Babcock, who established himself as a winemaker in the region in the early '80s, was recognized for his work, including his role in driving that formation of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation boundaries to distinguish the region as its own AVA in 2001, a spokeswoman said. Sta. Rita Hills is one of seven distinct winegrowing regions in Santa Barbara County.
Babcock is known for producing acclaimed pinot noir and chardonnay wine labels, as well as a range of unique varietal wines and blends from lesser-known grapes, Clairette blanche, Picpoul and Mencia.
The AVA dedicated the award to Babcock for his "passion, craftsmanship and innovation," including his exploration of new farming practices, winemaking techniques and grape varieties that "produce the most compelling, terroir-driven wines from the region as possible."
Babcock is also known for developing revolutionary viticulture techniques, such as a gravity-assisted vine canopy system that seamlessly integrates the nature of the vine with the forces of nature to maximize wine quality within a system that flows more naturally, the spokeswoman said.
Babcock explained that great wine begins with the fruit — as a result of the soil, climate and farming techniques. He said that he believes Sta. Rita Hills is "one of the greatest places to grow pinot noir and chardonnay in the world, and the wines from this region cannot be replicated anywhere else."
"It has been an honor and privilege to dedicate my career to producing wines from this region, translating the soul and beauty of this unique place into each bottle," he said, "and I look forward to continuing my wine journey in this exciting region for many more years to come."
While California has become the No. 1 agricultural state in the country, producing over $50 billion in farm products, Santa Barbara County ranks 12th in the state for agricultural production among 48 counties.
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