Introducing Saarloos & Sons Vineyard and Winery (Part 1)

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Wine Expert Los Angeles

I’m from Santa Barbara. I lived in Santa Barbara for a long time before I worked in the wine industry there, but I always knew there was something special not far away in “the valley” (Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, Buellton, etc). Fast forward many years to my current situation, I’m working at Silverlake Wine and one of the owners asks me to use my contacts in SB to find wines that no one in L.A. has. I find one. I e-mail the contact person from their website. He’s flattered I sought his wine out, offers to mail us a bottle to try. I mention that I’ll be up in the area doing some tasting and say it would be fun to meet. He’s into it.

I drive up to the Windmill Ranch Vineyard in Los Olivos just off Ballard Canyon Road in the picturesque city of Los Olivos, I pull into the property and I am breathtaken. I was instructed to drive past the house and park in front of the barn, where I see your typical flatbed diesel truck with “Windmill Ranch Vineyard” branded on it in cursive. I’m in the right place.

Keith Saarloos greets me. He’s about 6’2″, slicks his hair back and there isn’t a single hair out of place. He’s in his early 30’s and loves what he does. What does he do? He farms. He makes wine. He loves his family. He loves his wife. He talks to anyone and everyone. He’s one of the most friendly people on the planet, and because of it everyone in the valley knows who he is and probably has some sort of involvement with him (whether they buy fruit from his family’s vineyards, rent office space from them, let him rent winery space, or get coffee at the coffee shop his family owns. Did I mention they also own one of the most popular day spas in the valley?

The reality is no one outside of the area really knows who the Saarlooses are. I’d like to help change that. Their passion, their loyalty to family, their hard work…it can’t go unnoticed much longer.

2008 was a big year for the Saarlooses – they now own a second vineyard that was gutted and restructured with 100% vine success (your average vineyard has about 85% success). Keith had his second child (first son) named Cash. Brielle is the name of his daughter who I just met for the first time and she is gorgeous! His father Larry commands your respect when you speak to him. He’s very calculated with his words, gives you his undivided attention when you speak to him.


2009 saw the release of a new line of wines under the Saarloos & Sons label. “Daughter’s” Chardonnay, Purper Hart Syrah, “194Five The Union” Cab/Syrah blend, “Ring Effie Unk” Cab/Syrah/Merlot blend, “0 and 2” Syrah (a second release of their 2005 wine), and “Extended Family” Pinot Noir.

“Daughter’s” Chardonnay Santa Barbara County 2007 – From the Saarloos website: “DAUGHTER’S was less of a name and more of a declaration of ownership, hence it’s possessive title. When we spoke of this wine the women in our family seemed to tell us, pretty consistently mind you, what they thought of it and their opinions of the wine. In our family, talk about something enough, and you own it. HENCE: DAUGHTER’S”

My Tasting Notes:
Opened at wine fridge temperature (55 degrees or so) with no hint of oak on the nose. Honeysuckle, figs, stonefruit. On the palate it is creamy without being too heavy. She doesn’t give the butterscotch or toffee characteristic that a lot of SBC Chardonnays can possess. Instead this is very elegant on the nose and palate. Reminds me more of a Meursault than Chablis. Not mineral driven, per-say…but hints of minerality on the finish and nose.

“Purper Hart” Syrah Estate 2006 – from the Saarloos website: “Our family lives by a creed. “We live to honor those that have come before us, and to prepare the way for those yet to come.” No one lived this to the point of conviction as our Uncle John Saarloos. John Saarloos paid the ultimate price for freedom in WWII as many did, and received the Purple Heart. We could find no more fitting title for our Syrah that is so close to our heart than to remember John forever by naming it after him. We The Saarloos’ are a Dutch family, and it seemed fitting to Honor those that have come before us in the Dutch language.”

My Tasting Notes:
Opened at 55 degrees – the first sip of this wine makes you second guess the information on the label…it says Santa Barbara but you’ll swear it tastes like France! The Windmill Ranch Vineyard where the Syrah for this wine is grown is like a slice of Cote-Rotie (a famous Syrah growing region in the Northern Rhone Valley of France) in California. I was blown away by the soil and the vine layout when I first visited the vineyard. The Saarloos family are natural born farmers…it is said that wine is made in the vineyard, and their efforts in the vineyard translate directly into the bottle. Purper Hart is 100% Syrah: meaty, peppery, medium bodied but packing a punch of complexity. DECANT this wine for at least 20-30 minutes before you enjoy it **unless you are opening it in the year 2011 or beyond, in which case it will be perfect out of the bottle!!!!**

Part 2 includes photos and more tasting notes! In the meantime check out the Saarloos website.

Blog Comments

[…] … destination: Santa Barbara. sam on Spotlight: Keith Saarloos. Stefani on The Armory. Dad on …Food GPS Introducing Saarloos & Sons Vineyard and Winery …Daughter’s Chardonnay Santa Barbara County 2007 – From the Saarloos website: DAUGHTER’S was less of […]

Hello there,

My name is Kurt Saarloos, and i just meet Matt Saarloos who lives in MN. I live in Nova Scotia canada. I was just really trying to find out more about my heritage, and have stumbled across some other Saarloos in this country. I have a unique twist to add to this remarkable story about a Family who produces great family, and great wine. My brother, and I are in the Transport industry, and although he just sold out to a 500 million dollar investment company, he is still the president. Have you ever though about extending your wine to Canada. People here love wine, and the amount that is sold here is stagering. Anyways get back to me if your intrested in chating about any of the above, as we would likly have alot to chat about. Take care, and great to hear someone is doing so well with something they love so much.

Take care, all of you!!!
Kurt Saarloos.

I too know the saarloos family through business dealings in real estate and now count them as friends. Just a great family you captured them correctly.

Hi, well written article. I too know the Saarloos family through business dealings. Just a great family. Trudi Carey

It’s all true!

How nice to see the Saarloos family get their dues. Great people and great wines. The above wines are _great_, but the Ring Effie Unk, I really think, is something special.

HI Matthew,
Great Article. I received this email in Shanghai,as Im here on Business. OI personally Know the Saarloos Family , larry Linda and Keith for over 20 years. I am not surprised they have created a pristine Vineyard . They are Special Friends and I cant wait to Visit the Vineyard and them soon and try the Wines. They always did everything Firs Class.
Jay Blau

NICE. I’ll be asking for these wines next time I’m at SLW. Watch out!

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