We experienced a slightly warmer growing season this year for the Pinot Noir grapes. The grapes were harvested and brought to our winery on September 10th and 12th, at moderate sugar levels. The grapes were 100% destemmed and fermented in small open top tanks, and punched down three to four times daily. After pressing off, and a short settling period in a tank, the wine was transferred to all French oak barrels, one third of which were new, to age for 11 months without any rackings. The wine was given a light fining with egg whites, and a light filtration prior to bottling in early September.
This wine is another wonderful example of Pinot Noir from this great vineyard. A moderate to slightly heavy crop did not diminish the strength and depth of flavor of this ready to drink vintage. Beautiful, forward, ripe aromatics characterize the nose, while on the palate the wine is rich, with plush yet powerful flavors. The wine has a silky mouthfeel, which seems to be a hallmark of our version of Pint Noir from this renowned vineyard. This wine will peak in about three to five years from now.
Richard Longoria Wines, established in 1982, is a family operated wine business owned by Rick and Diana Longoria. Rick Longoria, who arrived on the local wine scene in 1976, enjoys a long history of involvement in the Santa Barbara county wine industry. In 1976, he became the first cellar foreman for The Firestone Vineyard. By 1982, he felt confident in his skills and in the quality of some of the county's best vineyards to venture into the wine business for himself, and produced 500 cases of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Santa Maria valley vineyards.
In 1985, The Gainey Vineyard lured Rick away from J. Carey Cellars to produce wines for their ambitious and exciting new winery project. During his twelve years as winemaker, Rick's winemaking skills established Gainey as one of the top quality wineries in the area. He also continued to produce very small quantities of Longoria wines, just enough to keep the label active.
In December, 1997, twenty-three years after his first job at a winery and fifteen years after starting his own business, Rick gave up steady employment to devote his full energies to his winery business. On May 1, 1998, Rick and Diana opened the doors to their own tasting room in one of the oldest buildings in downtown Los Olivos. In December 1999, Rick moved his winery operation into his own 5,400 sq. foot building in Lompoc.
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California has nearly 100 American Viticulture Areas (AVAs) and accounts for almost 90% of wine production in the United States. In our section of Other California, we include wines from smaller AVAs as well as wines from the California AVA. Here are a few smaller AVAs you may see on the label:
Livermore Valley AVA
, located right outside of San Francisco and home to wineries such as Wente.
Lodi County AVA
, an AVA further east of San Francisco and known for its excellent, old-vine Zinfandels.
San Francisco Bay AVA
, a sprawling AVA that covers Contra Costa, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, to name a few.
Wine that holds only the California AVA is typically a wine that includes grapes from a number of different AVAs, which leads to the general labeling of the wine as California. This does not denote the quality of the wine, only the diversity of where the grapes originate.
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.