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, whether an un-oaked Chardonnay, or a lightly oaked Pinot Noir. Starting with the bottlings in 2016, we ended our practice of filtering any of our wines -- think of that little bit of sediment as a great trade-off when you get a bottle full of rich and complex flavor.
We make estate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Starting with the 2019 vintage, we will also offer estate Cabernet, which we expect to be a savory expression of this varietal typical to the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. We also offer Zinfandel, Cabernet and Pinot Noir where we source grapes 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. $24 per bottle.
Expect a very small amount of sediment due to our practice of natural clearing.
Our 2016 Estate Pinot Noir
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
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.
2016 Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet
We sourced our 2016 Cabernet grapes from a very small vineyard known for award-winning Cabernets. The grapes were harvested at approximately 23 BRIX, punched down by hand in open fermenters and pressed gently using a basket press. The wine was aged in a new oak barrel for one year and stirred on its lees monthly for the entire aging process. The wine is un-fined and unfiltered with deep color and medium body. Tasting notes: Initial reductive aroma that dissipates with a few minutes. Earthy with carmel, toast and prune. The acids and tannins are firm. Good mouthfeel. Drinkable now and easy to pair with spicy foods and meat dishes. Recommended aging 5-10 years. $34 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.