We strive to make wines that express the beauty of this amazing place. We are inspired by the wines of Burgundy and the Northern Rhone, but want to make wines that recognize the uniqueness of this site. The cool climate and ocean breeze allow the grapes to ripen more slowly, developing rich, complex flavors while still retaining a bright natural acidity. There is a noticeable salinity, too, that further reminds one of the maritime environment that the wines come from. Finally, the varied terrain and soils, from the steep, rocky upper hillside to the gently rolling riverside blocks allow us to develop a lot of complexity and contrast within a relatively small area.
At harvest, we try to walk the line between capturing pleasing, ripe fruit flavors and keeping in touch with the subtle flavors and aromas that really make the site unique. We want to produce wines that express the fruit, the sun, the soil and, overall, have a feeling of depth, transparency, and inner calm. We want to make wines that will pair well with a meal, but that will also stand up to closer scrutiny — that can be rewarding on their own.
Family owned and organically farmed, Donnachadh Vineyard is located on Santa Rosa Road in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA of Santa Barbara County. The property is 285 acres with approximately 40 acres under vine. We grow Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah and a little bit of Gamay Noir.
The climate of the Santa Rita Hills is dominated by the Pacific Ocean, which lies about 9 miles from the vineyard. Morning fog cools the grapes and consistent afternoon ocean breezes keep heat from building up over the course of the day.
The vineyard consists of two main parts: the hillside blocks, and the riverside blocks. The riverside blocks sit alongside the Santa Ynez River. They are more sheltered from the wind than the hillside blocks and the soil is a delicate and well drained sandy loam that sits on top of deep layers of gravel river deposits. The hillside blocks are more exposed to the ocean winds. The soil there is derived from marine shale deposits and features more clay, rocks and cobbles than the riverside blocks. Overall, the hillside environment is quite challenging for the vines, limiting yields and producing grapes of exceptional character.
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