Current Releases

2015 “de facto”
The SCV Beacon - Eve’s Wine 101: One Bottle Post: 2015 “de facto” Workman Ayer
96 points 

Greeted by an opaque deep purple color, I then dove in for the aromas…that were tantalizing me from about a foot away.
There was very bold dark fruits – cherry, plum and blackberry, and a pepper that was almost palatable but not burning, worn leather, rich earth, pipe smoke and a velvety quality. I found myself reaching for the glass before I was done with my notes.
The palate provided what the aromas had promised: silky yet spicy, dry yet rich, blackest of fruits met the blackest of pepper, and the finish was nice and long.
Going in for a second taste, just to see what I may have missed, I found blackberry jam, cigar and toasted oak.
I started to regret the sub sandwich I had ordered for dinner. I scoured through my desk drawer until I found…chocolate. Oh yes, this was a perfect pairing, and next time I would definitely make sure I had a meat lover’s pizza or a meaty Bolognese to go with this. Definitely heavy in the Syrah department, my favorite department.
(EHB 9/21/18)

​Wine Enthusiast - December 31, 2018
92 points

Gamy aromas of peppercorn-crusted beef smoked over an oak wood fire meet with black plum and boysenberry on the savory nose of this 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache blend. Smoky bacon flavors lead into elegant red-plum and hibiscus flavors on the medium-weight palate. -M.K.​

Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine - November 2017

89 points & 1 puff

Explicitly varietal in its mix of spice and dark berries and earning the nod first for its precision and secondly for its careful balance, this medium-full-bodied version is a fairly stylish Syrah that steers clear of heaviness and shows a slightly lighter winemaking hand but still comes across as being solidly fruity. It inclines to firmness far more than fat and has the structure of a wine that will be wholly sympathetic to food, and, if sure to improve with a few years of cellaring, it offers plenty to like in the near term.​

2016 “ipso facto”

Wine and Spirits - February 2018
92 points

Musky orange-blossom scents emerge as this viognier opens with air, yet it’s not a perfumed style.  Rather, it’s citrusy, firm and structured, needing time in a decanter to show its best.  This grows at three vineyards – one near Los Olivos in Santa Ynez, another in Santa Maria Valley and a third in Edna Valley – and went through malolactic fermentation in neutral oak barrels, building richness while remaining fresh. 

The SCV Beacon - Eve's Wine 101: Workman Ayer Does it Again X Three - September 15, 2017
91 points

​I’ve had this wine before, so I was looking forward to trying the latest release. On the nose I got aromas of freshly sliced cantaloupe melon, Golden Delicious apple, grapefruit, lemon-lime soda and wet stones. Diving in for my taste there were distinct notes of that same apple, lemon, lime and a bit of rain-washed concrete. A nice viscosity allowed the wine to linger in my mouth.

As it was an ultra-hot day when I sampled this wine I could easily imagine taking it with to the closest beach, with a picnic basket filled with cold fruit salad, hard cheeses, prosciutto, salami, crusty French bread, nuts and dried fruits. (EHB 9/15/17)

Wine Enthusiast - December 31, 2017

90 points

Very light in color, this bottling offers tight, bright and plump aromas of peach and lime pith. Lime candy and citrus pop on the palate, giving life to ripe Asian pear flavors that ride a grippy texture all the way into the finish. -M.K


Purely Domestic Wine Report | Volume 6.2 
90 points

​Supple orange and vanilla in the nose accented by crushed stones.  The palate is sweet apricot and textured weight finishing with crisp orange and nectarine with bright acidity.  Drink 2017 – 2020.

​Wine Spectator - Web Only -2017

88 points

​Opens with a pretty floral accent, giving way to a smooth and lush core of peach, pear and citrus flavors. Spice and honeysuckle notes linger on the finish. Viognier. Drink now. 133 cases made. –MW 

​Wine Weirdos - October 9, 2017

2015 "abroachment"

The SCV Beacon - Eve's Wine 101: Workman Ayer Does it Again X Three - September 15, 2017
92 points

Whiffs of ripened pineapple, pear, white peach, maybe some tropical fruit, lemon zest and whipping cream – aromas that promised equally stimulating flavors. I got a little more anxious now to taste: Oh yes, there was that pineapple, peach and pear that I wanted, and quickly following came zesty citrus fruits, cream, and a slight acidity on the back palate that only served to lengthen the finish. I enjoyed this alone but I could see it pairing nicely with a cheese plate, crusty French bread with Brie, cold seafood salad, and a great refresher between bites of Indian food...which I really want right now. (EHB 9/15/17)​

Wine Enthusiast - December 31, 2017

91 points - Editors' Choice

​Aromatic fruit and floral notes join delicious honeydew melon flavors as this full-bodied wine wraps around the tongue, leaving a soft smooth impression and lingering on the finish. Very good concentration, layers of flavor and that lasting finish lift this wine above the ordinary. -J.G.

