Best New Winery
WHY IT'S SO GREAT Since its first vintage in 2001, this Santa Barbara winery has been producing some of California's most exciting Pinot Noirs.
Sea Smoke, in the coastal Santa Rita Hills area of Santa Barbara County, began like so many wine ventures—with a dream, stubborn persistence and plenty of money. Owner Bob Davids, CEO of Hong Kong's Radica Games and an avid Burgundy collector, was determined to produce a world-class Pinot Noir in California, and he knew exactly where he wanted to grow this finicky grape: in a bean field. Not just any old bean field, of course, but a perfectly sited bean field across from the famed Sanford & Benedict vineyard. Except it wasn't for sale. Davids persisted, and after a long campaign he was able, in the words of Sea Smoke's winemaker, Kris Curran, to "obtain the unobtainable," in 1998. Sea Smoke currently produces less than 15,000 cases of three critically acclaimed Pinot Noirs: the fruity, approachable Botella, the elegant Southing and the more monumentally scaled Ten. Priced from $28 to $69 a bottle and available in restaurants and a limited number of retail stores, all are remarkable for their liveliness and purity of fruit.