Santa Maria Valley
Solomon Hills is the most coastal vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley, planted on the sandy slopes of ancient dunes just a few miles from the ocean. The soils here are poor, and the typically moist coastal weather in Spring further caps our yields. That, combined with the easier to ripen Dijon clones and the skin thickening abuse from fierce westerly winds, creates a vineyard with all the ingredients necessary to make some grand scaled Chardonnay.
There’s a certain kind of power to Solomon Hills Chardonnay that’s a whole different animal than the power of super ripe and oaky chards. There’s substance and impact, but not in the more typical thickly tropical fruity way. Here there’s thickness with a strong earthy tilt. Solomon Hills shows a land-meets-sea kind of mineral landscape, with a structured and gutsy feel that has it poised to age well.
Salty seashells, pine and blossoms take up center stage now, especially when after just pulling the cork. Some warmth near harvest coaxed out a riper profile, like our other 2017 Chardonnays, but probably least so here. Sweet lemon and juicy apple/pear emerges with some air, but still the wine is taut and earthy. While enchanting on its own, this wine becomes gorgeously complete when paired with creamy chicken dishes or steaky fish like Ventura white seabass.
Blend: 100% Chardonnay | Alc: 13.0% | Vinification: Barrel fermented in French Oak, 10% New | Barrel Aging: 11 Months | Total Production 287 Cases
Solomon Hills Vineyard is the most coastal vineyard up in cool foggy Santa Maria Valley. It’s also the sister vineyard to Bien Nacido, so it too is farmed with same doting attention to detail. The site consists of a series of gently rolling hills of sand next to Highway 101, at the western edge of the appellation. Being so close to the ocean, Solomon Hills is exceptionally cool and foggy in a region where that is the norm (the Miller family also grows blueberries here, which might give you an idea of the climate).
The marginal weather and the extremely poor sandy soils make low yields and intense fruit the name of the game. When the vines are flowering in spring the weather is often moist and cool, which makes it difficult to get good fruit set. And being planted on nutrient-poor sand means the berries and clusters stay quite small, which is great for making wines with vibrancy and character.
With these influences only Dijon clones make sense for the site, as these clones are better equipped to ripen in chilly vineyards where “California clones” like those at Bien Nacido might give under-stuffed and overly nervy wines. The Dijon fruit benefits from the cool, gradual ripening here. Our wines that come out of this vineyard are always radiant and bold offerings with lots to say, but also elegant and precisely balanced—just a joy to drink!
“Very bright and refreshing aromas of kaffir lime, lime blossoms ad lemongrass meet with gravel and strong chalk on the pinpoint nose of this bottling. There is great tactile energy to the sip, where a chalky structure carries lime pith and wet river stone flavors. it is very Chablis-like in style.” Matt Kettman – 94 Points