Purely Domestic Wine Report | Volume 4.2 
89 points

The nose is a sticky pineapple, coconut and papaya.  The palate is a polished mango, lemon and apricot with notes of butter cream.  Drink 2017 – 2019.

Library Vintages

2014 “de facto”
The SCV Beacon - Eve's Wine 101: Workman Ayer Does it Again X Three - September 15, 2017
94 points
Lovely aromas of blackberry, blueberry, hard grape candy, milk chocolate, toasted oak…and an unexpected smoothness for a predominately Syrah wine. On the mouth the first thing I thought was Great Balance and then steady flavors of that same blue to black fruit, with just enough oak and tannins to slightly dry the palate. Hard to believe this was a 2014 as the balance made it appear older and the lack of heat make it appear like a French Rhône. Made me wonder where in Santa Barbara County the grapes were sourced. Ballard Canyon perhaps? One of the Stolpman Vineyards maybe?

Paired the wine with what was planned for dinner: tri tip, Caesar salad and King’s Hawaiian bread. Clearly, the wine took center stage. Now I remembered why I sent everyone to Michel’s table at Wine in the Pines this past year. (EHB 9/15/17)

Purely Domestic Wine Report | Volume 6.2 
92 points
The nose is a ripe, savory black fruit, grilled meat and signed lavender.  The palate offers a supple, mouth-coating blackberry and plum with a juicy red currant and spice, finishing with sappy dried raspberry.  Drink 2017 – 2023.​

SoloSyrah - September 17, 2017
92 points
​Beautiful fresh plum on the nose with hints of caramel and a bit of herbal aroma. There’s some stewed fruit aroma too and anise coming through.  There’s decent acid on the palate.  This is a Syrah that leans more Southern Rhone than Northern Rhone. I’d love to see just a little lower alcohol to perhaps bring out a bit more complexity but that’s more of a personal taste. In its current state it’s a crowd-pleasing Syrah that’s not over-oaked or overblown.

Wine Enthusiast - June 1, 2016
91 points
This blend of 90% Syrah and 10% Grenache offers plum, blackberry and blueberry on the nose with sweet cedar, tobacco and vanilla spice touches. There is strong acidity through the sip, which delivers similar elements as the nose, with baked black-purple fruit and clove spice.      -M.K.

Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine - November 2017
90 points & 1 puff
​Very attractive first aromas of ripe berries, spice, roast beef and a light brushing of an earthy/stony adjunct set this wine off on the right foot. And while it is not quite as expressive on the palate at this point, its solid structure and keen focus do encourage thoughts of better things to come. We would counsel setting it aside for some three to five years in the full expectation that its build and complexity will stay the course and reward the patient with a very nice wine.

grapelive.com - November 2, 2017
90+ points - Wine of the Day
​Michel Ayer’s latest set are deeper and more dense than his prior effects and this 2014 De Facto red has gained a bit more seriousness and has a bold palate impact, it’s a blend of 90% Syrah and 10% Grenache from select sites in Santa Barbara County and impresses for it’s rich character and length. Ayer crafted just about 90 cases of this stuff, using a bit of new Radoux French oak on the Syrah lots, he also co-fermented a tiny amount of Viognier in a third of the Syrah blend, while the Grenache was raised in well season wood to capture the fresh and fruity side of things, the vineyards used include parcels found in these areas 37% Ballard Canyon Syrah; 27% Los Alamos Syrah; 26% Santa Rita Hills Syrah & 10% Los Alamos Grenache (Thompson Vineyard). This is a sleek and modern California Syrah, it reminds me of Margerum in style, and it gains a bit of chewy density with air and well as revealing sweet and smoky oak nuances, but overall is very compelling and has attention grabbing textural pleasures with subtle spice and burnt embers adding to the loaded fruit which leans to blackberry, boysenberry, jammy plum, kirsch and blueberry compote as well as cassis, fig cake and gentile anise, minty dark chocolate and peppery lavender. The wood has worked well to smooth out the tannins and hide the acidity, though it still has a nice firm quality and it works well with robust cuisine, it’s purple/garnet opaqueness also lets you know this wine might be best with BBQ and fall weather food choices, it’s a step up from earlier wines in the Workman Ayer line and looks set to be a real crowd pleaser. I enjoyed this with pizza, but I would suggest it with Carne Asada street tacos or Korean BBQ pork/meat dishes!

