2021 Late Spring Release

Greetings from Dragonette Cellars
New 2019 Pinot Noir Releases – Radian Vineyard and Sta. Rita Hills Blend

We are excited to announce the release of two fantastic 2019 Pinot Noirs: the multi-vineyard Sta. Rita Hills blend, and the always anticipated, single vineyard wine from the steep, dramatic, Radian Vineyard. These wines are always made in small quantities, but with 2019 being a shorter year, the volumes are even less than normal, and we suspect that they will both sell out even quicker than usual. Wine Club members are guaranteed their base allocation, but we cannot guarantee any more than that will be available in October at shipment time. We suggest planning purchases accordingly.

The 2019 Vintage

2019 was a classic cool-climate year in the Sta. Rita Hills. The winter was cold and wet, with the largest rainfall we had seen in many years, as much as 20 inches in some places.  The rain helped cleanse vineyard soils and provided a good profile of soil moisture for the early season. Spring was cool, with budbreak delayed until late March, and this helped reduce vigor. Cool weather and windy conditions around bloom resulted in an extended flowering, which resulted in an uneven crop set in Pinot Noir. June was warm, but July and early August were generally cooler allowing maturity without excess heat. Late August introduced significant heat, quickening the ripening of the Pinot Noir. We performed a significant green drop (removing underripe clusters) about a month before harvest, but the remaining crop was perfectly ripe with great acidity from the cool year. We picked at daybreak during the cold mornings throughout September and were extremely pleased with the resulting wines, which show terrific concentration from the long season, but also excellent lift from very present natural acidity. We think the 2019s are some of the most complete Pinot Noirs we have made, and we believe they will drink well young but also continue to age for 10-15 years.

The Wines

Pinot Noir2019 Pinot Noir, Radian Vineyard 
Radian is always one of the most anticipated wines we make, and it is one of the quickest to sell out every year. Thus, we spend the Winter and Spring carefully tasting and counting the days until the wine is ready for release (meaning already delicious, though with many, many years still ahead of it). We are thrilled to announce that the time is now.

As we have discussed before, Radian is one of the most magical places in which grapes are grown in all of Santa Barbara. The vineyard is otherworldly, at once steep and foreboding, but also wildly dramatic and beautiful, with forever views of the ocean in one direction, and the majority of the Santa Rosa Road corridor in the other. Soils include clay and sandy and loam, banded chert, with localized, sometimes very thick deposits of diatomaceous earth and are very poor, allowing only meager vegetative growth. Moreover, the fierce winds up in the upper blocks we farm (600-800+ feet above sea level) also reduce set and limit yields. Indeed, these vines in 2019 produced an average of around 2 tons per acre of tiny clusters with thick skins and little juice (see the pictures above). The grapes were mostly destemmed and then fermented on native yeasts, and the wine then aged on its lees for 18 months in French oak cooperage (35% new) before bottling without filtration.     

The 2019 Radian Pinot Noir is deep and complex as usual, with a dark red fruit profile (some black cherries and red plums, with raspberry liqueur, pomegranate) with leafy rhubarb and forest floor notes, a streak of granite and minerals, and a good solid backbone of herb-edged, but round tannins. The wine has the loveliest velvety texture, with no hard edges, and yet it finishes with great energy as citrus-laced acids refresh the palate and demand another sip. The 2019 is a little more brash and effusive than the billowy 2018, but fresher and juicier than the more muscular and reserved 2017. We think it might be one of the best ever from this remarkable site. 

Extremely Limited. This wine was made in tiny quantities (400 cases), most of which will go to the Wine Club in October.  We will have a small portion available for sale now. We suggest you get yours very soon or risk missing out!   

2019 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills 

An appellation blend in name only, this wine is crafted from several of the finest vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills, including Bentrock (30%), Radian (15%), Sanford & Benedict (15%), Fiddlestix (10%), La Rinconada (10%), Spear (10%), John Sebastiano (5%), and Duvarita (5%). Each of the blocks we farm in these Pinot Noir vineyards is individually managed to ensure the highest quality fruit at harvest time, the dates for which are selected after multiple, often daily visits to the vineyards, meticulous sampling and extensive tasting.  We ferment each block with native yeasts, and then separately barrel each lot into the finest French oak cooperage, 10 percent of which is new. The wines are aged on their lees for 15 months, and then blended and bottled without filtration.

With this careful attention to detail throughout the season and in the cellar, the wines display great depth and concentration, with beautiful texture from lees aging and minimal handling. For the Sta. Rita Hills appellation blend, we select wines for their complexity, bright expression, cheery personality, and food friendliness.

The 2019 has begun drinking very well, right out of the gate, with super complex red and blue fruits, a touch of minerals, baking spices, fresh herbs and forest floor, along with great natural acidity. The wine is perhaps a bit more dense than the fresh, inviting 2018, but it is also layered and juicy with fantastic fruit that echoes on the long finish. Although young, the wine’s great freshness and lift provides delicious drinking already, with 8-10 years of aging potential as well. Only 550 cases of this wine were produced in 2019, and we expect this wine to be snapped up much faster than in past years.


Shipping Notes

As we enter the warmer months, shipping becomes a little more difficult, particularly outside the West Coast, but we do have better and better options. Aside from finding careful weather windows (no one will protect your wine more carefully than Dragonette Cellars!) we also have the ability to arrange for Cold Chain Shipping to ensure your wine safely arrives to the rest of the country in the warmer months. Cold Chain shipping uses specifically timed shipments through refrigerated trucks to hubs across the country, and then next day AM delivery from those hubs.  Pricing can be close to the pricing of straight ground shipping, depending upon your distance from a hub. For example, a case to wine to New York, which would be roughly $40 dollars ground, can be around $55. Dragonette Cellars probably has as much experience with cold chain shipping as anyone in Santa Barbara, so feel free to call and discuss shipping options for your wines.  We will figure out a way to get your wines to you wherever you are. 

In Conclusion

As always, we appreciate your support! It has been an honor to make wines for you, and we have enjoyed all the positive reactions, the great press and especially the smiles. We will continue to do everything we can to make the best wine possible from these amazing sites in magical Santa Barbara County.

We look forward to seeing you in the Tasting Room, or at the Winery in Buellton, soon. We are taking reservations for limited spots, and Los Olivos has been bustling, so be sure to plan ahead. CheersJohn, Steve, Brandon and the entire Dragonette Cellars team