Winery to Watch 2013

California: Deovlet

In our tastings and travels over the last year, we’ve noted some promising new talent—people who are making wines that offer distinct perspectives on their varied terroirs. Luke Sykora reports on one of them—Deovlet. Ryan Deovlet was visiting his cousin in Kona, Hawaii, when he was blown away by the flavors of a single-plantation coffee. Bitten by what he calls “the ag bug,” he signed up for the Willing Workers on Organic Farms program, and ended up working in vineyards in Australia and New Zealand. Now he works at Refugio Ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley, and runs his own project on the side. He started in 2008 with pinot noir off one acre of Rick Sanford’s vineyard, La Encantada, in the Santa Rita Hills; more recently he landed some of the old-vine fruit from Bien Nacido and Sanford & Benedict. His light hand, cool fermentations and a flexible attitude toward malolactic give his chardonnays transparency and precision, while his pinot noirs gain delicious freshness and spice from judicious use of whole-cluster fermentation. Deovlet’s 2011 Zotovitch Family Vineyard Chardonnay is worth tracking down—glinting with sea spray minerality, it shows the full brilliance of great Santa Rita Hills chardonnay.