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Alma Rosa adds to team

Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards, located in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, has added two new employees to its team.

They are Tom O’ Higgins, general manager, and Elaina Kroll, national sales director.

O’Higgins most recently worked for V. Sattui in the Napa Valley, and Kroll in national sales for Domaine de Cristia, and represented McPrice Myers and the Barrel 27 line.

O’ Higgins has deep roots in the wine business, having enjoyed stints in France, both in Bordeaux and in Epernay, and with several Napa Valley and Central Coast wineries. He will oversee daily operations at Alma Rosa, working closely with the Sanford family, Richard, Thekla and their daughter, Blakeney.

Kroll will manage national sales for the Alma Rosa brand, and work closely in tandem with the Sanfords, ‘O Higgins and winery owner Robert Zorich to elevate the Alma Rosa portfolio.

Drake Whitcraft leading Whitcraft Winery

It’s official: Drake Whitcraft is now full time winemaker and visionary behind Whitcraft Winery, founded by his father, Chris Whitcraft, in 1985.

Chris Whitcraft died earlier this year.

Since its inception — long before the now-popular Funk Zone in Santa Barbara, which houses it — Whitcraft has built its reception on small-lot pinot noir and chardonnay.

In 2006, barely into his 20s, Drake Whitcraft started making wine full-time at the family-owned winery. In more recent years, his father took more of a back seat to Drake’s growing love and obsession for what he considers to be his vocation: “If I weren’t a winemaker, there is nothing else I would want to do, save perhaps make music. My band mates and I have our instruments set up in my cellar, so between jamming with them and making the kinds of wines I want to make and drink, I’m probably the most blessed guy on Santa Barbara’s beach front.

From left are Burt Williams of Morning Dew Vineyards, Drake Whitcraft and the late Chris Whitcraft.

From left are Burt Williams of Morning Dew Vineyards, Drake Whitcraft and the late Chris Whitcraft.

“It’s been hard going on without my dad here, but my main focus is to make wines he’d want to drink and be proud of, and that speak to our vineyard sources.”

Whitcraft has worked with new vineyards in recent years, including Presqu’ile and Pence in Santa Barbara County, and Morning Dew in Anderson Valley. He is also sources from the same vineyards his father utilized, including Melville in Sta. Rita Hills.

“It’s refreshing to see a young winemaker like Drake Whitcraft making great wine while still following the concepts his father established, which set Whitcraft apart as a unique winery,” said mentor and family friend, Burt Williams, of Morning Dew Vineyards.

Information: www.whitcraftwinery.com.

BUBBLYFEST nearly sold out

Listen up! Since the inaugural sparkling wine festival, BUBBLYFEST by the Sea, has nearly sold out, organizers are urging would-be attendees to buy tickets NOW.

Already snatched up by your friends and neighbors are the three-day weekend VIP tickets and Sunday’s Funday Champagne Brunch. Nearly sold out are Friday evening’s Cocktail Mixer and Saturday’s Grand Tasting.

Brisk sales have surprised even veteran event organizer Holly Holliday, who attributes the scarcity in tickets to the fact that her Create Promotions’ event is the only one of its kind in the nation.

“Sparkling wine is experiencing a resurgence,” said Holliday. “It peaked in the 1920s, when champagne became the drink that embodied the lightness and frivolity of the era. Now, it is rising again on more of a craft cocktail and artisan wine level. The movement has gone beyond traditional varietals, and is driven by creative producers and mixologists willing to take risks and invest themselves in the process.”

For tickets and more information, visit www.bubblyfest.com.

Copyright Central Coast Wine Press for http://www.centralcoastwinepress.com