The funk zone in Santa Barbara may have about a dirty dozen wine tasting rooms that you can cover while you stroll on foot. But, because it is a coastal climate, most local wineries produce the same types of wines: Burgundian. If you love Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, you could spend days here. But, when you get tired of those same wines, make a refreshing switch to sparkling. Since most sparkling wine is made out of these same grapes, many Pinot Noir and Chardonnay producers turn some of their juice into sparkling wine with completely different flavors, textures, and colors.
Riverbench is one of these resourceful producers of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that makes sparkling wine out of this grape juice. The reason this tasting room is a refreshing stop on your journey through the urban wine trail is that they do a sparkling only tasting with three sparkling wines designed for different palates. The first is a Blanc de Blanc made out of Chardonnay for those who like tart and refreshing effervescence. Its crisp pineapple and slightly creamy green apple is blanketed with a slight hint of sweet golden raisins. Next, their Blanc de Noirs is made out of Pinot Noir for those who like deeply complex and robust sparkling wine with a tiny hint of color. A slightly pink color from those thin Pinot skins looks like it will taste sweet but its pomegranate and cranberry flavors give it nice acidity with balanced body and elegance. Finally, sparkling wine’s best kept secret is a French style called “demi sec” which means halfway between dry and sweet. With just a subtle sweetness, it is like biting into a piece of fruit when you feel a tiny bit of sweetness in the front of your mouth at first but the back of your mouth feels the tart mouthwatering flavor and body of light whipped cream or meringue. Sip, sigh, and savor while you sparkle.