Cambria Julia's Vineyard Pinot Noir 2001
- Fred Holloway, Winemaker
Julia's is hand-harvested from a 235-acre Pinot Noir vineyard in the coolest section of the, 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 Pinot Noir. 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 Pinot Noir with concentrated and intense 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 character.
In the vineyard, development of mature flavors lays the foundation for flavor and quality and sets the stage for winemaking. This year, Mother Nature provided us with excellent conditions for the development of distinct, rich Pinot Noir. The vineyard management team was innately aware of the quality throughout the season and carefully managed the growth of this superb crop through meticulous management techniques. Leaf thinning allowed more sunlight on the clusters for full, even ripening. Irrigation was minimized to restrict vine vigor and focus the vine's energy on the development of concentrated flavors. Any underdeveloped fruit was taken off the vines at verasion to promote the growth of densely flavored clusters. The resulting Pinot Noir crop was superb quality.
Individual lots of Pinot Noir were hand-harvested into small, open-top fermenting bins. A cold pre-soak and frequent punch-downs maximized the extraction of flavor and color from the skins. After fermentation, the Pinot Noir was racked into medium-plus toasted French oak, for ten months, to balance the velvety tannins and round out the mid-palate.
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.
A lesser-known but elite AVA within the larger Santa Barbara district, the Santa Maria Valley AVA runs precisely west to east starting near the coast. The valley funnels cool, Pacific Ocean air to the vineyards more inland, allowing grapes a longer hang time to ripen evenly and achieve their full potential by harvest time. Combined with minimal rainfall, consistent warm sunshine, and well-drained soils, it is an ideal environment for grape growing.
Many of the wineries here are small and highly respected, having established a reputation in the 1970s and 80s for producing excellent Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. More recently, Syrah has also proven quite successful in the region. Many vineyards are owned by growers who sell their grapes to other wineries, so it is common to see the same vineyard name on bottlings from different wineries. Bien Nacido Vineyard is perhaps the best-known and most prestigious.
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”