"A tribute to Cambria's consistent style and character, 2001 Katherine's Chardonnay is a lush, well-rounded wine revealing vibrant tropical flavors folded over hints of vanilla and pear. The finish is enduring, made memorable by notes of vanilla and oak spice." -Fred Holloway, Winemaker
Katherine's Chardonnay is hand-harvested from the 1,405-acre, family-owned Cambria estate. As expected from the consistency of Cambria's fruit, this vintage speaks boldly of Santa Maria Valley's ideal climate and vineyard conditions for growing Chardonnay. Formed from alluvial deposits of the Sisquoc River, Cambria's soil is gravelly and exceptionally well draining—restricting vine vigor to promote the growth of Chardonnay with lush, concentrated flavors. The maritime influences that funnel in from the Pacific Ocean, cloak the Santa Maria Valley in mild temperatures, extending the vineyard's growing season to provide ample time to balance the fruit's acid profile and develop optimal varietal characteristics.
In the vineyard, the development of Katherine's fruit sets the stage for our winemaking process and lays the foundation for flavor and quality. Cambria's vineyard management techniques, such as leaf thinning, allow more sunlight on the clusters for full, even ripening and evolution of concentrated character. In addition, irrigation is minimized to restrict vine vigor and focus the vine's energy on the grapes. Also, underdeveloped fruit is taken off the vines at verasion to promote the growth of densely flavored clusters. Together, these techniques ensure maximum quality in the Chardonnay before beginning the winemaking process.
At harvest, Katherine's Chardonnay grapes were gently whole-cluster pressed to capture the fresh flavors while avoiding any harsh tannins. Primary and secondary fermentation took place in French oak barrels to enhance oak spice integration. To heighten and balance the lush texture in the mid-palate and fruitful flavor profile, the wine was aged sur lies for a period of eight months before bottling.
Cambria is a private, family-owned estate winery that has carved out a reputation for producing lush, tropical Chardonnay, velvety-textured Pinot noir and rich, spicy Syrah since its inception in 1987. Cambria's proximity to the ocean and east-west orientation gives this 1,400-acre property the diversity it needs to grow Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah under perfectly suited conditions. As an estate property, Cambria's Vineyard Manager and Winemaker work in tandem to perfect the winegrowing process. Together, they select only the finest grapes from the estate to bear the Cambria name. Every grape is hand-harvested and crafted into wine with the utmost care and respect foe the varietal.
In recent years, Cambria has concentrated its vineyard and winemaking resources into amplifying different aspects of the Cambria estate. This effort launched an in-depth exploration of the vineyard and varieties on this cool-climate property. The result has elevated the quality of Cambria's core wines, created new site-focused and distinct winemaking styles, and dramatically highlighted the bold flavors of each variety. Today, the flagship wines, making up 90% of the production, include Katherine's Chardonnay, Julia's Pinot Noir and Tepusquet Syrah. Each wine represents the broad definition of flavor, for that variety, on the estate.
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Situated near the ocean in the larger Santa Barbara district, the Santa Maria Valley appellation runs east to west. Pacific Ocean air funnels in to cool the vineyards, allowing the grapes to evenly ripen and reach their full potential. This unique climate paired with the region's well-drained soils helps create some sought-after grapes.
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the most planted varieties in the AVA, which covers over 7,000 acres of land. Syrah is gaining more ground as it consistantly produces outstanding wines. Many vineyards are owned by growers and sold to wineries, so seeing a vineyard name on multiple producer's bottles is common. One of the better known vineyards, Bien Nacido, is found on the labels of some of the most prestigious wines of the area.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.