The Palmina Blog

Steve Clifton
Steve Clifton
December 10, 2019 | Steve Clifton

Celebrating our 25th Harvest

I can still feel the excitement that overcame me the day I picked up the grapes that would ultimately be first Palmina wine. It was 1995 and I was able to purchase a small amount of Sangiovese from the Santa Barbara grape pioneer Joe Carrari! I drove my old Ford pickup to Los Alamos to meet Joe at his staging “yard” and took possession of 1 full ton of sangiovese grapes. Joe handed me a shovel and I transferred the fruit to two 500 liter barrels that I had converted into fermenters. When I got them home, I shoveled them one more time into the vessels I had prepared in my basement. I was underwhelmed with the color of the juice and thankfully, was able to purchase some merlot from Rancho Sisquoc Vineyard to bolster the concentration. Now, having just completed the 25th harvest for Palmina, I opened a bottle of that very first wine with some dear friends. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised and full of immense gratitude with how well that first vintage showed.

So many things have happened over these past 25 years. One of my greatest sources of pride was growing Palmina and Brewer-Clifton side by side for 20 years. Winemaking has allowed such an incredibly full life of adventure and experiences. Through this profession, I have been able to travel around the world selling wine in Japan, Canada, throughout Europe and of course in many States. I’ve had the opportunity to work on wine projects in Italy, Argentina, Washington State and throughout California. I feel so blessed to have found something that I love so much and to be able to call it “work”. The “wine community” has been truly amazing! I have made such
wonderful friends and have worked with so many inspiring colleagues. It’s strange how small the world becomes when you share a passion with people around the globe. Through the years we have welcomed interns from Italy, Argentina, New Zealand, Japan, Mexico and Washington. I hold each of those unique experiences and friendships so close and so dear.

Another incredible part of the journey has been to have the privilege to work with such an enlightening cast of staff over the years. So many fantastic individuals have given so much of themselves to this endeavor. Palmina has always felt like a true family atmosphere. I can’t begin to express the immense gratitude I feel toward all these amazing people who have given so much of themselves to Palmina. From those in the cellar, vineyards, tasting room, office and on the road for sales, each person has left a lasting mark on this dream come true.

But, none of it would be possible without all of you! I am so deeply grateful to all of you that have remained so loyal as part of the Palmina family. We’ve made so many wonderful friends over the years, had so many parties, and enjoyed lots of food and wine together! And, we are excited to continue those traditions! This next year we are intent on expanding our tasting opportunities and having some fun and exciting new events to share with all of you!

We hope you enjoy this season’s recipes and these newly released wines. We wish you a very Happy Holiday Season and would love to help with any holiday wine needs you might have. Please check out our great gift package ideas and take advantage of our holiday shipping specials. We look forward to seeing you over the Holiday Season and in the coming New Year. We send all of our best wishes to you and your families and want to express our sincere gratitude for being part of ours.

Tanti Auguri!

Steve Clifton

Time Posted: Dec 10, 2019 at 1:40 PM Permalink to Celebrating our 25th Harvest Permalink
Steve Clifton
May 9, 2017 | Steve Clifton

Food & Wine Pairing of the Month

Grilled Lambchops with Fennel & Radicchio



1 - 1 1/2 lbs lamb chops, cleaned and portioned
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2/3 cup Palmina Nebbiolo Rocca
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
2 tablespoons aged balsamic
2 fennel bulbs, stalk removed and into 1/4” pieces but with the bulb end still attached
1 head radicchio, cut into 1/4” pieces with bottom still attached so it is easy to flip
Salt & pepper
2 tablespoons honey



Place 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, wine, vinegar, and oregano in a large Ziploc bag or bowl. Mix Well. Add lamb chops to marinade for 30-60 minutes.
Place the radicchio and fennel pieces in a large Ziploc bag and toss with honey and remaining 1/3 cup of olive oil.
Heat grill and place the lamb, fennel and radicchio on grill. Grill the lamb until medium rare, about 5-7 minutes each side.
Grill the fennel and radicchio on both until the radicchio is slightly wilted and the fennel is softened. Remove from the grill. Chop the fennel and radicchio and toss with balsamic vinegar.
Serve the lamb on top of the chopped grilled veggie salad.

