...unfortunate financial times hit Ballard Canyon, and it had closed for some time, but has since re-opened as Rusack. Houtz was purchased by the Beckmen family, and J. Carey was bought and renamed Foley (the former Santa Ynez winery was also bought by Foley, and remaned LinCourt). The previous Maison Deutz sparkling wine facility in Arroyo Grande was purchased by a new proprietor (owner of the Barnwood label), and renamed Laetitia. The Austin Cellars label continued for only a brief period after proprietor Tony Austin apparently ran afoul of the law.

The Houtz label offers an interesting "personal" touch. The proprietor chose to use a peel-off sticker to re-label the vintage on this unusual offering of Cabernet Sauvignon Nouveau, a straight-from-the-tank type of Cab.

Cabernet Sauvignon from this appellation had a notorious vegetal quality - a cross between green olive, bell pepper, green and lima bean, and asparagus. Predictably, the wines didn't lose many of these characteristics with age. The region has now found that Cab Franc, Merlot, and Syrah all do quite well in the valley, and have largely shelved Cabernet Sauvignon, although a few do remain.


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