Who we are, and what we produce:
John and Steve Dragonette and close friend Brandon Sparks-Gillis formed Dragonette Cellars in order to pursue a long-held dream to produce wines of the utmost quality and purity from the finest vineyards in Santa Barbara County and the Central Coast.
Our dream has always been to make the wine ourselves, to be personally involved in and responsible for all wine-related decisions, from vineyard to bottle. To that end, we have no employees. Every bottle that leaves our winery is 100% produced by our family members.
Our journey together began at an excellent wine shop, where we had the opportunity to taste the benchmark wines of the world. From there we obtained hands-on experience with some of the greatest wineries and viticulturists in the world including Sine Qua Non, Torbreck, Fiddlehead Cellars, Demetria Estate and Coastal Vineyard Care.
We have poured our experience into producing cool-climate expressions of Pinot Noir and Syrah from vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley, Sta. Rita Hills, and York Mountain, and Sauvignon Blanc from the uniquely suitable area of Happy Canyon.
Our logo represents the old alchemist symbol for the “elixir of life” or “drinkable gold”.
In medieval times, it was believed that gold contained medicinal properties, and the alchemists sought a process by which gold could be dissolved into a liquid which could be ingested to obtain its healing properties. While we claim no medicinal or magical properties of wine (other than the ability to transform an ordinary day into a day of celebration and joy), we do note that the formula for the elixir of life required utmost patience — there was simply no way to speed up the process.
What we believe in:
We have carefully selected the best possible sites and growers for each varietal we work with. Our vineyard sources are all located in the cool, coastal areas of the Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Ynez Valley, and York Mountain (west of Paso Robles). Most are sustainably, organically, and/or biodynamically farmed. Our vineyard sources include: Grassini and Voglezang for Sauvignon Blanc, Fiddlestix and La Encantada for Pinot Noir and Stolpman, Thompson, and Shadow Canyon for Syrah.
Low Yields & Per Acre Farming
As fruit quality is paramount to making high-quality wines, we spend a lot of time in the vineyards. In most cases we buy our grapes on a “per acre” basis so that we may control the important viticultural decisions during the season, for instance, shoot and cluster density, canopy management, and irrigation. And we personally walk the rows, fine-tune the farming (leafing, green harvesting) and, most importantly, select harvest dates for each block based upon flavors.
Our goal is to promote plant balance and to control yields, which in turn provides maximum flavor development, depth and concentration in the wines. Acreage contracts are generally more expensive on a per ton basis, but in our opinion, they are essential for quality.
Purity and “Considered Minimalism”
We pay great attention to detail in both our vineyard blocks and in our cellar. For us, “Considered Minimalism” means that we carefully consider each process in winemaking and seek to avoid excess movement or manipulation of the wines. Our focus, rather, is to allow great fruit to evolve into great wine that displays purity and balance and which is capable of aging. We bottle our wines without fining or filtration in most cases.
Blending for Flavor and Balance
Every decision we make in the vineyards and cellar is aimed at producing a wine of balance and complexity. To that end, we harvest each vineyard block individually and then ferment and age the resulting wines separately. We then carefully follow each barrel (or tank) with a view towards maximizing that wine’s inherent potential. When we feel the wines are ready for bottling, we taste each barrel blind and then assemble the final wine by blending various lots in the most advantageous manner. If we believe a barrel of wine would benefit from additional aging, we let it age until it is ready to be bottled.