By Ryan Smith
Testarossa Winery Certified Sommelier & Direct to Consumer Manager

On October 30th, we will be releasing wine from two spectacular Central Coast vineyards, Rosemary’s Vineyard in the Arroyo Grande Valley AVA and La Rinconada Vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills.

These vineyards have tended to fly under the radar as compared to some of the most well known sites in our portfolio. Please find below some information on these vineyard sites, their growing regions, and why you should care about these wines!

Rosemary’s Vineyard

Rosemary’s Vineyard is one of my personal favorite vineyard sites in our portfolio. Many of our club members are not extremely familiar with this vineyard, as we only started producing Pinot Noir in 2014 and Chardonnay in 2016. We receive very limited amounts of fruit- only two acres of Pinot Noir and 1 acre of Chardonnay per year.

 The Talley family has been farming in the Arroyo Grande Valley since 1948. While their original claim to fame was bell peppers and avocados, Talley Vineyards founders Don & Rosemary Talley planted their first grapes in 1982 after seeing the success of the nascent wine industry in nearby Edna Valley. Talley Vineyards is still family owned and operated, with Brian Talley leading the ship.

In 1987, this 29 acre vineyard was planted to Chardonnay (12 acres) and Pinot Noir (17 acres) on the site of an old avocado orchard. The vineyard surrounds Talley family matriarch Rosemary’s house (hence the name) and is the coolest vineyard site farmed by the Talley family. Numerous vintages of Talley’s Rosemary’s Pinot Noir have been served at the White House!

We started working with Talley Family farmed fruit in 2010, with our inaugural vintage of Rincon Vineyard Pinot Noir.

Rosemary’s Vineyard Terroir

This is a very unique vineyard site in an underappreciated AVA. The Arroyo Grande Valley AVA, only 16 miles long, is unique due to its east/northeast orientation, which allows the cool breeze of the Pacific Ocean to moderate the area’s climate. As the vineyard is only 6 miles from the ocean, lower elevation vineyards such as Rosemary’s (400ft) sit below the fog line, ensuring a long, cool growing season with extended hang times and excellent maturation for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Rob, Diana and I were recently at a lunch in the nearby Rincon Vineyard- while it was sunny and warm at 10am, by noon the temperature had fallen dramatically and rain was on the horizon. This is not an unusual weather pattern for the Arroyo Grande Valley.

A small section of the vines are planted on their own rootstock, which is extremely unusual for California vineyards. The soil type, known as Lopez Very Shaley Loam, is a shallow, very well drained soil type formed from hard diatomaceous shale (the fossilized remains of ancient marine organisms). What does this mean? The more well drained a vineyard’s soil, the harder the vines have to work to find moisture, meaning deeper root systems and more vine stress, which tends to result in more concentrated, densely flavored grapes. Similarly, the high level of nonorganic material in the soil results in nutrient poor, nonfertile soil, which also stresses the vines out and is known to contribute to concentration and flavor density as well.

Bottle and label for 2017 Rosemary's Vineyard Chardonnay 2017 Rosemary’s Vineyard Chardonnay

Clone: Clone 96
Vinification: pressed whole cluster; 100% barrel fermented sur lie
Barrel Aging: 18 months in 100% French oak, 35% new
Production Size: 11 barrels
Alcohol: 14.2%
pH: 3.07
Acidity: 7.85 g/L
Harvest Date: September 26th, 2017
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Score History:

  • 2017 Vintage- 92 points, Anthony Dias Blue (The SOMM Journal)
  • 2016 vintage- 93 points, Wine Enthusiast

Label and bottle for 2017 Rosenary's Pinot Noir2017 Rosemary’s Vineyard Pinot Noir

Clone: Dijon 667
Vinification: 100% destemmed, fermented in stainless steel
Barrel Aging: 18 months in 100% French oak, 67% new
Production Size: 6 barrels
Alcohol: 14.4%
pH: 3.22
Acidity: 7.56 g/L
Harvest Date: September 7th – September 22nd , 2017
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Score History:

  • 2017 Vintage- 93 points, Anthony Dias Blue (The SOMM Journal)
  • 2016 vintage- 93 points, Antonio Galloni’s Vinous
  • 2015 Vintage- 93 points, Wine Enthusiast
  • 2014 Vintage: 93 points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

La Rinconada Vineyard

This historic vineyard is perhaps overshadowed by its neighbor, Sanford & Benedict, generally considered the first vineyard planted to Burgundian varietals on the Central Coast and one of, if not the most, famous vineyard site in Santa Barbara county.

Located only ten miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, the La Rinconada Vineyard was planted by legendary grower Richard Sanford in 1995. The 436 acre ranch, known as Rancho Rinconada, was part of the 1839 Rancho Santa Rosa Land Grant, and has 130 acres under vine. 

From La Rinconada, you can see such heralded vineyard sites such as Sea Smoke, Fiddlestic, Rita’s Crown and Wenzlau.

We have been privileged to produce Chardonnay from the La Rinconada Vineyard since the 2012 vintage and Pinot Noir since the 2013 vintage.

La Rinconada Vineyard Terroir

La Rinconada shares many characteristics with its larger and more famous neighbor, Sanford & Benedict Vineyard, including its north/northwest exposure and shaley loam soil mixed with a large percentage of Chert, which is a hard, fine-grained sedimentary rock full of very small quartz crystals. Originating from a Miocene era (from about 23 to 5 million years ago) seabed deposit, these soils provide excellent drainage. As with most Santa Rita Hills AVA vineyards, a high level of diatomaceous earth permeates the entire vineyard.

The vineyard’s lower elevations consist of a riverbed deposit from the Santa Ynez River dating back to the Pleistocene era (from about 2.5 million to 12,000 years ago). Limited by a shallow water table and consisting of high proportions of sand, gravel and silt, this area of the vineyard is well suited to growing Chardonnay. 

La Rinconada Vineyard sits between Sanford & Benedict Vineyard and La Encantada Vineyard on the south side of Santa Rosa Road, just east of the city of Lompoc. Due to the extreme proximity to the ocean, the vineyard sees an extremely long and moderate growing season. Extremely thick fog often blankets the area, keeping temperatures and sun exposure down and ensuring extra hang time for concentrated fruit flavors and brisk acidity.

label and bottle 2017 La Rinconada Pinot Noir2017 La Rinconada Vineyard Pinot Noir

Clone: Mt. Eden, Dijon 777, Pommard 4
Vinification: 100% destemmed, fermented in stainless steel
Barrel Aging: 18 months in 100% French oak, 42% new
Production Size: 19 barrels
Alcohol: 14.4%
pH: 3.26
Acidity: 7.2 g/L
Harvest Date: September 7th – September 20th , 2017
Click here to purchase

Score History:

  • 2017 Vintage- 93 points, Anthony Dias Blue (The SOMM Journal)
  • 2016 vintage- 92 points, Wine Enthusiast
  • 2015 Vintage- 93 points, International Wine Review
  • 2014 Vintage- 93 points, Wine Spectator
  • 2013 Vintage- 93 points, International Wine Review