Enjoy with a glass of Palmina Nebbiolo Rocca! 

Time Posted: May 9, 2017 at 12:30 PM Permalink to Food & Wine Pairing of the Month Permalink
Cathy Baer
March 20, 2017 | Cathy Baer

Food & Wine Pairing of the Month

Cortese Steamed Mussels

As you may know, all of our Wine Club shipments include a recipe meant to be paired with the new release wines included in the shipment. We've been asked repeatedly to share these food & wine pairings, so here's one of our most recent: classic and simple, steamed mussels paired with our 2015 Cortese, a wine with bracing acidity and refreshing minerality, meant to be enjoyed with seafood!


1 Bottle White Wine, 2015 Palmina Cortese
1 Quart Mussels
1 1/2 Cup Palmina Cortese
1 Shallot chopped fine
3 Tbls. Butter
1/2 tsp Dried Thyme
pinch of salt, pepper and Red
Pepper Flakes
2 Tbls. Fresh Parsley Chopped

Wash and clean the mussels. Throw out any fresh mussels that do not close when tapped.
Pour the wine, shallot, butter, thyme, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes into a saucepan. Bring to a
Add Mussels, cover the pan, turn heat down and steam the mussels for about 8 minutes until all
have opened. Throw out any unopened shells.
Put Mussels into a deep dish, pour over the broth and sprinkle with Parsley.


1520 East Chestnut Court, Lompoc, California 93436 | 805.735.2030 |

Time Posted: Mar 20, 2017 at 12:34 PM Permalink to Food & Wine Pairing of the Month Permalink
Steve Clifton
November 8, 2016 | Steve Clifton

Feeling Thankful



Post-Harvest Greetings!

Harvest this year was the best we have seen in at least the last 5 to 6 years! Beautiful fruit! All of the amazing reasons that brought me to Santa Barbara County to make wine were in full bloom and easily identifiable. Cold nights and moderate days allowed the fruit to retain its own marvelous acidity, the hallmark of our region. Our new production facility was put to its first real test and performed admirably! Efficiency and proximity allowed for one of the most focused and successful harvests I have ever been involved in. A big salute is in order for our Assistant Winemaker Javier Franco for organizing and executing a fantastic vintage in a brand new facility.

As we lovingly labored through a constant barrage of grapes, inspiration came in the news that our Vermentino was to be served at the final State Dinner at the White House for the current administration. It has been an immense honor for Palmina to “bookend” this administration by being used as a gift in 2009 to then Italian President Napolitano at President Obama’s first G8 summit in Rome, and then again at the final State Dinner for Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in October.

But alas, now our attention turns again to one of our favorite times of the year! With the Holidays coming fast, it is time for… NEBBIOLO!!!

We will be celebrating our favorite grape over the month of November with the release of our 2009 vintage of Vineyard Designates. Please stop by to try the incredible variety of flavors and aromas this wine provides.

With Halloween behind us, it is time for that most American of holidays, Thanksgiving! It is our sincere desire that this year you celebrate this most indigenous celebration with indigenous food and wine.  And nothing goes better with turkey than Nebbiolo!  We have whites to start your celebration, Rosé to continue and Nebbiolo to serve alongside your main course.

As always, we are humbled by your continued support and look forward to seeing you over the holidays! I’ll be making pizza at our Red, White and Green Party on December 17th, and would love to see you there.

All our best to you and your family and friends over this Holiday Season!




