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Meet the Expert - Doug Margerum

Doug Margerum SommelierAward-Winning Winemaker. Celebrated Restaurateur. Winery Consultant. Négociant.

Some say that Doug single-handedly launched the vibrant Santa Barbara wine scene. He has founded award-winning restaurants, owns his own winery and consults for numerous others, and imports some of the most sought-after wines in the U.S.

Favorite wine region? Burgundy

Favorite wine story? Roald Dahl — the short story "Taste"

Light-bulb moment? As a young man, tasting at Clos du Pape in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Last meal? Seared foie gras and Sauternes.

Desert island wine? Margerum M5: a red Rhône blend, as delicious as it is intellectual. It’s always changing and presenting new flavors depending on its age, barometric pressure, the moon phase and/or your mood.

If you could live anywhere in the world… Santa Barbara. And I do!

Bucket list? Own a winery and home in the south of France.

If you ruled the world, what would you do on Day 1? Eliminate pennies and make the left lane for passing only.

Greatest achievement? My children.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Cheese making.

THEN Imagine a disgruntled teen forced to traipse across Europe alone with his parents in a camper van. That was Doug Margerum sometime in the distant, long-haired past known as the Seventies.

And then, somewhere in France, there was a wine tasting, quite possibly the last thing any kid wants to do with his parents. To this day Doug can still picture it, still recall the tastes and aromas: the dark, musty cave… the flavor of the wine, straight from a barrel. Doug had discovered wine. From the moment he emerged from that cellar his outlook changed — and he more than enjoyed the rest of the family trip across Europe, tasting new wines along the way.

It was only natural when he graduated from UC Santa Barbara that he should start at his family’s wine store in the town’s historic downtown. The Wine Cask store expanded to two restaurants, Intermezzo and Wine Cask, that won multiple Wine Spectator Grand Awards over the ensuing years.

In 2001 he founded Santa Barbara’s Margerum Wine Company and has been handcraft-ing select grapes from some of the area’s most prized vineyards into liquid gold — and winning awards — ever since.

NOW Doug’s fine palate makes him what the French call a négotiant: that rare someone so attuned to the perfect blend that he can negotiate various small-production lots to create the best possible wine.

His perspective on wines is truly global. As an importer, he travels the world’s wine regions in search of undiscovered gems. He consults for French as well as California wineries. And at the Wine Cask as well as at his two Margerum Wine Company tasting rooms, he continues to connect with wine lovers from around the world who come to enjoy gourmet food, share a well-chosen bottle, and talk wine. Doug is excited by what the Wine Club does. Having spent his adult years traveling and tasting, he knows there are many “hidden” wines that Americans would love — and he sees our club as a great way to share his discoveries with you.

NEXT A Francophile, Doug dreams of opening a winery in France — while still keeping one foot firmly planted in California, of course. He hopes his kids will eventually be involved in some way, sharing his own passion for great wines and food.