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From Dave Phinney
For many years, we’ve been coming down to the Santa Barbara region in search of the highest quality Pinot Noir in California. We’ve sourced fruit from across the county and have been introduced to special, well-known vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. We fell hard for the area and were lucky enough to find a diamond in the rough—an abandoned row crop farm on the western edge of the AVA. With barns full of coloring books, formidable pitbulls and chunks of diatomaceous earth protruding from the soil, we purchased the property in 2015. Over the first two years, we fed the soils with compost, gypsum, lime and nitrogen-fixing cover crop. With the renewed soil health, we planted our first set of vines at Our Lady of Guadalupe (OLG) in 2018, followed by subsequent plantings in 2019 and 2020.
After extensive tastings of Pinot Noir from California, we homed in on a favored style—blends of different clones, typical Dave Phinney. Nine different clones of Pinot Noir were planted across 127 acres, in addition to six acres of Old Wente Chardonnay—our favorite selection. Each clone was chosen to suit its specific site, where unique microclimates and soil impact each block differently. Strategically chosen rootstocks were paired with specific clones with quality being the only factor in mind. Rootstocks were chosen to match the soil composition, aspect, wind exposure, and ripening potential. All plant material aside from the Archery Summit 828 selection are Protocol 2010 certified. We went the extra mile in independently testing each selection, knowing we had one shot to start with clean material. Focused on highlighting clones, microclimates and soils, we planted OLG’s blocks purposefully, with fermenter size in mind. This is truly a winemaker’s vineyard.
Sta. Rita Hills is known for high-quality, low yielding vineyards, a result of cool temperatures at set, wind, fog and high water salinity. The West-East orientation of the valley allows for a unique impact of ocean air over the region. Wind and fog are plentiful on the western edge of the AVA, the former naturally decreasing disease pressure, and the latter, a natural form of irrigation. However, groundwater high in salinity was an obstacle that brought us to the Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California where a similar issue exists. Visits to various growers helped us develop a proprietary method of filtering our OLG groundwater that has led to significant improvements in vine health, which is reflected already in wine quality.