by Donald Sonderling – May 2016
Sta. Rita Hills: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and “Pinks” for Good Measure
The Sta. Rita Hills AVA, located about two hours north of Los Angeles in the stunning wine country of the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County, produces world class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the picturesque Central Coast area of California. With a total area of 30,720 acres, the area is home to over 59 vineyards, totaling 2,700 hundred acres planted to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and 18 other cool climate wine grape varieties.
Last month the Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance hosted their annual “road trip” at the Wine House in West Los Angeles, providing a unique “under one roof” opportunity to taste and compare a vast selection of wines from many of the areas wineries. Each of the wines were reflective of the myriad terroir and micro climates, and of course the individual expressions of the winemaker. James Suckling’s comment on the Sta. Rita Hills AVA Pinot Noir couldn’t be more apt: “I am in love with Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir. They are bold and rich wines, yet balanced and refined with wonderful freshness and length.” (Tasting Report: California’s Sta. Rita Hills).
Although Pinots and Chardonnays were the main focus of this event, Hitching Post was pouring their 2015 “Pinks,” a fun, vibrant dry rose blend of 30% Pinot Noir and 70% Valdiguie. As Hitching Post’s Gray Hartley describes this wine, “this Pinks exemplifies our attitude that we take our fun seriously.” Indeed, this is a fun, happy wine to pop open, especially on a warm spring or summer afternoon – it will put a smile on your face.
Several of the wineries represented are well known, such as Foxen Canyon, Fess Parker and Hitching Post. However, also represented was a significant number of small, boutique wineries, including: Kessler-Haak, Pali Wines, Flying Goat, Longoria, Clos Pepe, The Hilt, Crawford Family Wines, Montemar.
The wineries with tasting rooms are primarily located in Santa Barbara, Buelton, Los Olivos and in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto. Los Olivos, over the past several years has grown into a vibrant “Tasting Room Town” and is a wonderful way to easily explore over 40 different wineries from the area. The same can be said of Lompoc and the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, which is a unique industrial park with close to 20 tasting rooms. Having the opportunity to try so many wines from so many producers, (many of these wineries either have no tasting room, or their hours are very limited), made this a very special event.
A visit to any of these areas and wineries is a must for the wine enthusiast looking to experience wine that is truly an expression of place. A Taste of the Santa Rita Hills gave those in attendance an opportunity to do just that. A special “Thank You” to the Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance and The Wine House for hosting this event.
I’LL DRINK TO THAT!