Steve Clifton

Time Posted: Nov 8, 2016 at 12:32 PM Permalink to Feeling Thankful Permalink
November 24, 2015 |

Palmina Thanksgiving Menu


Palmina Nebbiolo Turkey Recipe Card
( Click to download our
Nebbiolo Bird Rub recipe card. )

“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.”
—Henry Van Dyke


With Thanksgiving just a few days away, the web is flooded with turkey recipes, inventive stuffing variations, and tributes to the jellied cranberry sauce. Still looking for those special dishes to make this Thanksgiving the best one yet? We have a beautiful California-style lineup set to send your tongue into mouthwatering overdrive. As O. Henry noted, “There is one day that is ours. Thanksgiving day is the one day that is truly American.” Hear, hear! In that spirit, we encourage you to shop American, and even local in your meats, produce and wines. Pick one, pick them all, you are sure to impress your guests with these delicious Steve Clifton made and tested recipes:

Palmina Thanksgiving Menu 

Alisos Drizzled Dates

Welcome your guests this addictively delicious appetizer. Skip the arugula portion of the recipe and arrange with toothpicks on small dishes.
Pair with the crowd-pleasing Palmina Alisos (blend of Sangiovese & Merlot)

Roasted Beet Salad

A truly California-style classic dish. Organic arugula and beets alongside walnuts keep it feeling perfectly fall-like.
Pair with the fragrant, yet beautifully dry Palmina Malvasia Bianca

Asparagus Bisque

We love our asparagus in California, and we have found there is no better wine to pair than Tocai Fruilano! This soup will warm the hearts and bellies of everyone at the table. 
Pair with Palmina Tocai Fruilano, Honea Vineyard

Barley Squash Risotto

        Lend a nutty twist to the traditional risotto. This comforting and tummy-warming dish is sure to please turkey lovers and vegetarians alike.
Pair with Undici, 100% Sangiovese, Honea, Fiore, and Alisos Vineyards

Roasted Turkey with Nebbiolo Bird Rub

Orange slices keep it juicy and tender while the onions and rub give just the right amount of flavor and spice. This is your new Thanksgiving turkey recipe!            
Pair with any of our Nebbiolos, including our incredible Single-Vineyard Nebbiolo Rocca 2008

Palmina's Nebbiolo Bird Rubbed Turkey

Find these recipes and more mouthwatering dishes in our recipes area.

Also check out our Palmina Provisions line, including our famous Nebbiolo Bird Rub and variety of olive oils.
Loved what you saw? Stay tuned for our Christmas menu and gift ideas coming in December!

From all of us here at Palmina, have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving. Salute.                

Time Posted: Nov 24, 2015 at 1:04 PM Permalink to Palmina Thanksgiving Menu Permalink
November 19, 2015 |

Happy Nebbiolo Month!

A 3-pack crate of Nebbiolo from Palmina WinesEvery year here at Palmina we celebrate our favorite noble grape of Italy, the notoriously testy but undoubtedly lovable Nebbiolo. Exhibiting a stunning range of flavor profiles, from a powerful, muscular king to a sophisticated, elegant queen, Nebbiolo can stop even the most seasoned wine drinker in their tracks. It’s both cerebral and visceral at the same time, one to contemplate and one to wildly enjoy. 

The exact origin of Nebbiolo is debated in wine circles, whether it hailed from the Piemonte of Northwest Italy or from Lombardy in the central North. In either case, it was lauded by the famous Pliny the Elder in the 1st century, and by the 11th century was the official court wine of the House of Savoy, rulers of the Piemonte for over 800 years. It is no wonder Barolo became known as “The King of Wines, the Wine of Kings!” Tragedy struck in the 19th century, when phylloxera decimated Nebbiolo, and as a result other varietals like Barbera and Dolcetto took over the reign of Piemonte. Today, Nebbiolo is only grown in about 6% of the Piemonte, but keeps its regal reputation with the classification DOCG in Barolo, Barbaresco, Gattinara, Roero, and Ghemme. Factoid: It’s also an allowed grape in the delicious bubbly wines of Franciacorta.

2009 Nebbiolo from Santa Barbara County - Palmina Wines

The name “Nebbiolo” is also debated, with the majority of wine lovers understanding it deriving from the Italian word “nebbia”, which means fog and refers to the dense layer that accumulates in the vineyard around harvest. Others argue it harkens to the fog-like appearance of the grape as it matures, while still others state it derives from the word nobile, or “noble.” We love to argue stuff in the wine business, don’t we?

