Four Brix Winery IN Ventura

Many times we feel that wine tasting involves long trips to places like Santa Ynez, Paso Robles or Napa and often fail to look in our own backyards.  Four Brix is one of those local gems being a part of the Ventura Wine Trail that I have shamefully failed to visit in a long time.  Gary and Karen Stewart have been long-time friends and supporters of Grape of the Night (GOTN).  My last visit to Four Brix was in 2013 with the GOTN group where Gary not only tasted us on their fine wines but also provided an education on wine making.  When you talk with Gary about wines you can always see this glow and excitement reflecting his passion that shows in their wines.

Gary Stewart is the Vintner for Four Brix, which has six owners, Gary and Karen Stewart, Tracy and Jim Noonan, Laura Peter Noonan and Barry Fisher. On this visit to Four Brix, Barry Fisher and Tracy Noonan were our host and hostess for the afternoon as Gary and Karen were pouring at an event.

Gary's education in wine making and operating a successful winery was through mentoring and wine courses from UC Davis, which has one of the best wine education curricula in the country.  Through the years of trials and tribulations, Four Brix wines have gone from very good to absolutely spectacular.  The wines that I tasted on this visit were awesome.  During my last visit to Four Brix, Gary said that he started out making wine in his garage with another couple. They purchased inexpensive grapes at $200/ton thinking that the end product was the result of the wine making process and not the grapes used for the wine.  After receiving advice from successful wineries on wine quality and its correlation to good grapes, he learned a new philosophy, GOOD GRAPES=GOOD WINE.  With this advice, they purchased better grapes at $1000/ton and the results have proven to be astonishing. This practice is now used extensively and can be seen in his wines today.

Gary later acquired mentoring from Ryan Horn of Justin Winery in Paso Robles which further increased his skills and understanding on making high-quality wines.  In 2007 Gary began importing equipment from France and Portugal for his winery.  Gary worked with Ryan and made many trips with him to Italy and Spain increasing his knowledge and skills in old world wine making.  The winery's name, Four Brix, was created, according to Barry, as a tribute to the four wine regions of the world where the beauty, culture, and the manner in which blended wines fit into everyday life: France, Italy, Spain and our home, California.  Brix refers to the amount of sugar in the grape juice.

 

  Barry Fisher  &  Tracy Noonan

Barry Fisher & Tracy Noonan

The tasting flight that was being poured on this visit was spectacular.  Barry and Tracy explained each wine from terroir to the subtle nuances giving you a good overview of each wine.  Four Brix is best known for their blends which are based on "ALL" six owners reviewing the color, smell and taste and reaching a unanimous agreement on which blend ratio will be used in the released product. If one owner disagrees, it is not used.  

The tasting Flight consisted of:

  • 2014 Cani Amante Riesling - This Reisling is unique with bright citrus flavors of grapefruit/lemon that is well balanced and finishes dry on the palate.

  • 2011 Temptress (85% Tempranillo, 12% Grenache and 3% Mourvedre) - The grapes are from Paso Robles and the wine presents fine notes of cherry in the aromatics and on the palate. 

  • 2011 Petite Shirah (Golden Hawk Vineyard, Sonoma County) - This is a classic Petite Shirah.  It is dark inky purple in color with a gamey nose and on the palate you get beautiful dark fruits that are supported by firm tannins. This is a beautiful wine.

  • 2013 Scosso (64% Sangiovese, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot) The grapes are from Paso Robles.  As you twirl the glass you will see beautiful legs streaming down the side of the glass.  The aromatics and palate present you with boysenberries.  This wine is very popular and rightfully so.

  • 2013 Cani Amante Block 4 (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot) Four Brix hit it out of the ballpark with this Meritage. This wine was field blended which means the exact percentage, or ratio, of each varietal is unknown. It is dependent on the number of grapevines for each varietal as all of the grapes are harvested and processed at the same time. This wine is spectacular, offering dark fruits on the nose and palate, such as boysenberry and blueberry, along with notes of mocha. Wine Enthusiasts ranked this wine 90 points. FANTASTIC WINE!

  • 2012 Meritage (Merlot 64%, Cabernet Franc 30% and Cabernet Sauvignon 6%) This wine displays old world characteristics on the nose.  Cabernet Franc has a dominant influence with plums and dark cherries being displayed.

Four Brix is continuing to grow and expand and is now leasing Cani Amante Ojai Valley Vineyard.  This 38-acre vineyard is owned by Debbie and Ed Guerra but Four Brix has total control of care and production of the grapes and wine. I believe this will open up many new avenues in wines as this land grows Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot for Bordeaux blends, but the majority of the vineyard has Italian red varietals such as Montepulciano, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Barbara.  

 

Besides spoiling everyone with their beautiful wines, you can also buy appetizers or lunch, which can be accompanied by a glass or bottle.  The pizzas are yours to create from sauces to ingredients.  We had two different gourmet style pizzas and they were both phenomenal.    

It is quite evident that Four Brix is on track to becoming (if not already) a highly recognized winery.  Four Brix is already gaining professional recognition for their wines as noted by ratings from Wine Spectator, 89 points for their 2010 Scosso and now 90 points for their 2013 Cani Amante Block 4.  They have a large group of dedicated followers including their club known as, "The Brix Heads".  I hope that this article entices you to visit them as they are definitely worth the trip.  The ambiance and comfort make you feel like a family member and good friend as soon as you walk through their door.  Four Brix is about blends at the moment, but who knows, that may change with the addition of Cani Amante Vineyard.  They already have a Riesling and Petite Shirah available as a single varietal.  They are definitely, “Not just another brix in the wall.”  They want to explore and push the limits of winemaking and production through creative blending and winemaking practices.  Visit them, you will not be disappointed and tell them Rusty sent you.

 https://fourbrixwine.com/

Cheers,

Rusty Sly