About Summerland Winery
Summerland Winery produces quality, estate-grown wines derived from renowned vineyards across the Central Coast. Each American Viticultural Area (AVA) from which we source our wine grapes is a specially designated growing region distinguishable by its unique geographic, climatic and soil features. Our estate vineyard, Theresa-Noelle, is located in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. It’s planted to 11 acres of four different Pinot Noir clones: 115, Pommard, 667, and 828 and has 6×3 spacing of 4 blocks.
Founded in 2002 by Nebil “Bilo” Zarif, the wines created are precipitously focused on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varietals, though our winemaker also likes to dabble in expressive Rhône and Bordeaux iterations. We’re especially proud of our estate vineyard, Theresa-Noelle, in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. Beyond the vineyards, Summerland Winery offers an inviting, relaxed atmosphere in which to enjoy Summerland wines at their tasting room in the seaside village of Summerland, California.
Summerland Winery won the prestigious Pacific Coast Business Times 2016 Spirit of Small Business Award for the Santa Barbara County. This award celebrates small-business ownership and entrepreneurship in the Tri-Counties and we are very honored to be this year’s winner for the Santa Barbara County.
Raised in Iskenderun, Turkey, Bilo’s introduction to fine wine began at a young age. Zarif studied in Turkey, Lebanon, France, and England. His passion for fine and rare wines began in France where he was introduced to the regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Rhône Valley while studying in Paris. In 1978, Zarif graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science and Bachelor’s or Arts degree from the University of Denver in Colorado. He continued to study towards his Master’s degree with a minor in Energy Management.
Although his heart was in the wine industry early on, in 1979 Zarif founded Rock Oil, an oil and gas company, with the mentorship of Marvin Davis, one of the largest independent Wildcatter’s in the United States. He then sold Rock Oil in 1987 to Harken Oil & Gas and became the managing partner of Davco, an oil and commodities trading company out of New York. In 1990, he decided to operate a small cap take over and acquisition company under the name Zarif Companies. By 1992, he wanted to explore his dream of ranch living and purchased a ranch in Santa Barbara County. At 40, Zarif went to study Viticulture at UC Davis where he brought vine-growing knowledge into his profile.
In 1994, Zarif acquired 300 acres of land in the Cuyama Valley, a serene high elevation region of Santa Barbara County. Over the course of seven years he would expand Barnwood Vineyards to encompass more than 2,000 acres with 800 acres planted to vine.
It was during this time period that Zarif’s passion for wine would lead him to acquire the renowned Maison Deutz Winery in San Luis Obispo County with a partner he had met in the energy industry. Mr. Zarif expanded this property from 100 acres to approximately 690 acres of cool climate planted vine that encompassed 1,800 acres of ranch land and raised the stature of their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, bearing the name Laetitia Vineyard & Winery. Under his direction during his tenure at Laetitia and Barnwood vineyards, he achieved his projected goals by converting a 100,000 case sparkling winery to a still winery with distribution all over the United States and overseas.
His most notable contributions to the California wine industry include planting the highest elevation commercial vineyards in the state, which is by far the warmest and most conductive climate in Santa Barbara County for Rhone and Bordeaux varietals.
In 2001, Zarif sold his interests in Barnwood/ Laetitia to pursue a new and exciting venture: Summerland Winery. Drawing upon his years of experience in the region, Summerland is dedicated to offering the best wine experience on the Central Coast.
Over the years, Summerland has enjoyed a tremendous amount of growth from 3,000 case production to 60,000 case production. Zarif’s most recent accomplishment has been planting and producing Summerland’s first Estate wine in a very dense vineyard known as Theresa-Noelle in 2007.
Etienne first met Bilo at Laetitia Winery, where he began his career as a “cellar rat” learning the nuances of winemaking deep in the production mine after attending both UCSB and UC Davis to obtain his BS in Viticulture.
As his experience grew, he went on to work with Gainey Vineyard in Santa Ynez, then onto a winemaking position at Central Coast Wine Services in Santa Maria, California — Here, Etienne worked closely with more than 40 boutique winemakers. Etienne describes his experience during those four years of working alongside some of the regions most respected winemakers of the Central Coast as working a dozen harvests for a single winery.
The 2004 harvest marked Etienne’s commitment to Summerland Winery as Winemaker. Etienne says, “Santa Barbara is an exciting place to work as the vineyards here have really come on track, providing the means to produce world class wines from a truly unique terroir.”
Etienne resides in Santa Barbara with his wife, daughter Theresa-Noelle (for which our vineyard is named), and their twins. He enjoys surfing and sailing when he’s not crafting Summerland’s wines from vine to bottle. In addition to recreational outdoor sports in the beautiful South Central Coast, Etienne proudly serves one weekend every month in the Naval Reserves.