Star Lane Vineyard Merlot 2011
Blend:76% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Franc, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon
Founded in 1996, Star Lane Vineyard was birthed from a 250-year vision instigated by the Dierberg family. Ten years into patient exploration for land to sustainably cultivate world class Bordeaux varietals, founders Jim and Mary eschewed the common path and saw unrealized potential in the Happy Canyon area of Santa Barbara County. Now in our second of 10-generation plan, we carry on a legacy of sustaining land through crafting high quality wine.
Since the early 19th century most of the acreage has been grazed to provide beef for local populations. This continues today and Star Lane Vineyard offers a slice of “old California” with ancient oak trees, pines, coastal chaparral, and numerous native plants. The Dierberg family planted east facing slopes in well drained silty-loam soils of various cobble content from magnesium rich serpentine to calcium/silica rich chert. Ranging from 750 to 1500 feet above sea level, it is one of the highest elevation vineyards in all of Santa Barbara County. The natural low vigor of the vines is excellent for developing flavors and depth in the wines while preserving freshness at reasonable potential alcohol levels.
In 2013 President and Winemaker Tyler Thomas joined the team to further drive discovery of the property through wine cultivation. Our focus is on small lot fermentations, minimally handled, to help discover the inherent nature of this varied property. “Great wine is discovered, not made,” Thomas noted, “and the goal of the winery is to serve the vineyard and overall sustainability of the property.”
By leveraging control over all our farming, a state-of-the-art facility, and simple winemaking designed to usher the fruit to the bottle, we produce numerous bottlings of certified sustainable Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah from Star Lane Vineyard.
Ranging from cool and foggy in the west to warm and dry in the east, the Santa Ynez Valley is a climatically diverse growing area. The most expansive AVA within the larger Santa Barbara County region, Santa Ynez is also home to a wide variety of soil types and geographical features. The appellation is further divided into four distinct sub-AVAs—Sta. Rita Hills, Ballard Canyon, Los Olivos District and Happy Canyon—each with its own defining characteristics.
A wide selection of grapes is planted here—more than sixty different varieties, and counting. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir dominate in the chilly west, while Zinfandel, Rhône blends, and Bordeaux blends rule the arid east. Syrah is successful at both ends of the valley, with a lean and peppery, Old-World sensibility closer to the coast and lush berry fruit further inland.
With generous fruit and supple tannins, Merlot is made in a range of styles from everyday-drinking to world-renowned and age-worthy. Merlot is the dominant variety in the wines from Bordeaux’s Right Bank regions of St. Emilion and Pomerol, where it is often blended with Cabernet Franc to spectacular result. Merlot also frequently shines on its own, particularly in California’s Napa Valley. Somm Secret—As much as Miles derided the variety in the 2004 film, Sideways, his prized 1961 Château Cheval Blanc is actually a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.