Mike Roth, Renowned Viticulturist & Coquelicot Estate's Winemaker
What he does: Brings minimalism and biodynamics to Santa Barbara wine.
Backstory: A New Jersey native, Roth got interested in wine while in school in North Carolina, and when he came West, he got connected with a handful of Napa luminaries, including Nils Venge (Saddleback) and Mike Grgich (Grgich Hills). At Grgich Hills, he became entranced with a leaner, fresher style of wine and with biodynamic farming, although that didn’t preclude him leaving to study winemaking at Fresno State. He ended up at Demetria, a biodynamic property in Los Olivos, then at Martian Ranch, another nearby biodynamic estate, where he made fun, affordable wines like Albarino and Grenache rosé.
Two years later, he left to work on his own wine, Lo-Fi, with longtime friend Craig Winchester. Lo-Fi describes his style in the cellar: indigenous yeast, little or no sulfur dioxide, old-fashioned techniques. But Roth is also a fastidious winemaker and a stickler for organics, which helps keep the wines clean and approachable.
Quote: “I always wanted to have a job where it was kind of a trade, like being a tradesman or a carpenter. Winemaking is like that. I’m really into the idea that you should be physically making the wine if you call yourself a winemaker.”
Harvest fuel: El Sabroso chicharrones hot and spicy pork rinds, and Tecate (30-pack always in the fridge).