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Santa Maria Sun / Biz Spotlight

The following article was posted on September 12th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 28 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 19, Issue 28

Spotlight on: The Terroir Project

Jeffers Richardson, director at Firestone Walker's Barrelworks

Local beer lovers will have a chance to taste seven different one-off beers on Sept. 29 at West Ranch in Los Olivos as part of Firestone Walker's Terroir Project, led by its craft Buellton location, Barrelworks. 

The event, which runs from noon to 4 p.m., will feature beers created from a recipe that draws both from the grain and the grape.

"The Terroir Project is a collaborative experiment into the emergent world of beer-wine hybrids," Barrelworks Director Jeffers Richardson said. "It's an exploration into how 'terroir'–or sense of place–drives what we taste."

In all, seven breweries participated in the process, including Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and St. Louis-based Side Project Brewing. The beermakers were held to strict criteria for how they could make their beverages. All recipes had to use the same grain bill and allow the brew to mature in barrels for the same amount of time; the beer had to have the same co-fermented percentage of wort and grapes; and most importantly, the grapes used in the brew had to be grown within 100 miles of each brewery. 

Firestone Walker Brewing Company will be one of seven breweries presenting a one-time beer-wine hybrid on Sept. 29 at West Ranch in Los Olivos.

"Obviously, it was a little easier for some of us to source local wine grapes, but everyone pulled it off," Richardson said. "This really gives us a baseline for how these local ingredients shape the finished product. We are all making the same hybrid beer–and yet the outcomes will be quite different."

Ideas for the project first bubbled to the surface in 2016, when brewers from each of the companies began casually discussing the topic and a recipe evolved from there. It was deemed a reasonable and noble challenge by the brewmasters and a chance to try something new. 

Barrelworks Master Blender Jim Crooks is no stranger to stradling the lines between wine and beer. For example, Barrelworks' Bretta Rosé uses mostly local Santa Maria raspberries as a key part of its fermenting process.

"It's just got this amazing pink rosé hue and the aroma of freshly picked raspberries," Crooks told the Sun, who added that the different fruit used by blenders set different beers apart in the same way different varieties of hops would. 

It's why he and many in the craft beer community are so excited for Sept. 29, when they'll finally get to try the beer-wine hybrids. 

"I can't wait to taste what everyone came up with," Richardson said. "I think this is going to be a real eye-opening experience for brewers and consumers alike."

Tickets for the event are $65 and include Terroir Project tastings from the seven participating breweries: Beavertown (London), Barrelworks, Garage Project (Wellington, New Zealand), Jester King (Austin), Side Project (St. Louis), Sierra Nevada (Chico), and Trillium (Boston). A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Pacific Conservatory Theatre (PCPA). 

Tickets also include tastings from guest breweries such as Russian River Brewing Company and The Bruery along with guest wineries like Andrew Murray Vineyards, Foxen, Thacher, and Whitcraft. Admission also includes a commemorative tasting glass and live music. To buy tickets, visit


• Solvang is set to host its annual Danish Days from Sept. 14 to 16. The weekend celebration features food, dancing, parades, and live entertainment, all honoring the city's Danish heritage. 

• Doc Burnstein's Ice Cream Lab (with locations in San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria, and Arroyo Grande) was recently featured on Martha and Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party hosted by Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg. The company, along with SLO Baked Bakery, provided a massive, 2-foot-by-5-foot ice cream sandwich made with more than 60 gallons of vanilla ice cream and 50 pounds of cake. The show aired on Sept. 5. 

• Leadership Lompoc Valley will host its annual kick-off banquet on Sept. 28 at La Purisima State Historic Park beginning at 6 p.m. The event costs $35 per person to attend. Its organizers recommend attendees bring a flashlight and wear comfortable shoes. 

Staff Writer Spencer Cole wrote this week's Biz Spotlight. Information should be sent to the Sun via fax, mail, or email at

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