Experience The Hill
We make small batch wines with intense character from the legendary Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. Lovers of fine wines are rediscovering what the World found out back at the 1976 Judgement of Paris. In this historic wine contest, California wines were pitted against the best wines of France in a blind tasting by France's top critics. Two Santa Cruz Mountains wineries were among the top ten in both red and white wines. The French asked for a rematch and in a replicated contest in 2006, the results were the same and the Santa Cruz Mountains were again in the top ten.
Intense flavors and complexity in our wines are ensured by our steep hillside vineyard, maritime climate and our farming practices. At Griffin Hill, we respect the French practice of dry farming and our vines are clones brought directly from France. Dry farming ensures deep roots into our shale soils for maximum minerality and flavor. We then trust the fruit and use gentle, simple wine making processes to let the fruit, not the Winemaker, make the wine. The result is a subtle, complex, aromatic and balanced wine. Unlike the large producers, we don't use commercial yeast, enzymes, fining agents, filtering or any other ingredients we feel would impact the purity of our wines .
We make estate Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet. We also offer Zinfandel and Merlot made from grapes we sourced from some very small, very special hand-tended vineyards here in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Our 2016 Estate Pinot Noir - Library Wine
2016 was such a great vintage. We got abundant hang time with no heat spikes and the harvest was postponed until the end of September. The conditions were perfect for maximum flavor complexity. Fermentation and punch down was done by hand in an open top fermenter and pressed using a traditional basket press for gentle extraction of juice and tannins. Aging took place in an oak barrel, providing the benefits of oak tannins and unmatched micro oxygenation. The process yielded a full-bodied wine with graceful acids and tannins. The goal was met: a big and silky Pinot that is complex, creamy with lots of red fruit aroma. Fans of our sold out 2015 Pinot Noir will immediately recognize the flavor profile, and notice that the tannins are even silkier and the wine is ready to drink now. However, be sure to lay some down in your cellar for 2-4 years for maximum enjoyment. $50/bottle.
2016 Santa Cruz Mountains Zinfandel - Library Wine
We sourced our 2016 Zinfandel from two vineyards high in the Santa Cruz Mountains. They were selected for their precise vineyard practices and their south slope exposure. They were harvested at approximately 23.5 BRIX, punched down by hand in open fermenters and pressed gently using a basket press. They evolved nicely, aging in 50% new oak barrels for a year and stirred on their lees monthly for the entire aging process. The color and body are medium. Acids are firm and the tannins very much in the background, making it drinkable now and food -riendly. Tasting notes: Typical Zinfandel spiciness with sour cherry on the nose with Sage and dry herb in the background. Good mouthfeel. Drink now, but best in 5-10 years. There was no fining and no filtering of the wine. $32/bottles.
2017 Santa Cruz Mountains Estate Chardonnay
The 2017 Griffin Hill Chardonnay was designed from the beginning as a more hands-off effort to let the terrior, or sense of place of our vineyard, shine through. We did a cooler fermentation to preserve the flavors from the vineyard and we stopped the lees stirring (which has now become our signature!) to three months so that we would get the creaminess, but not so much yeastiness. More along the lines of a typical Burgundian Chardonnay, it has great complexity, balance, and wonderful green apple notes. Sold out.
2017 Santa Cruz Mountains Estate Pinot Noir
The 2017 Griffin Hill Pinot Noir follows the footsteps of the very successful prior vintages with a picking timed to show full varietal ripeness and enough acid to be a great pairing for cheeses, fish, poultry and vegetarian dishes. Even at its young age, it's showing a lot of aroma, complexity, notes of cherry, deep color, balance and silky tannins. You can drink now, but buy some to lay it down for a few years (or more-our Pinots age really well). $40/bottle.
2018 Santa Cruz Mountains
Sourced from Ormsby Trail, a very well-placed vineyard down south of us at 2600', this Cabernet has such a great balance of mild acid and easy tannins . It will entice you to drink it now. But make sure you lay some down to enjoy in the next 2-9 years, as it will really impress later. Deep color, lots of aroma and dark red fruit and minerality. $38/bottle.
2018 Griffin Hill Vineyards Estate Chardonnay
The 2018 growing season was long and mild. We allowed the vines to accumulate more canopy for more shade with an eye toward a more citrusy wine. We picked at moderately high ripeness and did a cooler fermentation of 65 degrees. We aged in neutral oak for 18 months and took it through MLF and stopped the lees stirring at three months. Fans of our '17 Chardonnay will find this wine familiar and a bit more delicate due to its cooler fermentation. This is a Burgundian style Chardonnay, it has a light straw color, great complexity, balance, with pineapple and green apple notes. $24/bottle.