Here in California, Nebbiolo, along with other native varietals were the first European varietals planted. Arriving on the backs of Italian immigrants in the 19th century, Nebbiolo was first planted in 1802. Steve Clifton and Palmina first started working with the noble grape in 1997, and those of you who have been with us since the beginning, know the incredible wines these vines have given us over the years! 

Our current vineyards each have their own distinctive personality, and when blended together they belt out a perfectly tuned Italian opera:

Sisquoc: The tenor. The rowdy rebel. Tannic and forward. Notes of bright cherry, orange peel, brambly raspberry, cedar, and rocky minerality. 

Honea: The soprano. Gorgeous, elegant, and sophisticated. Mellifluous notes of rose petals, tea leaves, cherry, herbs, beautifully integrated tannin, and a leather whip.

Rocca: The baritone. The muscle and the structure. Deep, dark and brooding, with notes of dark cherry and plum, tar, tobacco, smoke, and black truffle. 

Try each of these individually and together in our SBC (Santa Barbara County) Nebbiolo blend. ALL ON SALE NOW to honor Nebbiolo Month.

Stay tuned for our Thanksgiving post next week for our favorite Nebbiolo pairings...

Until then,

Laurie is the National Sales Director for Palmina Wines and loves to spread the passion of Palmina and Italian varietals to wine lovers nationwide. You can find her at

Time Posted: Nov 19, 2015 at 3:47 PM Permalink to Happy Nebbiolo Month! Permalink
November 13, 2015 |

Early Harvests Hit California in 2015

"The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen
a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do."
-Galileo Galilei

The unseasonably early harvest of 2015 was a shock to the California wine industry. When the grapes started coming in July, you could hear the tires screech all over the state. Was it the heat and global warming? The drought? The natural cycle? I sat down with Palmina owner and winemaker Chrystal Clifton for some first-hand answers:

Chrystal Clifton standing in the vineyardLD: Were you shocked at how early fruit was coming in?

CC: This is absolutely the earliest time we've ever had harvest happen. It's undeniably the craziest thing to see fruit ripe and ready in July. Last year, the first week of August was the earliest. So to be in this area (Santa Barbara county) producing wine for over 20 years combined between Palmina and other places, we've never seen it coming this early.

LD: Were there early signs it was coming faster?

CC: Definitely, when we took our staff vineyard tour in early part of July the visible difference of fruit maturity was absolutely shocking. We had never seen the veraison and coloration of Pinot Grigio be that advanced in July.  That first week of the month was when we completely understood that this was going to be the earliest harvest ever.

LD: What do you believe are the top causes of the early harvest this year?

Vineyard soilCC: I think that it addresses the overall concern we have about the changing nature of our weather. The weather patterns have not been stabilized or been 'regular' for many years now. We did not have any cold nights and we had a very mild winter. Traditionally we have a swing of up to 30 to 40 degrees a day in our temperatures, meaning that it can go up to 80 degrees and down to 40 degrees at night. So, with that said, we usually have a very long growing season because it's so cold at night. When the weather stays so warm during the night the plants continue to work towards maturation, making fruit ripe early.

LD: How did it affect numbers/yields?

CC: The yields were really affected not so much from heat, but the effects of not having any rain were disturbing. What happens after many years of no rain is you have a mineral buildup in the soil and when the soils get this kind of deposit, all these minerals build up around the root system. When you don't have any really heavy rains to flush it away, they're not able to really gather the nutrients and produce as much fruit as they're called to do. Therefore, they really struggle and this year we got across the board about 30% to 40% of what we typically get in a "normal" vintage.

Palmina Wines grapes on the vine ready for pickingLD: What should wine drinkers know about this harvest (for Palmina and in general for Santa Barbara county)?

CC: You know it's really about enjoying the limited wines that will be coming out for 2015. We don't have a lot of grapes, so really it's about appreciating what the vintage gives you and recognizing that the quality is still there.

From all of us at Palmina,


National Sales Director, Palmina & La Voix

Time Posted: Nov 13, 2015 at 1:00 PM Permalink to Early Harvests Hit California in 2015 Permalink