Thursday, September 29, 2022     Volume: 23, Issue: 31
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Santa Maria Sun / Eats

Vega Vineyard and Farm will openin October with Italian wines and Mediterranean fare fresh from the fields

CAMILLIA LANHAM

The biggest difference between traditional Santa Barbara County wines and Italian ones is in the way they’re treated at the table.  


GRAPES AND VEG
Vega Vineyard and Farm in Buellton includes fields of produce, rows of vines, and that European lifestyle.
PHOTO COURTESY OF VEGA VINEYARD AND FARM

Pinot noirs and chardonnays are often imbibed in a competitive way—measured against one another—said winemaker Steve Clifton. His longtime brand Palmina recently merged with Demetrios and Karen Loizides’ new Vega Vineyard and Farm in Buellton, which will produce Italian wines.

The thing Clifton loves most about Italian varieties is that “they’re meant to be at the table.” They’re made for food and memories.

Open season
Vega Vineyard and Farm, 9496 Santa Rosa Road in Buellton, will open to the public on Oct. 5 with tastings and light bites. Tour the farm, taste the wine, feed the animals, and expect to see more in the future, as the winery continues revamping the property to host events and expand its food and wine offerings. Visit vegavineyardandfarm.com to learn more.

“They’re supposed to make you, as you drink it, you crave the food that’s coming out, and the food is supposed to make you crave another taste of the wine, and along the way it sort of loosens up your tongue and makes conversations happen,” Clifton said. “This project is so focused on food as well as wine, it’s the perfect place.”

Previously the home of Mosby Winery and Vineyards off Highway 101, Vega’s vines overlook the Santa Ynez River. Formerly owned by Bill Mosby, Demetrios and Karen Loizides purchased the property from the Mosby family after his death and named their winery for the ranch that started there in the 1800s, Rancho la Vega. 

The 212-acre property includes more than 20 acres of vines and a farm and farm stand, as well as a revamped winery and tasting room. It’s set to open on Oct. 5 with 2021 vintages and a lunch menu that will eventually expand into something more, Demetrios (Jimmy) Loizides said. 


FIRST TASTE
Find 2021 Italian reds and whites from Santa Barbara County on Vega Vineyard and Farm’s tasting menu when it opens in October.
PHOTO COURTESY OF VEGA VINEYARD AND FARM

“My whole life, I’ve always wanted to go with the European model, which is having a winery and serving food with it,” Loizides said. “I wanted to do this because it reminded me of my parents. My parents passed before COVID, six days apart.”

His parents grew up picking grapes in the grape-growing village of Kathikas, Cyprus. Loizides said that when he moved to the Santa Ynez Valley in 2011, his parents just fell in love with the area because it reminded them of home. 

Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Loizides and his family moved to Long Beach when he was a teenager. They opened George’s Greek Cafe, inspired by his mother’s recipes, which grew into three restaurants and a catering company in the Long Beach area. There, he met his wife, and eventually the two headed north, starting K’Syrah Catering and Events. The couple purchased the Maverick Saloon in 2017 and started Sear Steakhouse in Solvang in 2021 before selling it earlier this year. 


FULL SERVICE
Goats are just one of the animals you will find at Vega, just south of Buellton off Highway 101.
PHOTO COURTESY OF VEGA VINEYARD AND FARM

Similar to the farm-to-table ethos at Sear, Vega will be supplied by both the acre and half farm at Loizides’ residence and the half-acre at Vega Vineyard and Farm. 

“We’re going to pick the menu based on what’s growing on the farm,” Loizides said, adding that the Mediterranean focus of the menu will be purposefully paired with the winery’s Italian offerings. 

With some of the oldest vines in the valley, Vega’s acres hold grapes planted in 1968 or 1969 as well as more recent plantings, winemaker Clifton said. Varieties include nebbiolo, sangiovese, dolcetto, traminer, Montepulciano, and many others. The 2022 harvest will be Vega Vineyard’s first.

“The one in my mouth right now is sangiovese,” Clifton said on a recent Friday. “It’s tasting like we probably need to pick it Monday.” 


EVENT SPACE
Vega Vineyard and Farm plans to host events in the future with spaces like the new barn on the 212-acre property.
PHOTO COURTESY OF VEGA VINEYARD AND FARM

The harvest will also include grapes picked from the 12 acres that Clifton leased for Palmina, where he produced Italian varieties beginning in the mid-1990s. 

One of Vega’s newer plantings, nebbiolo, is Clifton’s passion. He’s made nebbiolo since 1997. It’s a grape that’s capable of producing flavors that span the spectrum from rose petals to tar including everything in between, Clifton said. Nebbiolo also ages for 20 to 30 to 40 years, he added, and just becomes more elegant as it ages. 

“There’s no other grape that I’ve ever found that you can find as many flavors and aromas,” he said. “Every time you smell it, it’s going to smell different than the time before.”


AL FRESCO
Taste your wines outside in one of Vega Vineyard’s several outdoor spaces, which are perfect for a picnic.
PHOTO COURTESY OF VEGA VINEYARD AND FARM

As an area winemaker for almost 30 years, Clifton said he’s always thought the property had amazing potential. The transverse ranges of Santa Barbara County enable the cool air coming off the ocean and the hot coming in from the Central Valley to mix into a climate that mimics some of Italy’s famous growing regions, such as Piedmont. 

Fronted by the river, Vega’s vines have the extra benefit of water flowing underneath them—even if it doesn’t seem like it on the surface. 

“The whole thing is location, location, location, and there’s no better location than this property,” Clifton said.

He added that the seeds put in the ground for the farm in June are already bursting with produce—zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, kale, beets, and more. Vega also has animals on the property—goats, pigs, llamas, chickens, and ducks. Some will be able to roam the vineyards and eat the grass and leave fertilizer behind. 

“It’s kind of all-inclusive,” Clifton said. “It’s exciting to see it all come to its glory.”

Editor Camillia Lanham believes location is king. Send tips to clanham@santamariasun.com.










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