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.
Responsible for the vast majority of American wine production, if California were a country, it would be the world’s fourth largest wine-producing nation. The state’s diverse terrain and microclimates allow for an incredible range of red wine styles, and unlike tradition-bound Europe, experimentation is more than welcome here. California wineries range from tiny, family-owned boutiques to massive corporations, and price and production are equally varied. Plenty of inexpensive bulk wine is made in the Central Valley area, while Napa Valley is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious and expensive “cult” wines.
Each American Viticultural Area (AVA) and sub-AVA of has its own distinct personality, allowing California to produce red wine of every fashion: from bone dry to unctuously sweet, still to sparkling, light and fresh to rich and full-bodied. In the Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc dominate vineyard acreage. Sonoma County is best known for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rosé and Zinfandel. The Central Coast has carved out a niche with Rhône Blends based on Grenache and Syrah, while Mendocino has found success with cool climate varieties such as Pinot noir, Riesling and Gewürztraminer. With all the diversity that California wine has to offer, any wine lover will find something to get excited about here.
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.