Get the Dirt about Big Tar Wines from Winemaker Aaron Watty

20 Feb

BigTarAaronBig Tar began with money I earned from harvest work, which allowed me to buy some Sauvignon Blanc grapes from Three Creek Vineyard, now Crown Point. I made 200 cases of wine. After working 15 years in the restaurant business I was able to call upon friends in the industry to buy some wine. It promptly sold out in 4 months. I was able to buy more grapes in the preceding years and added red grapes to the mix. I now produce wines from Happy Canyon and Sta. Rita Hills in Santa Barbara County.

1. What was your first vintage year? 2012

2. How many cases do you make per vintage? 350-400 cases per vintage

3. Do you have a Tasting Room? Not at the moment.

4. How did you get your start in the winemaking business? I spent 15 years working in restaurants as a sommelier and Maitre D’. Decided to try and worked a harvest in 2005. I loved it so much that I returned to school to learn Enology.

BigTarbottles5. What wine made you want to become a winemaker/start your own winery? I don’t think it was a particular wine that sparked the interest, it was learning that all wines have their place and my interest was how and why they got that way.

6. What varietals do you work with? Big Tar works with Sauvignon Blanc, Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. I recently worked for Rick Longoria and started to learn about Chardonnay and Pinot Noir production from him.

7. What vineyards do you source from? Why? I source mostly from fruit from Happy Canyon and that is where I began wine production. I also enjoy the fruit that is grown there and the fact that the vines are starting to show their terroir

8. What type of oak treatment do you use? I mostly use neutral oak, letting the fruit and varietal speak for itself. I make a few wines that are aged in stainless steel. I am hoping one day to get some concrete tanks.

9. What do you love about your winemaking region? What makes it different special? I have spent 7 vintages in Santa Barbara County in wine production and can say that the people that I get to work with are some amazing people! The passion and caring of the winemakers I have met and worked with is truly inspiring.

BigtarLabel10. What’s the story behind your name/label? It started out with a baseball hat that I had created for another business, in 1994. The hat business didn’t work out but I knew that the name had a certain ring to it. Flash forward to 2012 and I was able to put it to good use.

11. What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you about the wine business before you started your own winery? ‘It’s easy to make wine, the hard part is selling it!

12. What do you love about small-lot winemaking? Anything you DON’T love about it? I am able to make my own decisions. Starting a business is scary, but knowing that you are doing all the work, creating something good, and striving to get better helps you get out of bed in the early mornings☺ Not having a facility that is mine and working with others is sometimes difficult.

13. Do you still have a day job? If so, do you mind sharing what it is? Yes I have continued working in the restaurant business. I work a few nights at bouchon in Santa Barbara, and also consult on a few restaurant wine lists for friends around the US.

For more information about Big Tar Wines, please visit their website or follow them on FACEBOOK or TWITTER.

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