2014 “ipso facto”

Purely Domestic Wine Report | Volume 4.2 

91 points

A light pure nose of jasmine, juniper, peppercorn, sea breeze, wet stone, Meyer lemon.  

The palate entry is supple and full with a solid core of lemon, resin, pineapple and granite,

finishing dry with silky florals. Drink 2015 – 2018.

the C​ORKSCREWER report - July 20, 2016

90 Points
Congeniality: /kən jēnēəl ədē/ The quality of being pleasant and enjoyable; very friendly. It’s a word that’s become attached to Sandra Bullock and beauty pageants, thanks to the Miss Universe contest and the monster hit Miss Congeniality, and not so much to wine. But, really, this review could stop here and you would understand why this is an excellent wine on that word alone. The 2014 WORKMAN/AYER Ipso Facto is 100% Viognier from Santa Barbara County, a region of California’s central coast that has been so consistently reliable for this white wine variety whose origins are France’s Rhone Valley. Viognier is a rather chameleon-like white (that is an oxymoron, I’m aware). It’s fascinating how many shades of white a great Viognier can pull off . . . just compare the high-end Viogniers of the undisputed French Viognier master, Condrieu, to those coming out of Australia to those made in Santa Barbara, USA—it’s a most unpredictable wine, in the best sense of the word. 

Soft, muted notes of Asian pear, orchard fruit, honey, lemon custard, citrus zest and honeydew is the sort of pleasantry you’re in for with the Ipso Facto. Clean and supple on the palate, this is a sipper for an enjoyable day by the lake, ocean, pool . . . you know, wherever you plan on having a congenial time with congenial people in your life. There’s brightness and warmth to this Viognier’s texture, so expect to be in a happy mood that lasts a while. And after the sun sets, if you’ve got some left, bring the bottle over to the dinner table because a really good Viognier is always classy and a really pleasant companion to food. 

And there you have it, in a nutshell: congeniality.  –J.M.

grapelive.com - March 6, 2016

90 points - Wine of the Day

​The latest Workman Ayer from Michel Ayer is the lovely and juicy 2014 Ipso Facto white, a 100% Viognier from a top vineyard in the Santa Barbara area, and it is certainly one of the better examples of this varietal to be found, especially at this price, putting next to Alban’s base bottling. The balanced Workman Ayer white shows pure Viognier character with tree picked apricot throughout with a heady perfume of honeysuckle, crushed stones and spicy jasmine. The palate is vibrant and lush with peach flesh, kiwi, mixed citrus and apple butter notes to go along with core of mentioned apricot. While very forward and direct there is nice vigor and vitality to be found, the lively acidity and light mineral elements are very welcome and give this wine so life and focus. I liked the first set of wines from Workman Ayer I sampled, but without question this release is the best yet for this small label, there are only about 147 cases of this Ipso Facto Viognier made, so you’ll have to look hard to find it, but if you are a fan of this grape and are looking for something unique then check it out. A lot of California Viognier, especially in this price class come across sweet or flabby, but the Workman Ayer does a nice job of giving pleasure, but still retaining poise and vitality, drink over the next 2 to 3 years, it will be best enjoyed young and fresh.


International Wine Report - March 2016

89 points

The 2014 'Ipso Facto' by Workman Ayer was sourced from the Central Coast. The Viognier begins with aromas of honeysuckle, lychee and Meyer lemon zest. There are medium weight flavors of Bartlett pear, honeydew melon, Marcona almond and suggestions of Mandarin orange rind. Lovely texture and balance. A good value here. (Best 2016-2020) (OB)​

California Wine Advisors - July 10, 2016
88 Points

Bright clean aromas of pear, honeysuckle and orange blossom. Very light on the palate, showing mineral and orange citrus notes. This is a fine wine for short-term enjoyment.


Snooth.com - May 31, 2016

By Snooth Editorial

Rich and fruity aromas of dried apricot and white peach on the nose with floral elderflower and sweet spice aromas. This is thick and emollient in the mouth with more floral notes of rose petal and white blossom, soft lychee and melon fruit notes and good minerality towards the mid palate and a soft lemon cream towards the finish. Very nice.

