The Sta. Rita Hills AVA is an American Viticultural Area located in Santa Barbara County, California. From its creation in 2001 through 2006, the appellation was officially named Santa Rita Hills AVA. The name change was the result of a protest by Vina Santa Rita, a very large Chilean wine producer that was concerned about the AVA name diluting its international brand value. I’m glad everyone was satisfied, but the change seems rather subtle to me.
Sta. Rita Hills is part of the larger Santa Ynez Valley AVA, located between the towns of Lompoc and Buellton with the Purisima Hills on the north and the Santa Rosa Hills on the south. The hills run east to west, which allow fog and ocean breezes from the nearby Pacific Ocean to enter the valley and create a cool micro-climate. The Sta. Rita Hills area is well-suited for the growing of Pinot Noir grapes, which tend to do well in cool climates with rocky soil. The region is also known for Chardonnay and Syrah.
The first commercial vineyard in Santa Barbara County was established by Uriel Nielson in 1964. After years of working as a winemaker in Santa Barbara County, Ken Brown (Byron Kent Brown) released the first Byron Pinot Noir from grapes purchased from Neilson in 1984, making 7,600 cases. Brown recognized the Santa Maria Valley’s potential for wines in the Burgundian style, and was the first winemaker to introduce grape varieties such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Gamay to the area. Brown acquired the 118-acre Nielsen Vineyard in 1989 and built his winery there. Continue reading “Byron John Sebastiano Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016”