Cambria Tepusquet Vineyard Viognier 2014
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 Central Coast wines like 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.
Full-figured and charmingly floral, Viognier is one of the most important white grapes of the northern Rhône where it is used both to produce single varietal wines and as an important blending grape. Look for great New World examples from California, Oregon, Washington and cooler parts of Australia. Somm Secret—Viognier plays a surprisingly important role in the red wines of Côte Rôtie in the northern Rhône. About 5% Viognier is typically co-fermented with the Syrah in order to stabilize the color, and as an added benefit, add a subtle perfume.