BRISCOE BITES - Baking, Big Bites, Booze, and More! - March 17, 2017

All of Workman/Ayer wines come out of the central coast, specifically Santa Barbara County. It’s an area I’m only beginning to familiarize myself with. While it’s not the “Rhone Ranger” station like Paso Robles, it seems Rhone varietals do thrive in the area — and winemakers are doing interesting things with those grapes. Just take a sip of Workman/Ayer 2014 Ipso Facto white wine…

About the Wine:  “Ipso facto” is a legal term meaning “by the act itself or by the mere fact.”  The name is and to Michel Ayer’s dual legal career. After spending 5 years in Napa working in the wine industry, Michel and his wife Stacy Workman (Ayer) moved to Iowa City, Iowa so he could complete a law degree.  The two spent just over 3 years in Iowa while he earned his JD and MS.

(Read the Workman/Ayer 2013 De Facto red wine review to learn more about the couple.)

Workman/Ayer 2014 Ipso Facto white wine is made from 100% Viognier grapes harvested from Stolpman Vineyard in Ballard Canyon in California’s Central Coast. After harvested, the grapes were whole-cluster pressed, then racked off the lees to ferment using native yeast. This primary fermentation was conducted under extremely cool temperatures in order to slow the process — so the wine took several weeks to reach peak dryness. The wine was then fined, cold-stabilized, and filtered before resting in stainless steel tanks just before bottling.

13% ABV

Flavor Profile: Can white be creamy? If so, that’s what color the Workman/Ayer Ipso Facto white wine appears in the glass. It’s so light, but not necessarily bright, and has a warming quality to it.

On the nose, the Viognier emits beautiful aromas of white peach, honeydew melon, and soft, white water lilies. There’s also a background aroma of something savory — perhaps a soft, white nut like pine nuts or even a non-funky mushroom like a white crimini.

On the palate, the white is quite light, has a brightness, but is surprisingly low in acidity. This brightness evolves, calms, and leads to a soft, full mouthfeel. The creaminess dissipates, melts away really, and you’re left with a lingering heat of white pepper.

Flavor-wise, the wine initially parallels those aromatics with an added flavor of yellow apple thrown in the mix. Everything — from flavors to mouthfeel — is soft, but notably not creamy. But, like the Workman/Ayer De Fact red wine, with the Ipso Facto, it is all about that finish — that lingering, spice-filled heat that just overtakes the whole palate and makes you warm and happy to be drinking wine.

Food Pairing: I paired the Workman/Ayer 2014 Ipso Facto white wine with grilled tilapia on top of a bed of roasted veggies, including butternut squash, brussel sprouts, red onion, mushrooms, and just a hint of garlic.

Perfect pairing. The fruity elements of the wine did well to contrast the somewhat bitter elements of the brussel sprouts and pepper crusting the fish. Meanwhile, the softness of the butternut squash enhanced that non-creamy softness in the Viognier and the mushrooms brought out that question mark of an earthy aromatic sensed on the nose.

More Info: If you haven’t read my review of the Workman/Ayer 2013 De Facto red wine please do — it’s another testament to the amazing Rhone-style wines coming out of the Central Coast. 

Wine Wierdos - June 5, 2016


















WINESCENE - 6/13/2016​

The first of three wines from the boutique producer WorkmanAyer is a delightfully refreshing 100 percent Viognier. Now, lovers of Rhone Viogniers don’t come with your predisposed notions of what Viognier needs to be even if it’s made in California. For you, go taste any Viognier made by Morgan Clendenen. For those of you who want a very Californian Viognier that can hold its own with the best, try this one. Yummy white peach, pear, apricot, early picked green apple, a hint of honeysuckle all are in the wine. Then you get hit with the layer of citrus. Lemon, lime and orange peel are there, with a hint of Meyer lemon in the finish. This is a wine of great length and balance and as white wines go, is a tremendous match up to Hamachi Crudo. As the night wore on, even with the reds open, I found myself going back to taste this impressive white. It kept going from strength to strength taking on body and becoming a delightful summer white.


