2018 Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley
Santa Maria Valley AVA - This broad valley runs from the San Rafael Mountains in the east, to the Pacific in the west. The cool marine air blows in off the 14 ̊ C Pacific keeping the valley chilly. The soils change in the valley as you move up in elevation from the Santa Maria River. The bottom land is sandy and well drained, which is good for crops such as broccoli, cauliflower and strawberries, but too rich to produce good grapes; the vines have too much vigor and need to be heavily managed to limit the crop size. The slopes of the Valley with more gravel in the soil and southern exposure make these hillsides the perfect spot for Pinot Noir. That is where we source our fruit from. Our Santa Maria Valley Pinot is a blend of three vineyards: Le Bon Climat, Runway, and Bien Nacido.
Bien Nacido - 500 plus acres of grape excellence. This vineyard is the jewel of the Santa Maria Valley. This dynamic vineyard is always improving, by removing some of the older blocks in favor of better clones, closer spacing and the correct orientation. Many clones are planted here, and all do very well. The Pinot Noir from here is especially well known for their amazing aromatics of cranberry, spice, rose petal, and minerality that follows through to the palate.
Runway – In 2008 16 acres of vines were planted on a 1,000 acre parcel. It is located about a mile from our winery, essentially next door to Bien Nacido Vineyards. We have watched their development from the beginning. After all, we are very “nosy” neighbors. The vineyard has improved every year as farming methods were fine tuned. The Pinot has the characteristically Santa Maria Valley character of being very fragrant, cranberry and spice fruit, and firm structure. The fruit from Runway provides that, yet is richer and more intense. Due to our proximity, we can pick the grapes “just right”.
Le Bon Climat - In 1998 Jim Clendenen purchased 100 acres in Sisquoc along the south side of the Sisquoc River and directly across the Santa Maria Valley from Bien Nacido (and the same distance from the Pacific Ocean). The sustainably to organically farmed vineyard was comprehensively planted to ensure the best possible growing conditions. This low yielding vineyard produces exceptional Pinot of firm structure, restrained fruit, and elegance.
Our winemaking has changed little in 35 years; we are still making handcrafted wines using the same basic, time proven techniques. No short cuts here. We use only François Frères french oak barrels – not cheap, but essential to meet our criteria – aging about 20 months in barrel. The cocoa and char from the barrels mixes nicely with the spicy cranberry/strawberry notes so typical of Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir. Though enjoyable now, the wine will continue to develop and be enhanced by age.