Habit Wine is one of the small batch wine labels our esteemed Wine Director, George Pitsironis, loves to have on hand at Union. New on our wine list is their 2014 Rose, which you won’t be able to find in too many other places due to its very small production. And recently, Chef Kalman and George Pitsironis served Habit Wine when they were given the honor of cooking dinner at the James Beard Foundation.
Habit Wine was started by Jeff Fischer, a man who prides himself on knowing his vineyards and providing his customers with sustainable wines that taste great.
From the Habit Website:
Habit is fortunate enough to be able to work closely with the best vineyard sites throughout Santa Barbara County.
All of our vineyards are managed by Coastal Vineyard Care Association which has a strong commitment to farming using sustainable, organic and bio-dynamic practices.
I moved to Cali as an actor and was waiting tables at a nice restaurant. But I had a lot of free time. So I took some wine making classes in Woodland Hills and started buying fruit to do that. I was buying so little fruit that people would give it to me for free. In 1995 I started making my first wine. I didn’t start Habit until 2008.
I eventually worked for a wine maker and learned at a different level. I worked for free for a couple of years in exchange for space. It turned from a hobby (about 10 cases a year) to something bigger. (8 – 3 barrels of wine per year)
I went in search of the right grapes. I was lucky to come upon a region that was mostly undiscovered. I was looking to make a porto blend and in Santa Barbara it was grown well. The grapes fit the site, the temperature. I was tasting on these small properties and I was super blown away by the quality. The Bordeaux. It was shocking how incredible these vineyards were.
~ What makes a wine special?
Wine making is not just only about the fruit, but it is the most important part. I’d rather make less wine of outstanding quality than produce a lot of wine but not have the quality be as high. I make what I can. The fruit I buy now is so expensive. I only take on vineyards I love because I’m only making 2500 cases of 7 different wines.
~ How do you think about sustainability?
We’re not using anything but water. The land is the most important thing. I trust my management team. I’ve known them for years.
I also don’t use capsules in the field, because they’re not recyclable. On the bottle, I use real cork. It’s very expensive but recyclable. You can drop them off at Gelsons. I could save a lot of money on synth cork, but it keeps people in the cork business in business. It’s a real art form. I also try to make conscious decisions on keeping the weight of glass down for shipping.
~ What are you excited about in the near future?
This is the second time bottling a Rose of which Union got quite a bit. And that’s out now. We’re also getting ready to bottle a few new white wines in the beginning of April. Just getting ready for harvest and getting organized is exciting.
It’s also just neat to see Habit in all of these terrific restaurants. At first I felt lucky if I could sell a bottle. People are really loving it.
~ What’s your favorite kind of wine?
I like ’em all or I wouldn’t make it. It depends on a given day or what I’m eating. If I’m eating oysters, I love the Savignon Blanc. If it’s chicken, I might go Gruner. I love the Pinot that I make. It’s just very expense and small.
It’s like movies. Sometimes you want to watch an action movie. Sometimes you want something else.