The SCV Beacon - Eve's Wine 101: Can't Get Enough: STARS of California Part Two​ - June 10, 2016
Reviews by Eve Bushman after tasting our current releases at wineLA's STARS of California on May 25, 2016. 
Wonderful reconnecting with Michel Ayer – first met and tasted with this cool winemaker at a Garagiste event in Union Station – his wines are always so wonderfully balanced. This time the Viognier was lovely, no high acid to take over, just brilliant fruit that had benefitted by stainless steel and no malolactic fermentation.

Wine Imbiber - June 29, 2016 - STARS of California Wine
On May 25th, we attended the STARS of California Wine tasting event in Beverly Hills, hosted by Ian Blackburn’s wineLA organization. We enjoyed some excellent California wines that day….  Some of the most notable wines, for us, at the tasting included the Workman Ayer 2014 Central Coast “Ipso Facto” Viognier (refreshing).​

2013 “de facto”
Purely Domestic Wine Report | Volume 4.2
92 points 

A nose of tomato tapenade, ripe plum and blueberry with a veil of camphor, sweet spice and carbon. The palate is lean and fresh on entry with lush chocolate. The core is brilliant, waxy blue fruits and florals finishing with elderberry and tar. Sexy beast. Drink 2015 – 2020.

grapelive.com - January 16, 2017
91 Points - Wine of the Day

Michel Ayer’s Workman Ayer “de Facto” Red Rhone style blend is a ripe and decedent wine with a deep color and shaded with smoky/sweet French oak that comes across serious, but flirty/sexy on the palate, it is enjoyable and full bodied like the wines of Guigal and Jean-Luc Colombo, very late 90’s early 2000’s. Ayer’s sourced this 80% Syrah, 10% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre from three main sites in the Santa Barbara area, and the breakdown goes like this, 30% Los Alamos Syrah, 25% Ballard Canyon Syrah, 25% Santa Ynez Valley Syrah, 10% Los Alamos Grenache and10% Los Alamos Mourvedre, there were a couple of different pick days as well then the wine was blended after fermentations, it was aged in 40% new oak for just under 2 years. Only 100 cases were bottled of the 2013 Workman Ayer, so it’s quite limited and is available through their website and a few wine stores and restaurants, it is very fairly priced considering the small production and quality in the bottle, it’s a sleek and modern artisan wine, rather big at 14.5%, but not over the top with a lot to admire, it’s hedonistic, rich/thick/chewy, spicy and structured. The nose is a mix of cassis liqueur, smoky/sweet wood and liquid violets, but with air the oak tames itself and more earthy/spicy and savory elements appear, the palate is full with black raspberry, boysenberry and blueberry pie filling along with mocha/bitter coco, fig sauce, anise, chalk dust and a hint peppery hot cinnamon, plus dried vanilla. This is a ripe/opulent and forward Syrah led blend with mostly supple tannins, but it does have some impressive muscle and just enough acidity to keeps this lively, this is a fun and easy to enjoy young wine, great with mushroom dishes, grilled meat street tacos, BBQ and or Turkish lamb, drink now.

​the C​ORKSCREWER report - November 2, 2016
91 Points

Santa Barbara County is not particularly known for being a place for Rhone Rangers. The Central Coast wine region of California is dominated by Paso Robles, and the North Coast has Sonoma and a few mountain regions of Napa. What is a Rhone Ranger? An American winery that rides on a lone horse across the Great West that chooses to make esoteric wines and wine blends styled like those they make in the Rhone River Valley of France. Tell most people you’re having a GSM, and they’re, like, huh? Applause goes to a tiny winery in Santa Barbara, WORKMAN AYER, that makes a tiny batch of a Rhone blend—80% Syrah, 10% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre for the 2013 vintage bottling—called “De Facto”. A Rhone red wine blend is always going to be fruit-driven, and this one is most definitely flavorful—it’s a panoply of black, red and blue berry notes, along with other delightful flavors of raspberry syrup, cinnamon and brined meat—but it’s the texture that sells the wine. Cool and balanced, like Simone Biles on the balance beam, at 14.5% alcohol there’s muscular strength on display but the wine never feels heavy or belabored, always graceful; it’s concentrated but with wings to fly in the air. Add in the prominence of attractive grace-notes of blueberry and violets in the wine, and we’re sold. A significant step up from the 2012 vintage, and this should be a harbinger of greater things to come from the Rhone Rangers of Santa Barbara County.  –J.M.

