I’ve come to the conclusion that Santa Ynez Valley’s – and South Africa’s – most adorable wine maker is Ernst Storm. Ernst is currently the assistant wine maker at Curtis Winery on the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, and he also makes his own wine: Storm Wines.
I recently had the pleasure of attending a lamb-roast-meat-extravaganza barbeque for the wine maker’s birthday, and got to try various Storm wines out of various bottles: new and shiny, unlabeled, magnum and even Jeroboam. Ernst (correctly pronounced ERR-enst with a rolling r) makes Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Sauvignon Blanc. All the varieties I tried that day were excellent, especially with the meats.
And this is how the wine maker intended it; his wine is meant for pleasure among friends rather than awards, accompanying meat perfectly rather than chasing after points.
He animatedly talks about this goal of his wine with an authentic smile and sparkling eyes, and is earnest to the point of exhaustion. He also can’t say enough words of praise for his friends and those that have helped him (“Paulie is so legend!”): unpretentious with a big heart. In a word – adorable. Translation: “legend” in South African.
I’ll be drinking many more Storm wines.
Meet the wine maker: Ernst Storm next week, April 17, at Tastes of the Valleys in Solvang.
Note: Ernst’s Sauvignon Blanc is currently sold out, but can still be bought at Tastes of the Valleys in Solvang.