Ken Brown Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2015
This wine is a beautiful overview of the Sta. Rita Hills, combining Pinot Noir from across the temperature zones of the appellation. Rio Vista Vineyard represents the eastern end of the appellation where temperatures are slightly warmer. Further west are Sanford & Benedict and Rancho La Viña vineyards situated in the heart of Sta. Rita Hills’ cool Pinot Noir zone. Radian is the coldest vineyard in the appellation. Its location in the southwest corner of the AVA is unsheltered from direct exposure to cold winds and fog from the Pacific.
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Most of my career has been spent pursuing the elusive traits that make great Pinot Noir. From my early days at Zaca Mesa Winery to my 20-year tenure at Byron Vineyard to our small family operation at Ken Brown Wines, I have continued to experiment with clones, rootstocks, soils and winemaking techniques, exploring the tremendous potential for Pinot Noir in Santa Barbara County.
A superior source of California Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills is the coolest, westernmost sub-region of the larger Santa Ynez Valley appellation within Santa Barbara County. This relatively new AVA is unquestionably one to keep an eye on.
The climate of Sta. Rita Hills is a natural match for Chardonnay and Pinot noir, thanks to the crisp ocean breezes and well-drained, limestone-rich calcareous soil. Here, grapes ripen just enough, while retaining brisk acidity and harmonious balance.
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.”