It's hard to talk about Santa Barbara wine country without at some point talking about Los Olivos, a small town located a few miles from the Buellton exit on Highway 101. One of the things that has caused the economy to pick up in Los Olivos is the amount of attention that the movie Sideways brought to the area. Before the movie, it was popular to mostly serious wine drinkers especially those that have a taste for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but Rhone and Bordeaux varietals also do really well in some of the tucked away little valleys. As most people know my business partner Derrell and I do a lot of traveling looking for wines to bring into UnWINEd and on one of those trips we were traveling through Los Olivos and there it was, a sign with the name Andrew Murray Wines, I couldn't believe my eyes. Whether he would ever consent to let his wines travel to Alaska or not wasn't even a thought at that point I just wanted to taste his legendary wines.
Once we were able to find a parking place (we probably would have parked in the middle of the street if we had to) we stepped into the tasting room. There before us was a long line of open bottles of wine, as I began talking to the tasting room manager about our shoppe and our vision of bringing boutique wines into Alaska I could see that she wasn't sure what to do with all of the information. She finally handed me a business card and told me that I would have to speak with Andrew. More often than not, that is the kiss of death so I figured that it probably wouldn't happen. She offered to give a complimentary tasting, so we tried every wine that they had. I don't think that Derrell or I said a word as we tasted through his wines but once we got back to the car we both looked at each other and said "OH MY GOD" and new that we just had to have those wines.
Numerous phone calls to the tasting room and the winery with no luck. I had pretty much given up when one day I get a call on my cell from an unfamiliar number, I answered as a very enthusiastic voice said "This is Andrew Murray I hear you have a wine Shoppe in Anchorage Alaska and I would totally dig having my wines up there". At first all I could muster was a "Wow."
That was over three years ago and since that conversation we have brought in well over a pallet of his wines, we always ask him for anything that we can get and are very happy with anything that he sends our way. Shortly after we got our first order from him Wine Advocate rated his wines and they all got scores in the 90's. Even though he sells out every hear he still honors our agreement to sell us wines at discount because as he puts it "you had confidence in my wines before my scores were published, had you waited until my scores came out, you would never have gotten my wines". I learned a valuable lesson that day, always trust you palate over any score, if you are always looking for good numbers you will miss some of the best wines.
Over the last three years we have been able to visit Andrew many time and even have him as a guest on our radio show (which we recorded at his winery in the hills of Santa Barbara County). If you like the movie Sideways, look for the scene where Mia and Miles are drinking a bottle of Andrew Murray Syrah.