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Sta. Rita Hills Wine Alliance
The Sta. Rita Hills American Viticulture Appellation is located on California’s Central Coast in Santa Barbara County. The Pacific Ocean’s marine layer and afternoon ocean breezes traverse the coastal valley corridors between the Purisima Hills and the Santa Rosa Hills, creating the perfect environment for growing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and other cool climate wine grape varieties.
About the Sta. Rita Hills Wine Alliance:
The Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance was formed in 1997 to unify growers and winemakers in the Western Santa Ynez Valley for the purpose of developing their own American Viticulture Area and to promote this unique wine growing region.
The Sta. Rita Hills AVA status was granted in 2001 by the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Regulation Division. The mission of the Alliance is to support the viticulture and enological business interests of its 47 Members, as they relate to grapes and wine from our AVA.
About our Community:
Inspired by the incredible potential offered within this wine region, a diverse group of talented growers and winemakers are producing some of California’s most exciting wines. When visiting our neighborhood you will enjoy relaxed hospitality, world class wines and world class personalities.
What are the critics saying about us?
Antonio Galloni on the Sta. Rita Hills
Turning right on Route 246 and heading north lie the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, starting with John Sebastiano, one of the most singular vineyards in the area. Pinot is planted within the part of the vineyard that is in the Sta. Rita Hills, while Rhone varieties are planted just outside of the boundary. Dierberg, Melville, Babcock, Turner, Clos Pepe, Kessler-Haak, Machado and Zotovich all yield wines of pedigree, as does Hilliard Bruce, just to the west.
Three fascinating clusters of vineyards are found on the other side of Route 246. The first of these centers around Sanford & Benedict. First planted in 1971, S&B is one of the most historic vineyards in Santa Barbara and still one of the very best. Sanford & Benedict is surrounded by La Encantada, La Rinconada and Fiddlestix, all of which produce deeply intriguing Pinot Noirs.
Standing in Sanford & Benedict, the strip of rugged, windswept mountain vineyards that starts at Sea Smoke and finishes at Cargasacchi is visible. The most interesting of these sites are Rita’s Crown, Mt. Carmel, Wenzlau, Fe Ciega and Sweeney Canyon. In my view, Sea Smoke belongs with the best vineyards in this sector because of its potential, even if much of that potential remains untapped.
Another interesting set of vineyards forms off Santa Rosa Road on the southern edge of the appellation. Late last year, Stan Kroenke, owner of Jonata and Screaming Eagle, purchased Rancho Salsipuedes, a 3,600 stretch of land that includes Puerta del Mar, Bentrock and Radian among its 200 acres of vineyards, yet another indication of the growing interest in the Sta. Rita Hills and its wines.
The last set of sites of note is found at the very western edge of the Sta. Rita Hills, where Domaine de la Côte has developed vineyards in what are considered some of the coldest, most marginal sites in the appellation. Pinot and Chardonnay struggle to ripen in these hillside sites. The true potential of these vineyards over the long term remains to be seen, although I do worry some of the sites might be too marginal. Time will tell.
“Today, I think it’s safe to say that Sta. Rita Hills stands as one of the greatest places in the New World to grow Pinot Noir…”
— Steve Heimhoff, Wine Enthusiast | Source
“The hottest area for Chardonnay, the Santa Rita Hills, is an appellation that came into existence only in 2001. Actually it’s not so much hot as it is cool, which gives these Chardonnays a crispness that’s missing from so many California chards.”
— Jay McInerney, Wall Street Journal | Source
“Based on last week’s tasting of 72 wines from this appellation, I am happy to report this region is definitely starting to fulfill its promise as a source of characterful, balanced and terroir-driven wines — from flavorful Chardonnay and Viognier to minerally and complex Pinot Noir and Syrah.”
— Richard Jennings, Huffington Post | Source
“Santa Rita Hills is still a new name for most wine lovers. But this appellation in Santa Barbara County is quickly making a name for itself courtesy of some delicious Pinot Noirs. ”
— James Laube, Wine Spectator | Source
“When historians look back on the emergence of Santa Barbara wine country, there’ll be special chapters for both the Sta. Rita Hills, which escalated the region’s reputation for world-class pinot noir and chardonnay, and the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, where many of those wines, as well as others from around the region, are made in a collaborative, think-tank-like setting.”
— Matt Kettman, Santa Barbara Independent | Source
“In addition to fantastic vineyards, this region boasts a star-studded lineup of producers.”
— Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate | Source