Coast Hills

With Rancho Vino approaching, Hancock wines win medals

by Joshua D. Scroggin
July 25, 2016
Hancock Wine Medals

As the biggest wine competition in the state drew near, the folks in Allan Hancock College’s wine-making program had no intention of entering.

Hancock’s on-campus winery only opened in 2014. The college’s agribusiness department used a $55,000 donation from CoastHills Credit Union last fall to help fund some new winemaking equipment, but students hadn’t had the chance to create any special wines for judging.

Yet, when representatives from the Orange County Wine Society visited Santa Maria for a scholarship presentation earlier this year, the visitors were impressed enough to encourage the college’s viticulture and enology program director Alfredo Koch to submit a few entries.

As it turned out, Hancock was making award-winning wines without even trying.

Hancock brought home three bronze medals from the 40th Annual Orange County Wine Society Commercial Wine Competition in July. And the students weren’t just up against other colleges.

“It was unexpected because there were so many wineries competing,” Koch said. “I was surprised that we could win medals so early. It’s awesome, and it’s great incentive and motivation for the students.”

The competition is considered the largest and most comprehensive judging of California wines and is open to all — students sure, but mostly professional wineries. Nearly 2,500 entries were judges by 75 professional winemakers and winery owners.

Hancock’s bronze ribbons were awarded for its 2014 Syrah, 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2014 Red/Bordeaux blend. The varieties are available for purchase at the campus winery and select retail outlets, including Liquor Emporium in Lompoc, Old Town Market in Orcutt, El Rancho Market in Solvang and Lucci’s Gourmet Foods in Huntington Beach.

Next up, the program is upgrading its winemaking thanks to some help from CoastHills Credit Union and Rancho Vino, a special fundraiser supporting the future of farming.

Last September, CoastHills partnered with Presqu’ile Winery to bottle a special release Pinot Noir and host an evening of wine tasting, hors d’oeuvres and live music that raised $55,000 for Hancock’s agribusiness department.

The winemaking program used parts of those funds to purchase a new crossflow filter that will refine the college’s winemaking process and produce even higher quality vintages. With another Rancho Vino scheduled for this upcoming September, Koch was very thankful for the support.

“We received a very bright future thanks to CoastHills,” Koch said. “Thanks to the donation we received, that new filter will make a huge difference. It’s something that can have a big impact on the wines.”

Save the date for this year’s Rancho Vino, an evening of beautiful food and delicious Presqu’ile wines scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 10 from 6-8 p.m. at Prequ’ile. Tickets are available online. For more information, contact Rebecca Alarcio, CoastHills Community Foundation director, at or (805) 733-7628.

Rancho Vino 2016


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