Wine Enthusiast - April 1, 2016 
89 points
This blend of 80% Syrah, 10% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre shows black pepper, light boysenberry, tangy raspberry and a teriyaki-hoisin plum-sauce savoriness.  More black pepper and boysenberry show on the palate, where the body is relatively light but with plenty of verve and pop, thanks to plum-skin sourness, concentrated hibiscus and dried purple flowers.  M.K.

Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine - November 2015
88 points & 1 puff

Syrah might be the larger component of this likeable blend, but its influence is more mute than its percentage predicts and the grape's spicier, overtly gamy traits are held to a bare minimum. Instead, the wine smacks mildly of minerals with a dusty soil note to its ongoing, dark berry fruit, and its scattered touches of pepper are always subdued. It is a wine without bluster, but it is steady, solid and balanced, and it looks to gain added interest over the next three to five years.

SOIF - Fruit. Structure. Varietal honesty. Balance. - October 24, 2016

Bright medium ruby with thin clear edges. Beautiful apricot and dark briar nectar rising up out of the nose. Black tea and pecan pralines vie for dominance over shrill minerality and vanilla. Heady and brilliant, and expansively so with a good decant. Warm crusty bread slathered with thick preserves and salty butter on a rainy beach littered with wood and bordered by knee-high wet grass. And it’s ripe. Black fruit notes and noticeable alcohol make sure the sun is shining… somewhere.

A fairly new label to me. I know it is a “GSM” but guessing heavy, almost dominant Syrah-content. Everything else is no doubt influencing the *feel* of this wine but it has so many beautiful, un-adulterated Syrah notes. Simply “Central Coast” so I am going to have to do a bit more research where this is coming from, as it is a really REALLY good wine to be labelled simply Central Coast.

In the mouth, warm and fluid, everything EXACTLY in its place–a TEXTBOOK beauty–early minerality explodes into dense, not over-ripe fruit–tinged in cinnamon and sesame-oil earthiness while bright citrus keeps everything afloat. More sweet nectar through the middle: icing on peach-pits, before intense pepper seals the deal in a forever-finish. This is a serious drinker.

WINESCENE - 06/13/2016

Talk about night and day. The recently bottled and soon to be released 2013 was not showing as well as the 2012 when the cork was pulled and was a serious candidate for decanting as it is very, very young. It actually had a bit of that Aussie style nail polish varnish aroma at first, but as it opened that blew off and began to reveal lots of nice ripe and round flavors of wild berries, raspberry, strawberry and blackberry.  There was also lots of sage, rosemary and lavender in the nose as the wine opened in the glass. A dash of white pepper spice, some black licorice, plums, hints of wild cherry and black raspberry were all lining up, all encased in gentle tannins. In some ways this red reminded me more of older wines by Andrew Murray, when he had that amazing wine property and vineyard. Think Roasted Slope meets Esperance and you'll immediately know why the 2013 de facto is such a gem.

The wine is very long in the elegance department and that is not usually found in a wine so young given where the grapes were sourced from and how different 2013 was for some winemakers in the Central Coast. It’s enjoyable and drinkable early for a 2013 but can go 10 years easily. 

THESCVBEACON - Eve's Wine 101: My Favorite Wines and Cocktails from 2016: 01/06/2017
In writing wine and spirit reviews, which include comprehensive tasting notes on appearance, aroma, flavor and sometimes a score, it would be remiss for me not to explain that even when I’m not working on an article I will still employ some of these same methods when drinking wine for pleasure with friends or at a large commercial tasting event. Those wines, sans actual notes, are the ones I want to share today.

Why? Because sometimes we make our buying choices dependent on numerical scores from critics. While that is fine, especially if you have found a critic that has a similar palate as yours (you agree with his scores) it also reduces the time spent trying wines on your own, and finding them not to be enjoyable, which can be costly.

Some pals have also reached out to me, believing they will like what I like, and have asked me to share my favorites. So this article is for them as well. (Please keep in mind these are wines and cocktails I enjoyed in 2016 alone.)

And now, without further adieu:  In general, wines that I enjoyed but didn’t note the various vintage years were from … Workman Ayer Defacto Red Rhone blend….

BRISCOE BITES - Baking, Big Bites, Booze, and More! - March 13, 2017

Workman/Ayer is the story of a couple who shares a passion for California Central Coast vines and wines. They’re an extremely boutique operation, with just 100 – 200 cases each of their current releases (which at the moment consists of one white and one red wine). So when Michel Ayer kindly sent me a bottle of each, I was eager to learn a bit more about the man and woman behind the  bottle — and honored to taste what was inside.

