Established in 1999, Sea Smoke is a spectacular estate. Located in the Sta. Rita Hills appellation of Santa Barbara County, its site is unique because it lies in one of the only east-west coastal ranges in the United States. Flanked to the north by the Sta. Rita hills and to the south by the Santa Rosa hills and Santa Ynez range, the Santa Ynez River canyon acts as a funnel, each evening drawing a layer of marine fog from the Pacific ocean over the Sea Smoke estate. Located on south-facing hillside bluffs with elevations ranging from 350 to 750 feet, the vineyards receive day-long sun exposure, allowing optimum flavour and tannin development. But the marine fog (sea “smoke”) has a powerful cooling influence on the vines, allowing flavours and tannins to fully mature, while maintaining high levels of natural acidity. Sea Smoke is effectively a Monopole, neither buying nor selling grapes. The vineyards are planted with ten top-quality Pinot Noir clones (including 777, 667, 2a, 115, 113, 828, 05, 459, 09 and 16) grafted onto low-vigour rootstocks. Low yields and small bunches are also promoted by the shallow depth of the clay soils, by deficit irrigation and farming practices such as shoot thinning and green harvest. Farming is both organic and biodynamic (Demeter). From a winemaking perspective, after hand harvesting (at different times for different blocks), grapes are chilled overnight, pre-sorted, de-stemmed and then table-sorted. Every wine produced is made as a barrel selection, so each block and clone combination is kept separate throughout fermentation and ageing, until final blending. The combination of sun, fog, soil and meticulous farming results in wines that are rich and powerful in style, but also complex, elegant and expressive.
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