Pence Ranch Pinot Noir 2016
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
For most of my adult life, I have been obsessed with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. For many years, I travelled to France, and more specifically to Burgundy, trying to understand the making of what I believe to be the world’s greatest wines. Over time, I became friends with the vignerons there, learned of their respect for terroir, and their dedication to its primacy. I had the opportunity to drink the wines over and over again, from the barrel and the bottle, and observe how they were farmed and vinified.
BRINGING BURGUNDY TO SANTA BARBARA
Though I fell in love with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as expressed in Burgundy, I have no expectation, nor would I wish to, to produce a Burgundian wine. We are in the United States, after all, and one should hope that the vines grown in these soils are different from those grown in Burgundy. I believe, though, that given a few more decades, or perhaps centuries, we can achieve the same kind of brilliance in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay here in the United States as has been achieved in Burgundy.
UNWAVERING STANDARDS FOR WINEMAKING AND FARMING
Towards this end, my team and I have established the highest aspirations for our vineyard and our wine program. It is a purposeful endeavor, in that everything was done very deliberately and without regard to cost to achieve the highest level of quality in our wines. Our philosophy is a non-interventionist, site-driven one. If our wines express typicity, it has much more to do with our terroir and viticulture than with anything we have done in the cellar.
We strive for honesty and elegance in our wines, reflecting the beautiful landscape where our grapes are grown, the richness of the clay soils feeding their roots, and the abundant sunshine that provides life’s energy. The colors, aromas, and flavors in each bottle are the pure manifestation of our vineyard and our efforts to support it.
It is my sincere wish, and that of our team, that our wines transport you to another place; that they are representative not only of their varieties and the terroir of our site, but also of the profound mystery Mother Nature has to offer.
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.”