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By Robert Parker
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Over the past decade winemakers have been planting vineyards on the limestone hillsides west of Paso Robles, Calif., and in the cool Santa Rita Hills northwest of Santa Barbara. It's part of the region between Los Angeles and San Francisco known as the Central Coast, which is emerging as a competitor to Napa and Sonoma. Here, vintners are creating fine wines with varietals from France's Rh??ne Valley. That's why they're known as Rh??ne Rangers. Here are some rangers you should get to know.Alban Vineyards
Founder John Alban was the region's pioneer, the first to plant Rh??ne varietals such as mourv??dre, grenache, roussanne, syrah, and viognier. People were skeptical that Alban could coax great wine grapes from this land, but he succeeded and become one of the region's top producers, making world-class wines that merit serious attention. albanvineyards.com; 805 546-0305L'Aventure
Bordeaux winemaker Stephan Asseo came here to tap the area's potential. He began producing fascinating wines from syrah and various blends of syrah and such Bordeaux varietals as cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot. aventurewine.com; 805 227-1588Linne Calodo
Only in his early 30s, Matt Trevisan creates wonderful blends of such Rh??ne grapes as syrah, grenache, marsanne, roussanne, and viognier. Theseare brilliant, elegant, seductive, rich offerings. linnecalodo.com; 805 227-0797The Ojai Vineyard
A Central Coast old-timer, Adam Tolmach has been producing wine for over two decades. He continues to demonstrate a Midas touch with his various cuv??es of syrah, viognier, and pinot noir from cool climate vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Rita Hills. ojaivineyard.com; 805 649-1674Sine Qua Non Winery
Austrian-born Manfred Krankl started this operation to ensure he had good wine to serve at his Los Angeles restaurant, Campanile. In a facility that looks like a Mad Max movie set, Krankl creates innovative blends of chardonnay, roussanne, and viognier for the whites, and grenache, syrah, and mourv??dre for the reds. These world-class wines from a reclusive genius must be tasted to be believed. 805 640-0997Stolpman Vineyards
After selling grapes from their 120-acre estate for many years, Stolpman Vineyards hired a top-notch winemaker, Sashi Moorman, who apprenticed under Adam Tolmach at Ojai Vineyard. The result has been a bevy of beautiful wines over recent vintages, including estate-bottled syrah and syrah-based blends. stolpmanvineyards.com; 805 688-0400Tablas Creek Vineyard
This is a partnership between the Rh??ne Valley's hallowed Ch??teau Beaucastel and longtime importer Robert Haas. The early vintages were uneven and challenging, but Tablas Creek's wines are now coming into full glory, offering a remarkable array of complex whites and reds as varietals and as blends. tablascreek.com; 805 237-1314To read previous Parker on Wine columns, go to businessweek.com/go/06Parker Visit www.eRobertParker.com for the Internet's most active wine bulletin board, tens of thousands of tasting notes, or to order his recent book, The World's Greatest Wine Estates: A Modern Perspective. You can also subscribe to Parker's newsletter, The Wine Advocate. Request a sample copy at: The Wine Advocate, P.O. Box 311, Monkton, MD 21111