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Lompoc winery: Babcock Winery & Vineyards

A view of the vineyard.
A view of the vineyard.
Anne Morein

Babcock Winery & Vineyard

Rating:
Star2
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Star
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Along the less populated Highway 246 in Lompoc is Babcock Winery & Vineyards. It is owned and operated by Bryan Babcock and his family. Currently, 65 acres produces 10,000 cases of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris.

The winery has been recognized by Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Pinot Report and Vinous over the past several years scoring 90+ points. There is no doubt Bryan Babcock’s years of experience have turned Babcock into a wine worth sampling but there is more to it when in competition with so many other great wine makers in the area.

The tasting room is open daily 10:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. A recent change from a smaller intimate tasting room which had charm and a welcoming feel to a converted warehouse that is cold and filled with merchandise and gives a sense of cattle herding was not one of their better decisions. The new tasting warehouse will definitely fit a larger number of visitors at one time but it is at a cost of the personalization once felt at Babcock. Bryan Babcock discusses his reasons for the changes to the tasting room on the website.

The previous tasting room is now a lounge which would be a nice quiet alternative place to sit with a small group and enjoy a tasting or a glass but puts those people far away from any refill which definitely encourages them to move along to another location.

A recent tasting included the following wines at $12

  • 2011 Syrah, Identity Crisis
  • 2012 Chardonnay
  • 2011 Pinot Noir
  • 2012 Pinot Noir, Precocious – Terrier EXTRAORDINAIRE
  • 2011 Merlot
  • 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Block 15

The server was more interested in chatting with a friend who was visiting than any of the guests at the counter. She was prone to skipping pours on the tasting menu and had to be told more than once of her mistake by various guests. She posed the same two questions to everyone she served and it was with only a half ass interest in helping. Even trying to engage her in the conversation by posing questions was a bust as she was unable to answer with specific knowledge of the winery.

A bad experience with the staff always makes the wine less interesting and we left empty handed and unimpressed after only 20 minutes or so. A disappointing trip when a previous visit left us with quite a different impression and a case.

Babcock has a Facebook page with images from around the winery and honors they receive but they do not offer discounts or special offers which makes it not worth the trouble of following them. Their Twitter account isn’t any more interesting.

With the location of the winery along a less populated road, a transformation to a cold and uninviting tasting room and a server more interested in her social life feel free to skip Babcock when visiting Lompoc. Despite all that the wine is worth tasting but pick it up commercially and avoid the tasting warehouse.

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