Bien Nacido Vineyard was planted by the Miller family in 1973, amidst the first wave of Santa Barbara County vineyard plantings, out in the eastern part of Santa Maria Valley where the foothills rise out of the coastal flood plain. It’s a site with an impeccable climate for gently ripening both Rhone and Burgundian varietals, graced both by warm sun and cool, fog laced ocean breezes. And there’s an array of great soil types for winemaking.
I’ve been working with this site since 1988, sourcing chardonnay, pinot noir, syrah, and most recently, roussanne. Our grapes are purchased not through tonnage contracts, where you get what has been grown for you, but instead through more hands-on long-term acreage contracts, which allow us to farm the fruit to our liking and maintain the same rows from year to year (or decade to decade, as is the case at Bien Nacido). Because of this we’ve become intimately acquainted with our blocks and have figured out how to get intensely flavored fruit at relatively moderate levels of sugar ripeness. While talented vineyard manager Chris Hammell probably needs no advice, he has been very patient and diligent with accommodating my exacting requests.