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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. All of our wines are aged in French oak barrels.


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.

Closeup image of 2016 Pinot Noir bottle
2015 Pinot Noir - Library

2015 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 two year old French oak barrels, 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. $50/bottle.

Photo of bottle of 2017 Griffin Hill Zinfandel

2017 Santa Cruz Mountains Zinfandel

We sourced our 2017 Zinfandel from a small vineyard high in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  The vineyard was selected for their precise vineyard practices and their south slope exposure.  They were harvested at approximately 24 BRIX, punched down by hand in open fermenters and pressed gently using a basket press.  It evolved nicely, aging in 50% new oak barrels for a year and stirred on their lees monthly for the first three months of the 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 -friendly. 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/bottle.

Alcohol 13.6%

Closeup image of 2017 Pinot Noir 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.  it's showing a lot of aroma, complexity, notes of cherry and marzipan, ruby color, excellent balance and silky tannins.  Drink now. $40/bottle.


Alcohol 13.2%


2017 Santa Cruz Mountains
Cabernet Sauvignon

Sourced from Ormsby Trail, a very well-placed vineyard down south of us at 2600', this low-ish alcohol Cabernet has such a great balance of acid and 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, wet stone, cherry and plum aroma and dark red fruit, verging on candied cherry after exposure to oxygen, lots of minerality. $42/bottle.

Alcohol 13.7%


2019 Griffin Hill Vineyards Estate Chardonnay

We allowed  the vines to accumulate more canopy for more shade with an eye toward a more citrusy wine. We  picked at  an early  ripeness level for nice acid 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 and '18 Chardonnays 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 lemon, lime and  green apple notes. $28 bottle. Low alcohol.


Alcohol 12%

2021 Estate Chardonnay

2021 was a mild year and we kept the vine canopy a little larger to better preserve the natural acids in the grapes. We had beautiful fruit and zero mildew. The day we harvested, the fruit went onto a truck down the hill to our fellow Felton winery, Hallcrest Winery, owned and run by John Schumacher who is one of the best winemakers in the area and one of my mentors. We were about to move and couldn't commit to making the wine. We wanted to have wine from that fruit, not to sell it. John's touch on the wine really shows. It's a departure from my style and very elegant. It's creamy and has just a whiff of oak. $28 bottle

2018 Merlot

We made this merlot from grapes we purchased from the vineyard next door. We like Merlot and had been looking forward to making it. It turned out to be an easy wine to make but the tannins were a little too "in your face" for years. We aged it for two years in French oak and left it in bottle for three more years before recently deciding that it was ready. It's drinking nicely now and has tons of complexity and acids which make it very food-friendly. The flavors are typical red fruit; plummy and red cherry. $36 bottle. Drink now, or cellar it for 3-5 years. ABV 13.44

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