Santa Barbara County

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Kick On? The owner of Kick On Ranch is an avid fox hunter. He was introduced to the sport in England and was so enthralled by the experience that he set up a full kennel with 50 or 60 dogs and a lovely French trainer on his ranch 9 miles west of the town of Los Alamos in Santa Barbara County. The hunters call out from their horses “kick on” when things aren’t going well, vocalizing that the party should carry on and persevere. I like that spirit and it’s certainly the attitude that has to be taken when growing pinot noir in this area.

In many ways the little Los Alamos valley is inhospitable for vines. Located between Point Sal and Point Conception, just before the California seashore takes a 90 degree turn to the east, this is one windy spot. For centuries mariners have been terrified by this stretch of the coast because of the funneling effect that the three river valleys (Santa Maria, Los Alamos and Santa Ynez) have on local meteorology. The same wind and fog that make ocean navigation difficult also makes it tough on vines. They struggle to grow in such cool conditions, the wind actually inhibiting vine vigor and messing with pollination. But what is bad for the vine is good for wine quality; cool conditions preserve the delicate fragrances that make pinot so special. And specifically here at Kick On the wine expresses its provenance with an earthiness and mineral quality that is beguiling.

Press Reviews

Antonio Galloni’s Vinous

“Bright red cherry, plum, sage, mint and tobacco are laced together in the 2012 Pinot Noir Kick on Ranch Vineyard. Supple, aromatic and highly expressive, the 2012 offers lovely up-front juiciness married to savory, floral notes that add complexity. There is a lot to like here. The 2012 was done with fully destemmed fruit and picked on the early side to preserve aromatics and acidity. The 2012 is soft and caressing, in the style of the year, but also exceptionally striking and bright in its purity. Tolmach and Castel captured the best the vintage had to offer here.”  -AG 93 Points

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

“The 2012 Pinot Noir Kick On Ranch shows a slightly savory feel, with notions of underbrush, ground herbs and earthy minerality slowing giving way to a core of ripe black cherry and darker berry-styled fruits. Made in a fresh, energetic and lively style, with crisp acidity and rocking focus and detail that comes through on the finish, it should drink nicely for another 5-7 years.” -JD 93 Points


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