Happy Canyon, Santa Barbara CountySB

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Our 2015 sauvignon blanc comes from the vintage where the California drought had a huge impact on yield. It is thought that salt buildup in the soil from so many years of needed irrigation water to make up for rain caused the vines to suffer. While 2016 brought coastal fog as far inland as Ojai, 2015 was marked by warm Baja air masses that kept the fog offshore in Santa Barbara County. Years like this are the most challenging to make balanced and fresh wines, white wines in particular. So we prodded the vines into flowering early and harvested at a moderate ripeness, and were able to craft another beautiful sauvignon blanc that I’m quite proud of!

Per our usual regime for sauvignon blanc, we fermented and aged this wine in neutral French oak barrels with seven months spent on the lees. I like the zippy and twangy potential of this grape, so again in 2015 we harvested our sauvignon blanc early to capture freshness, and as always with this grape we blocked malolactic fermentation.

Depending on the vintage, McGinley provides a varying ratio of Loire-like herbal nerviness and rounder Bordeaux tropical fruit and fig. With time the 2015 will tilt more toward the latter. There’s an abundance of brightness with lemon pith, minerals and pretty white flowers showing at this more wound up stage, but with time the deeper, muskier layers of white guava and asian pear will come into prominence.

We recently poured the 2004 sauvignon blanc on our tasting room’s Library Flight, which was a similar vintage. After twelve years in bottle that wine has vibrancy, depth and shows nary a hint of fatigue! Get a case of this and save some for twelve years from now—I’m certain you’ll find the same!

Blend: 100% Sauvignon Blanc | Alc: 13.0% | Vinification: Barrel Fermented in Neutral French Oak | Barrel Aging: 7 Months | Total Production: 873 cases

Vineyard Notes:

Sauvignon blanc has been dear to my heart since my start as a winemaker. When I was studying at UC Davis in the mid 70s I’d often make a jaunt to Berkeley to browse the shelves at Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, and I’d often bring home northern Rhone syrahs and Loire sauvignon blancs to reflect on. Those bottles made indelible impressions during those formative years. So, a few years later when I planted my first vineyard in Ojai, I chose to plant syrah and sauvignon blanc.

I’ve been making sauvignon blanc from McGinley Vineyard since 1998 (back when it was called Westerly) and we’ve farmed the same two little blocks since. The site provides an exceptionally gorgeous example of the varietal, thanks largely to soils that would be abysmal for just about any other crop. In some sections the topsoil is as shallow as a foot and a half, with serpentine rock and fractured shale underneath. The wines from these poor soils are amazingly flavorful because the vines sense the scarcity of resources and, fearing death, direct all their energy toward maturing fruit rather than growing leaves (that way their genes may persevere).

I’ve been lucky to have connected with so many people who love our sauvignon blanc’s unique style. It’s a dazzling drink to pair with fresh cuisine—the folks at Chez Panisse have offered it on their wine list for years—I love it with oysters, or some good bread and goat cheese. As for aging, I begin to like our sauvignon blanc after a couple of years in bottle, though the 1998 is still drinking great, so this is a worthy white to exercise your cellar discipline!

Press Reviews

Antonio Galloni’s Vinous

“The 2015 Sauvignon Blanc McGinley Vineyard is pretty, delicate and nuanced. Orchard fruit and floral notes are nicely pushed forward. Low yields and an early harvest resulted in a fruity, supple Sauvignon Blanc with less in the way of greener, grassier varietal tones” – AG


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