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2 September, 2014

Cimarone Winery

Comments : 4 Posted in : Other Red Blends, Red Wine, Shiraz / Syrah, Tasting Rooms in Los Olivos - CA, Travel Guide for Los Olivos - CA, Wine Bloggers Conference 2014 on by : The Gourmez


At the tail-end of my 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference experience, I stopped in at Cimarone Winery. I’d heard of them through Twitter, as the winery’s social media (@cimarone) did a great job letting us bloggers know they were in nearby Los Olivos and would be offering a special tasting for us if we ever had the chance to steal away from the conference. I didn’t have much time that last afternoon, having dinner plans in Santa Maria and being due in San Luis Obispo that night, but I fit Cimarone in, and I’m glad I did.


Nestled in Los Olivos’s adorable few blocks of tasting rooms, restaurants, and shops, Cimarone’s English flag and cottage-style building stands out. Why the Union Jack? While owner Priscilla Higgins has an international background, her husband and co-owner Roger hails from Yorkshire and has obviously retained his British loyalties despite starting a winery in Santa Barbara County in 2001.

The Higgins are pictured in the photo to the left. I know, I know, you can’t see it.

The Higgins are pictured in the photo to the left. I know, I know, you can’t see it.

My guide in the tasting room, Shelley Woods, spoke highly of the Higgins and of winemaker Andrew Murray, who’s done impressive work throughout the Santa Barbara region. What impressed me most about Cimarone’s wines was the nose—they all had amazingly complex and memorable noses.

In addition to the nose, I loved the artwork on the 2012 3CV Cilla’s Blend.


Named after Priscilla, of course, I found it to be an easy-drinking red that was a little too much on the blueberry side for my preferences. Someday, I’ll learn to like blueberry. If you do, you’ll probably love it. What I loved more was the 2009 Reserve Syrah, which I named one of my favorite wines of the conference.

Shelley pouring me a glass.

Shelley pouring me a glass.

I can’t forget that nose and how it made me a believer in barnyard descriptors when I’d never considered that an appealing concept before. But the straw and moss I got from sniffing made me yearn to lead a horse out for a countryside picnic—and I’ve only ever been horseback riding once. I think it helped that the Ballard Canyon Syrah course was still fresh in my mind from the day before, as I was prepared to appreciate the wildness of a good syrah more than I had been before. Bright cranberry and cigar rounded out the glass.

I also loved the 2010 Cimarone Le Clos Secret, a blend of cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot, cabernet franc, malbec, and merlot. Whereas the Reserve Syrah swung the door wide open, Le Clos Secret tiptoed up behind me.


Its lighter nose of lavender and strawberry did not demand the attention that the Reserve Syrah did, but the reward came as the wine opened up in my mouth. Sweet berry, aquavit spices recalling roasted pork tenderloin, licorice, and lavender came together for an expert blend. I cannot tell you how sad I was not to win the half case of it when I learned it was the first prize in the Santa Ynez County Wine Country bloggers’ drawing. Wait, I can. It saddened me a lot.

After the tasting, Shelley was kind enough to show me around the rest of the tasting room (cozy armchairs in the sitting room) and backyard, which are available for patrons wanting to while away a sunny afternoon with a bottle of Cimarone wine.



Thank you, Shelley, and the Higgins, for offering me your blogger tasting!

Visited 13 July 14.


4 thoughts on : Cimarone Winery

  • gay
    September 4, 2014 at 8:20 am

    I did the Los Olivos tasting rooms tour last year but didn’t stop in at Cimarone. Their wines sound lovely and I so love blueberry, (I’m having some in my yogurt this morning). I’m looking forward to trying their blend. Your photos really captured the essence of the Los Olivos tasting experience-intimate, peaceful, unhurried and completely unlike a typical winery tasting room.

    • September 4, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      Thank you, Gay! With your blueberry love, I think Cimarone will definitely impress you. It managed to impress me despite disliking blueberry notes!

  • September 6, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    I did some wine-tourism after WBC too and I could only scrape the very surface of what California has to offer. I’ll have to add this one to my list for our next California trip – great post.

    • September 16, 2014 at 12:55 pm

      Krista, I’ve been here a year and I haven’t even scratched the surface yet! I have yet to visit a winery in Sonoma or Napa, even though they are only an hour away.

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