Cambria Estate Winery sits on storied land. Originally planted in 1971, and brought into the Jackson family by Jess Jackson and his wife Barbara Banke in 1986, Cambria’s land has been a premier producer of cool climate wines for more than 45 years. Situated on one of the only transverse valleys on the West Coast, Cambria’s vineyards are planted on the Santa Maria Bench where cool, sea air funnels in unobstructed from the nearby Pacific Ocean, blanketing the vines in maritime fog. With one of the longest growing seasons in California, the unique climate at the Estate produces “refrigerated sunshine” that develops concentrated flavors in the grapes making Cambria ideally situated for cultivating Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varietals.
Every Cambria wine produced is a single vineyard offering and certified sustainable. The two primary vineyards on the Estate are Julia’s and Katherine’s. Named for Jess and Barbara’s daughters, these vineyards are marked by depth of character, and a history of acclaim – most recently when Wine & Spirits named Cambria Winery one of the Top 100 Wineries of 2020. Each vineyard holds within it ancient soils that include 14 different soil types, while each block contributes different flavor and structural qualities to the wines. Additionally, the 17 clonal varietals on the property are a study in diversity. With a commitment to craftsmanship and artistry, winemaker Jill Russell and the tremendous winemaking and vineyard teams bring to life the legacy of the land through each wine.
Santa Maria Valley lies mainly in northern Santa Barbara County, with a small portion of it overlapping southern San Luis Obispo County. It is close to the Pacific, and runs east-west, which means warmer air in the eastern end draws cool air off the ocean in the west, and brings it through the valley. This effect, combined with abundant sunshine, lengthens the growing season. The longer growing season leads to long hang time, which promotes both ripeness and optimal acidity levels in grape berries. As early as the 1970’s, Santa Maria Valley was recognized as being a superior source of wine grapes, certainly including Chardonnay and Syrah. But arguably the top variety here is Pinot Noir.
Originally a domain primarily of growers, including the Miller Family of the justifiably famous Bien Nacido Vineyard, this AVA is now home to over 30 wineries. Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir consistently offers full flavors of cherry, strawberry and raspberry, often accompanied by notes of spice, cola, vanilla and earth. They show impressive balance and elegance, as well as great versatility with food.