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.
The 2016 Estate Chardonnay
We wanted to make a "big" Chardonnay in 2016 and I have to say Mission Accomplished! We picked at full ripeness, used a crusher and basket press to get the most phenolic flavor compounds out of the skins. We allowed the ferment to get to 85 degrees which got us some tropical flavor, versus the citrusy-ness of cold fermented Chards. It was stirred on the lees for nine months to smooth it out and get some of that awesome yeastiness that great Champagnes are known for. The wine was naturally cleared using settling and racking with just a whiff of natural Bentonite clay and filter before bottling. The result is an unusually complex and elegant Chardonnay with a lot of minerality, which is typical of the Santa Cruz Mountains. It has great structure and mouthfeel. Background flavors are apricot and pineapple. If you're usually a red wine-only person, try this one. You'll change your mind. Clearance priced at $12 per bottle.
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 about 5 years + for maximum enjoyment. $50 per 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. You may experience some small amount of harmless sediment. $32 per bottle.
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. $24 per bottle.
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 per bottle.
2018 Santa Cruz Mountains
Sourced from a 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.
$38 per bottle.
2018 Santa Cruz Mountains
Made from fruit we sourced from our neighbor at Zayante Vineyard. The tannins are silky and the acid moderate. The color is deep ruby. This is a great sipping and dinner wine. The aroma is ample and complex. Notes of Marzipan, sour cherry. Rich and very Cabernet-like.
$34 per bottle.