Seth Kunin, a transplanted New Yorker, first arrived on the west coast to work in California's fine dining scene, where he fell in love with wine and ended up quitting the restaurant business.

After several years working for other producers, he set his sights on producing a range of wines reminiscent of the elegant Rhône wines he loved, settling on the Santa Barbara region - California's coolest wine-growing area and until then known chiefly for its high-quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Scepticism of Santa Barbara's potential to grow top-class Syrah was compounded by the 1990's fashion for blockbuster-style Shiraz from Australia's Barossa Valley and California's North Coast. Fortunately, Kunin's connections with the restaurant scene and his wines' exquisite ability to compliment, as opposed to overwhelm fine cooking, meant that they found a ready market.

As we now know, California has undergone a revolution in recent years, and many other winemakers have come to the same conclusion as Seth Kunin - that their State is not merely capable of producing fruit bombs, but also subtle, elegant, complex and ageworthy wines. But as much as he helped to start the revolution, he continues to lead it.

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