6905 Foxen Cny. Rd
Los Olivos, CA 93441
The original property was purchased in 1972 by a group of ambitious investors. They planted the vineyard in 1973. With few other vineyards to learn from, the vineyard was originally planted with numerous varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Chardonnay, and Syrah. Zaca Mesa was one of the first wineries in Santa Barbara County since Prohibition. As the vineyard grew and viable production began, a winery was built on the estate in 1978 and later expanded in 1981. By the early 1990’s, we had determined that the varieties (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Viognier, and Roussanne) grow the best on our site. We, then, decided to focus on the grapes varieties of the Rhône Valley of France. Our decision was reinforced in 1995 when Wine Spectator placed our 1993 Syrah #6 on their Top 100. It is still the only Santa Barbara County wine to break into their top 10. Additionally, our Syrah was served by President Clinton to French President Chirac at the White House. As one of the pioneers in the Santa Barbara County, Zaca Mesa was a training ground for many. Ken Brown was our first winemaker and later started Byron in Santa Maria Valley. Jim Clendenen and Bob Lindquist worked at Zaca Mesa before venturing out on their own to start Au Bon Climat and Qupé, respectively. Other alumni include Lane Tanner, Daniel Gehrs, Chuck Carlson of Curtis, and Adam Tolmach of Ojai. By 1988, the ownership group was reduced to just one of the original investors and that has not changed since. The Cushman family has a passion for winemaking and a long-term commitment to quality.
Raised in Los Angeles, Eric graduated from California State University at Long Beach with a degree in food science and a minor in chemistry. His career began as a wine buyer at The Wine Country, a noted wine retailer in the Long Beach area. Mohseni aided in managing an extensive collection of wines while developing his knowledge of wine and the wine consumer. In 1997, Eric took a sabbatical from wine retail, taking a harvest position at Edna Valley Vineyards. There he had his first dose of winemaking. “I will never forget the aromas from barreling down new wine into a new oak barrel. It gave me goose bumps.” In 1999, he furthered his winemaking knowledge by serving as a member of the harvest crew of Esk Valley Estate in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand’s fifth largest vineyard. Eric credits both of these experiences with igniting his passion for hands on winemaking. In 2001, Eric joined Zaca Mesa as enologist. Over the years, he worked his way up to Assistant Winemaker, then to Associate Winemaker and finally to Winemaker in July 2008. Since joining Zaca Mesa, he has helped fine-tune the wine quality and refined the winery’s style resulting in wines that have character, integrity and a sense of place. Eric lives in Santa Maria with his fiancée, Laura and their two bulldogs, Roy and Oswald. When Eric is not thinking of wine (which is rare) he enjoys spending time with his family, cooking, traveling, and listening to music.
Located in the northern most portion of Santa Ynez Valley AVA within Santa Barbara County, our estate is only 30 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Unlike most parts of the California coast, our valleys orient east-west, thus opening directly to the cooling marine influences that include morning fog and afternoon breezes making our vineyard a unique site for growing grapes. Our vineyard consists of 244 plantable acres on the 750 acre estate. Our soils are mostly sandy loam with plenty of rocks as our vineyard was once covered in pre-historic ocean dunes which now lay 1,500 feet above sea level. First planted in 1973, our vineyard was the one of the first in the region with few other vineyards to reference. With little history to go on, we originally planted numerous varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Chardonnay, and Syrah to see what grew the best wines. Until 1985, we had the only Syrah vineyard in Santa Barbara County. By the early 1990’s, we discovered that the grapes varieties indigenous to the Rhône Valley of France (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsaut, Viognier, Roussanne and Grenache Blanc) consistently produced grapes with well developed flavors and ripen evenly. Since 2002, we have ripped out over 100 acres of the original plantings and replanted half using new clones of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Viognier. In addition to planting new clones, we have tightened vine spacing to reduce the pounds of grapes per vine, implemented vertical trellises, and began using more efficient irrigation systems all in effort to improve the overall quality of the fruit. Our vineyard is the sole source for our wines. We also do not sell any of our fruit to other winemakers. Thus, Zaca Mesa “Estate Grown and Bottle” wines ensures you a unique, terroir-based wine experience to share with your friends and family. Sustainable Winegrowing – Environmental Stewardship In 2002, the Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers developed and published a Code of Sustainable Winegrowing. The overarching sustainability principles are: “Winegrowing and winemaking practices that are sensitive to the environment, responsive to the needs and interests of society-at-large, and economically feasible to implement and maintain.” It is a voluntary code. At Zaca Mesa, we have embraced the code in our winegrowing to ensure the health and sustainability of our vineyard, our employees, our neighbors and our environment. To create a healthier estate, we use organic products, conserve energy and efficiently use materials to reduce waste. We farm only one-third of our total acreage, leaving open space for wildlife, providing a buffer for our neighbors, and preserving the natural ground water. Our goal is to achieve balance in the vineyard by learning to work with nature and viewing our estate as one living, breathing system.