About the Wine:  Michel Ayer entered the wine industry straight out of college, immediately securing a job at the famed Robert Mondavi Winery. There he met his wife, Stacy Workman (Ayer) who comes from a family of wine professionals: her father worked at Robert Mondavi since 1974, and her uncle since 1975 (and is the currently General Manager).

Though neither stayed at Robert Mondavi for long, they continued to pursue their careers in wine, she at Far Niente, and he for wineshopper.com/wine.com.

The Workman/Ayer 2013 “De Facto” name is a nod to Michel’s current career as a lawyer. De facto is a legal term meaning “In fact, in deed, actually.”

The Workman/Ayer 2013 De Facto red wine is a Rhone-style blend that’s not quite a GSM, comprised of 80% Syrah, 10% Grenache, and 10% Mourvèdre. Workman/Ayer sources most of their fruit from various vineyards along the California’s Central Coast. For this blend, 30% of the Syrah is from Los Alamos, 25% from Ballard Canyon, and 25% from Santa Ynez Valley. All of the Grenache and Mourvèdre was harvested from Los Alamos.

The final blend was aged for 20 months in new French oak (40% new).  14.5% ABV

Flavor Profile: When the cork pops out, there’s a subtle scent that wafts out of the bottle of plump round fruits with a bit of smoke — just enough to entice and intrigue. In the glass, the Workman/Ayer De Facto red wine is an opaque rusty rouge with hints of purple and a pink perimeter. The initial aromas are of red and purple fruits, along with a distinct floral aroma reminiscent of baby violets and lilacs sprouting in a field of wet grass. Swirl and sniff a bit deeper and there’s a definite background of white pepper, and an almost perfume-y smoke, like tobacco.

For all the fruit and floral elements on the nose, the wine is actually quite earthy on the palate — it’s dark, dirty, with flavors of burnt mocha, tree bark, with a background of roasted nuts. And yet, there’s still that perfume-y quality, and that combined with that burnt earthiness makes the wine drink like a fine cigar that’s just run through to the butt.

The finish — oh the finish — it leaves a bit of heat o’ the tongue. It’s a heat that’s spice-ful (as opposed to full-on spice-y). The wine leaves a tingle, nay, a warmth that takes over the roof of the mouth, the tongue, the cheeks, and the gums surrounding your teeth.

The tannins here are medium throughout, moving to a medium-plus level towards the finish. It’s a low acid wine through and through, but has enough to keep the wine balanced from start to finish. The overall mouthfeel is a pleasant, steady, and solid one.

Food Pairing: I paired the Workman/Ayer 2013 De Facto red wine with a grilled filet mignon and an herb-based salad topped with mandarin oranges, fennel, and a sprinkle of blue cheese. Loved this pairing. The spices and the warmth of the wine did well to cut through the creaminess and funk of the blue cheese as well as the sweetness of the fruit. Meanwhile that tobacco-cigar essence in the wine perfectly paralleled the crusty grill of the steak.

Snooth.com - April 4, 2017
By Snooth Editorial

Red fruit aromas of cherry raspberry and strawberry with pleasant baking spice and a creamy vanilla. Smoky, savory and tarry on the palate but still showing depth of fruit and a scratchy tannic structure with dark chocolate on the finish.

2012 “de facto”

Wine Enthusiast - February 1, 2015

92 points

The two-family winery produces a lovely and layered wine, with aromas of blueberry extract,

wet black tobacco, cinnamon roll, smoked oak and aromatic herbs.

Purple flowers of violet and lavender come alive on the palate,

with licorice in the midpalate and tartness on the finish. M.K.  

Purely Domestic Wine Report | Volume 3.4

90 points

A nose of pretty, lush plum, fig and violet. 

The palate is nicely dialed in, polished with a core of blueberry, plum and olive. 

Nicely textured, full and mouth coating. Drink 2014 – 2018.


Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine - November 2014

90 points & 1 puff

Leading with a fairly intense, full-on expression of pepper and meaty spice in the nose

with a very good complement of ripe berries in tow,

this generous, very well-made Syrah impresses on several levels.

It is very rich and fully ripe yet is never threatened by excess, and,

while a decidedly big-bodied wine, it is carefully balanced and surprisingly polished with

lengthy, raspberry-like fruit easing its way past its nominal finishing tannins.

It wants a few years of smoothing, to be sure,

but all signs point to a very promising future once a half-dozen or so have passed.


