The Sta. Rita Hills AVA in Santa Barbara County is one of California’s premier cool-climate AVAs. It is also one of California’s smaller AVAs with 99% of its territory falling within the larger Santa Ynez Valley AVA. Intersected by the Santa Ynez River, this picturesque region is located between the towns of Buellton and Lompoc in Santa Barbara County. The 52-acre Courtney’s Vineyard is a hillside property that features limestone-based soil and is a cool, coastally-influenced site. Climbing from 500 to 1,000 feet above sea level, this hilly site is treated as a series of individual micro-vineyards delineated by soil, exposure, elevation, grade, rootstock and clones. The well-draining soils and cool maritime climate make this a perfect spot for Chardonnay.
2016 was another in a string of terrific vintages in Santa Barbara. We had another early budbreak, and perfect weather during set, allowing for a strong, balanced crop. May, June and July were quite warm and ripening was fairly quick; however, an unseasonably cool August slowed the vines considerably. For the winemaker it was almost ideal, as the grapes were able to complete ripening slowly, without heat spikes, and the grapes maintained excellent acidity. Over a series of cool mornings, we picked each block at near- perfect ripeness and balance. The wines have great fruit character, excellent depth, with refreshing natural acidity.
The Sta. Rita Hills is one of the premier AVAs for Chardonnay in California and the wines have that rare combination of power and structure that can only be from low yielding, cool-climate, coastal vineyards. The cooler growing conditions result in a bright and juicy Chardonnay. Courtney’s Chardonnay combines opulence and structure. Prepare your palate for minerality, Asian pear, guava – balanced fruit and acid profile. This wine shows the clarity and structure typical of its cool climate origins, showcasing notes of florals, brioche, and lemon curd through to the palate. After harvest, the wine was fermented with native yeast in 25% new French oak barrels for 18 months. Pair it with grilled chicken, a light calamari appetizer or enjoy on its own.