I created Fiddlehead (my Winery) to focus on Pinot Noir and the place it is grown is essential to the personality of the brand. Fiddlehead is all about sense of place. So after my early vineyard source - Sierra Madre - sold in the mid 90’s, and there was little Pinot Noir to be had from Santa Barbara County (and even less that was the top quality that I demanded for Fiddlehead), I knew the only way I could progress my commitment to Pinot Noir was to invest in the development of bare ground.
I tasted my way through a myriad of Pinot Noir districts and was impressed by just how delicious some of those old Sanford and Benedict wines tasted. I was challenged to invest in a little known, cool-climate district and my search for land turned to what was then known as “the western, cool climate district of the Santa Ynez Valley”, and more specifically the Santa Rosa Road corridor, where clay-based soils make their home.
In my time here, I have come to admire what makes the Sta. Rita Hills special. Here are a few reasons which I believe make the Sta. Rita Hills area so unique:
It is the only wine valley on the West Coast that has an east/west transverse orientation, meaning the valley between the mountains where we are located runs perpendicular to the Pacific Ocean. This means that the Santa Rita Hills are uniquely susceptible to the ocean's cooling influence; enabling diurnal ocean breezes direct access to the coastal valleys between the Purisima Hills and the Santa Rosa Hills. It is this unique characteristic that makes the climate ideal for growing Pinot noir grapes.
I cherish the clay-loam, botella series soils for their influece in imparting spicey layered qualities to the aromatics and palate. These marine based soils are loaded with Chert and Monterey shale; they are well drained and not overly fertile. All of these details lend themselves to a most complex and enticing wine.
The Sta. Rita Hills region is also repected for its agricultural diversity. Not only is it known for its specialty, high end Pinot noir and Chardonnay producers, but it is also the home to crops such as lettuces, tomatoes, beans, walnuts, hops, just to name a few.
We’re dedicated to sustainable farming practices. Fiddlestix is proud of its SIP (Sustainable in Practice) Certification. This distinction recognizes our commitment to responsible farming, to protection of the land, to education of our labor force, all of which lend themselves to making fabulous wine.
More fun facts…
√ Sta. Rita Hills AVA is in Northern Santa Barbara County, California, USA.
√ Sta. Rita Hills AVA lies between Buellton and Lompoc CA.
√ 100 square acres of hillside land, one of the smallest AVA's in California.
√ 99% of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA lies within the existing Santa Ynez Valley AVA, on the far western end. Although independent, Sta. Rita Hills AVA can be considered the Western sub-appellation of Santa Ynez Valley.
√ Boundaries were established by winemakers and winegrowers in the area, marking maps on foot and in
4x4 trucks. The boundaries were chosen specifically for viticultural viability and for the highest quality
Pinot Noir winegrape production.
√ Approximately 2877 acres planted, mostly Pinot Noir with Chardonnay, small amounts of Syrah, Pinot Blanc,
Pinot Gris, Gewurtztraminer, Riesling and other varietals.
√ Petition to establish Sta. Rita Hills was drafted and submitted in 1997, approved in 2001.
Fiddlehead purchased the land for Fiddlestix in 1996.
In celebration of this unique region, the Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance is hosting their annual Wine and Fire Weekend showcasing the accomplished wines and producers on August 15-17, 2014.
Love the place, but hate the crowds? That’s alright! Join us for our “Super Pinot Sunday” open house at our Winery & Tasting Room in the “Lompoc Wine Ghetto” on August 17th. It’s a rare chance to taste our entire Pinot line-up and a unique opportunity to catch up with me before we’re in the thick of harvest! For tickets and more information, visit us HERE.