WINESCENE - 6/13/2016​


The Rhone blend if GSM is very much a fruit forward red wine that is easy to drink. Made up of 80 percent Syrah, 15 percent Grenache and 5 percent Mourvedre, it's an enjoyable red wine that works equally well with meat and fish.

As Santa Barbara County wines go, the de Facto is a nice, pleasant and easy to drink red, but not as big in style as say a Margerum M5 or No Limits Grenache by Ethan Lindquist, but it carries the kind of body and flavor muck akin to the Kaena Hapa Red blend. So while the deFacto wine has only three years or so in bottle, it is really complete, totally in balance and has a certain quality that turns non red wine fans into fans who want more. The wine also has that Grenache spice quality to it that shows through from start to finish. It has been made in a more fruit forward, ready to drink now style, yet it likely can age 5-7 years easily with proper cellaring.


2013 “ipso facto”

The Tasting Panel Magazine - August 2014
90 points/Publisher's Pick

The waxy honeycomb nose turns to jasmine, sandalwood and other exotic floral tones.  The creamy unctuous and petal-pushing palate personality an amazing peanut-butter and almond taste.  Zippy minerals peek through on the finish.

Purely Domestic Wine Report | Volume 3.4
88 points

​​ The nose is finely focused with notes of lemon peel, wet stone and florals. The palate is bright and polished on entry. The core is creamy lime and vanilla with good texture and layers of fruit and honey. Drink 2014 – 2016.

Wine Spectator - (web only)
88 points​

Light and juicy up front, with complex flavors of bright melon, stone fruit and apple that creep up on you, imparting a pretty floral component and a long, lingering finish that turns spicy ​Drink now.

Wine and Spirits - February 2015
88 points

This viognier’s florid aromas turn more serious on the palate, mingling stone fruit with earthy grip and a mushroom-like thread of umami, the texture plump but not heavy. ​It’s a substantial white for pork loin roasted with apples.

Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine - September 2014  
​87 points & 1 puff​

This 100% Viognier bottling takes a slightly different path than its more effusive, emphatically ripe cousins and shows a certain sense of restraint rather than rushing to tropical sweetness. It is medium-full-bodied and balanced to crispness with a slight acidy snap to its flavors of green peaches and limes, and its lingering, comparatively firm finish is colored by uncommon suggestions of chalk and stones.

2011 “de facto”
​Purely Domestic Wine Report | Volume 3.2
​93 points

A vivacious nose of freshly crushed berry, florals and graphite. The palate is once again, beautifully formed with an approachable blackberry, carbon, blue fruit and a lively sappy thread on the finish. Drink 2014 - 2019.

​​Wine Spectator - December 31, 2013
89 points

​ Dense, rich and layered, offering roasted herb and scorched earth notes, with touches of dark berry, spice, cedar and crushed rock. Gains depth, holding a tight focus. Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache. Drink now through 2024.



2010 "ipso facto"
Purely Domestic Wine Report | Volume 3.2
​93 points

Offers a nose of fresh nectarine, apricot, cantaloupe, ambrosia and coconut sweetness. Beautiful palate entry, with polish and finesse. Has a rich mouth-coating fruit intensity that is well balanced. Drink 2014 – 2017.


Wine Spectator - (web only)
90 points

The spicy peach cobbler and apricot flavors are creamy and pure, with details of orange zest, pie crust and honeysuckle.  A refreshing acidity weaves in and out.  Viognier. Drink now through 2019.



Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine - March 2014
 90 points & 1 puff

Heading off in a semi-floral, honey and beeswax direction in its nicely fruited aromas, this rich, deep effort leaves little behind in its expressive display of character. It is full in body, viscous and fairly mouthfilling on the palate with rich, fully ripe flavors that linger on and on and never stray from their juicy and still developing complexity. The wine is invitingly open yet time in the cellar will only add to its charms.


Wine Enthusiast - February 1, 2014
87 points

There’s a green mint and gooseberry edge to this 100% Viognier. While it lacks the variety’s characteristic opulence, it’s elegantly dry and crisp with ripe peach and tropical fruit flavors. S.H.



2010 "de facto"​​

Purely Domestic Wine Report | Volume 3.2
93 points

​A nose of carbon, black cherry, purple herbs, smoke, salt and intense blue plum. The wine has beautiful texture on the palate with well-integrated blackberry, briar, spice, carbon, cassis and wild ambrosia in a well-toned muscular framework. Drink 2014 – 2018.