2014 Spring Release

March 2014

New Releases: 2012 Pinot Noirs: Sta. Rita Hills, Radian Vineyard, and Bentrock Vineyard, 2013 Rosé Happy Canyon and 2012 Grenache John Sebastiano Vineyard.

Greetings from the Santa Ynez Valley:
This is one of our favorite emails of the year – the announcement of the release of the first Pinot Noirs of the new vintage. In this case, the Pinots come from one of the most exciting vintages in years, the justifiably lauded 2012 vintage. In addition, we also announce the release of the 2013 Rosé from Happy Canyon and our first ever single vineyard Grenache (2012) from the soon-to-be famous steep slopes of the John Sebastiano Vineyard.

This release is a special one for us, as it is a culmination of sorts of our vineyard sourcing strategies which were developed over the last 10 years.  These wines truly hail from some of the finest and most interesting sites anywhere in California.  All wines are available for immediate sale and shipping (weather permitting). Get them while you can!

And now, the new wines:

2012 Pinot Noirs

The Vintage: 2012 was almost a perfect vintage.  We benefitted from an early budbreak (mid March), a lack of significant frosts, marvelous weather during bloom and set, and a long season of warm sunny days, refreshed by cool evenings.  We avoided any significant heat spikes, and the grapes were able to ripen at a measured pace, allowing for both sugar and, perhaps more importantly, phenolic (flavor) development. September, in particular, was lovely, with long days of sunshine without excessive heat and nighttime cool downs, which permitted the vines to rest, preserving critical acidity.  We also avoided rain at harvest time, allowing us to monitor the grapes every few days and to pick at the precise moment of optimal ripeness.  Grapes were harvested from September 12 to October 4 depending on the vineyard.  The grapes generally showed excellent complex flavors and ripe tannins at reasonable acidity.  

Winemaking: With such excellent material, winemaking was relatively straightforward. We were able to extract maximum flavors through our usual methods of 4-7 day cold soak with pumpovers, fermentation almost entirely with native yeasts and twice daily punchdowns, and careful, separate handling of free run wine and gentle press wine. Malolactic fermentation took place in barrel.  The wine remained on its lees, without racking for 15 months. At 15 months we carefully tasted all barrels and decided to craft a single vineyard wine from a few barrels of wine from the unique, fascinating, Radian vineyard and a Sta. Rita Hills blend of wines from across the appellation, from north (Hwy 246 corridor) to south (Santa Rosa Road) and from east to the far western edge, allowing us to create layers of aromatic and flavor complexity. In addition, we created a micro-production, wine club exclusive single vineyard wine from Bentrock Vineyard. This is the benefit of the wine club – access to special wines that cannot be found anywhere else.       

2012 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills ($44)

This wine is a blend of several top sites in the Sta Rita Hills.  John Sebastiano lies on steep, windswept slopes, and our several distinct blocks (Clones 4, 828 and 777) yield intense, fruit dominated wines. The justifiably renowned Fiddlestix vineyard provides higher register red fruits and spice.  We select wines from four different blocks at Fiddlestix, representing clones 113, 115, 667 and 777, for even more complexity. La Encantada, planted by SRH pioneer Richard Sanford, gives textbook black cherry fruits and baking spices in an intense, structured package. Zotovich, which is planted on almost pure sand, grows tiny berries giving elegant, high-register red fruited wines of character. Radian sits, north facing, and at high elevation on almost pure diatomaceous earth. These soils, plus the high winds and fog severely limit yields here and the wines are highly concentrated, but with great minerality and complexity. Radian’s sister vineyard, Bentrock, gives intense, energetic and concentrated wines, which are at once flavorful but elegant and balanced. We are thrilled with the blend which we think represents itself as a perfect expression of Sta. Rita Hills; juicy, rich and flavorful, yet impeccably structured and balanced.  The 2011 vintage of this wine received 91 points from Josh Raynolds in Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar.

Our Tasting Note: On the nose, the wine combines classic Santa Rita Hills notes of dark black cherry, fresh and preserved red fruits (raspberry, strawberry) and kirsch, along with baking spices, cacao, hints of fresh herbs and a touch of vanilla. On the palate the wine is concentrated and intense with ripe red fruits (cherries, raspberries) complicated by notes of rhurbarb, fresh and dried herbs (bay leaf, tarragon) and wood smoke.  The wine is medium bodied, yet intense, as bright, citrus-tinged acids and round ripe tannins provide structure and energy on the long, complex finish.

2012 Pinot Noir, Radian Vineyard ($54)

Radian is a new and exceptionally promising vineyard at the very western edge of the Sta. Rita Hills. We selected our blocks from the most extreme portions at the very top of the vineyard.  Our blocks are therefore at high elevation on steep, north facing slopes, and planted in almost pure diatomaceous earth. Our blocks are regularly buffeted by high winds and/or covered in fog, which severely limits yields to under 1 ton per acre.  The wines are unique, highly concentrated red fruits, but with great acidity, an intense mineral streak, and complexity from earth and fresh herb notes.  This wine is extremely limited and will sell out fast. The 2011 vintage of this wine received 92 points from Josh Raynolds in Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar.

Our Tasting Note: This wine displays aromas of deep, concentrated red fruits (sour cherry, strawberry and sweet cranberry) along with intense mineral notes of sea shell, and wet stones and a fascinating melange of fresh and dried herbs (bay leaf, anise, thyme, tarragon) and smoky nori.  On the palate the wine is rich, yet measured, as concentrated fresh red fruits intermingle with herbs and stones in a light to medium bodied frame.  A solid tannic spine and notable, tangy acids provide citrus notes and intrigue, and the wine dances across the palate to a satisfying, contemplative finish.

