The soils at On Ranch are composed primarily of ocean floor sandy loams. Because it is the most westerly vineyard in the area, it is perhaps the most maritime of all vineyards in this growing region. With the Pacific coastline only miles away, a constant maritime influence results in wines of crisp acidity, bright fruit and an inherent balance.
We made single vineyard Pinot Noir from 2009 to 2016, and continue to produce dry Riesling along with a Riesling dessert wine.
The ranch was used once used only for cattle grazing before being planted to vines. This vineyard was planted in 1991 by Bob Stevens to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Some are on rootstock, some on their own roots. Steve Lyons bought the vineyard in 2007 and expanded the acreage by one third to 108 acres. Now it has Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir and a new planting of Gruner Veltliner.
Soils are marine-based, and can be variously described as sandy, sandy loams, clay loam, shaley loam, loam or shaley clay loam. Numerous series of soils exist, but the most common are the Chamise soils, which are, typically, well-drained and rest above deep gravelly beds of silt, clay and sand. The other soil series that is widely found is the Elder series. These originated from alluvium deposits derived from sandstone. The Elder series occurs on alluvial fans and in flood plains. Most of the soils in which vineyards are planted are considered to be of low or moderate vigor. They purposely stress the vines somewhat, resulting in grapes of greater flavor and concentration. While the yields tend to be low to moderate, the concentration and extraction of the grape materials tends to be intense and quality-driven.
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.