Santa Rita Hills
The Santa Rita Hills area is quite similar in climate to the Santa Maria Valley, yet in general the wines couldn’t be more different. Since the first one I worked on, a 1987 pinot from Sanford and Benedict Vineyard, I have noticed that the wines are more tannic, less herbal, and often possess a deep grapey-ness that is strikingly different than Santa Maria’s higher cherry-like fruit. While Perhaps less sexy than Santa Maria fruit, there is darkness and depth to the best Santa Rita pinots. Like our first two Clos Pepe’s, this one possesses a really distinctive character that doesn’t say “I am California pinot noir”–and that is a good thing! There is something noble and right about the aroma of this wine that I just love. The fruit is so different that the making of both the chardonnay and pinot noir from this vineyard have been a real challenge, but with the 2002 vintage, I feel that I am finally firing on all four cylinders and am very happy with the results.