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2012 Pinot Noir, Bentrock Vineyard ($54) – Wine Club Exclusive, SOLD OUT

Bentrock is another new and exceptionally cool climate vineyard, located near Radian at the very western edge of the Sta. Rita Hills. Our blocks are located on steep, north facing slopes of poor, sandy loam soils and are regularly buffeted by high winds and fog, allowing for a long slow growing season. The cool climate gives wines of concentration and depth, but with great acidity, and complexity of fruit, spice and earth.  Wine Club only.

Our Tasting Note: This wine displays deep red fruit aromas (cherry, strawberry and cranberry) along with sea shell, wet stone and hints of fresh and dried herbs (bay leaf, anise) and smoky nori. On the palate the wine has incredibly silky texture in a medium bodied frame, with concentrated fresh red fruits (raspberry, strawberry), stones and fresh herbs. The wine has ripe, round acids and good tannic structure, providing citrus notes, lift and a long finish.

2013 Rosé, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara (Grenache 70%, Mourvèdre 25%, Syrah 5%)  ($22)

This wine is a southern French inspired blend of Grenache and Mourvedre, specially farmed for Rosé at the Vogelzang vineyard. We harvest these blocks in several cool night and early morning picks, and bring them straight to the winery where they are gently, whole cluster pressed over a long slow press cycle to provide just the right amount of skin contact while gently extracting maximum flavors. We added 5% Syrah, which had been bled off the Syrah fermenters, for additional complexity and body. 2013 was a terrific vintage for these grapes; the Mourvedre was picked at low sugars, giving a lean, citrus-tinged, energetic backbone to the more juicy and complex, wild red fruits of the Grenache. This wine has been a huge hit in the tasting room and in restaurants everywhere.  Indeed, we have to allocate this wine to our brokers, and even then they are always begging for more.  This wine will be in the April/May wine club shipment. The 2012 vintage of this wine received 90 points from Josh Raynolds in Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar and 91 points from Wine & Spirits.

Our Tasting Note: Beautiful light pink to copper color. On the nose, aromas of wild strawberry and raspberry, peach skin and blood orange, with a touch of pine and earth. On the palate, the wine delivers flavors of strawberry, raspberry, pear, nectarine, fuji apple and crenshaw melon, with acidity-inspired notes of orange peel and stony minerals. Light to medium bodied, but expressive and completely dry, the wine has a smooth velvety texture and a long, clean finish.

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2012 Grenache, John Sebastiano Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley ($40)

We are thrilled to offer our first ever single vineyard Grenache. John Sebastiano Vineyard is a dramatic hillside site on the border of the Sta. Rita hills and is one of the coolest sites planted to Rhone varietals in all of California. The Grenache grows on a steep, south facing hillside of almost pure sand on the eastern edge of the block and slightly heavier sandy clay loam toward the west and at the bottom of the block. Due to the cool western location and steep windy aspect, this block enjoys a long cool growing season, permitting long hang time and the opportunity to develop excellent aroma and flavor compounds at lower sugars, and with solid acidity. We pick this block in several different passes and ferment the grapes from each pick with differing percentages of whole clusters, based upon taste and stem character. The wines here are cool, energetic and mineral-laden, with high toned red and black fruits, with great aromatics. The 2012 vintage, as described above, was excellent.  A long season of warm to hot sunny days allowed the small berried Grenache to develop thicker skins, and deep, concentrated, complex flavors, while the cool nights helped the grapes retain critical acidity. This wine has great early appeal for its concentrated and sexy fruits and spices, but the backbone to age well over the medium term. Our 2011 Grenache (blended) received 91 points from Josh Raynolds in Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar.

Our Tasting Note: Deep, rich aromas of ripe strawberry, raspberry liqueur and sour cherry, with smoky notes of nori and camphor, along with herbal notes of dried thyme, bay leaf, and anise and baking spices such as cardamom and nutmeg. On the palate, the wine is medium bodied and silky, with waves of sexy red fruits (strawberry, raspberry, sour cherry cranberry) complicated by earth notes of forest floor and pine along with black tea and black olives.  The wine is lifted by energetic, citrus-laced (orange peel) acidity, while solid, yet ripe tannins provide structure for aging.

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* Packaging Note: Long time fans will note a change in packaging.  Beginning with the 2012 reds and 2013 whites, our white label wines and the Grenaches will not be waxed, but will be finished with a new logo cork.

Place your order for these small production wines at here, call us at 805-693-0077 or visit our tasting room at 2445 Alamo Pintado Rd in downtown Los Olivos.

Upcoming Events

A couple quick notes on new upcoming events.

Tuesday March 11, 2014 7:00 pm

Winemaker Dinner at Jackson’s Food + Drink

El Segundo, CA

Join us as we celebrate the launch of our new releases with a fantastic 5 course pairing menu crafted by Chef Scott and his team. Here’s a sample from the menu: Seared Duck Breast, Cherry Sauce, Fingerling Potatoes with 2012 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir… perfect pairing! Click here for details and reservations.

Friday March 14, 2014 7:00-11:00 pm

Simply Wine Festival at Four Seasons Hotel 

Westlake Village, CA 

This annual benefit is one of the most popular Wine Festivals in the Ventura County region and benefits the Make-a-Wish foundation chapter of the tri-counties. This year’s event is sponsored by Tesla Motors and will feature wines, tequilas, terrific food and top notch entertainment.  Go to for details. 

We look forward to seeing you soon,

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