Katherine's Vineyard. The vineyard is blessed with a number of distinctive microclimates.
Winemaking—The grapes from each microclimate are fermented and aged separately. Dave waits six months before he starts blending his award-winner.
Phone— Winery: (805) 937-1777, Business: (707) 544-4000
Owners—Barbara Banke and husband Jess Jackson


The New York Times quotes Jess Jackson as saying "We are always looking for good properties." He surely nailed one in Santa Maria. PPS—Katherine is the teenage daughter of Barbara and Jess.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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