With grapes sourced from the best vineyards I can get my hands on, I produce food-friendly, structured wines that reflect the sites from which they originated. More importantly, I just want to create wines that make people smile.
Back in 2009, I wasn’t smiling a lot. The advertising agency I was working at had just imploded. I started freelancing, but it was a bad time for work in San Francisco. I had always dreamed about making wine, so one foggy morning in July, I decided to stop dreaming about it and do it for reals.
I contacted Roger Nicolas at RN Estate in Paso Robles and asked if I could intern with him. Roger makes beautiful wines, but I was equally enamored of his DEY (do everything yourself) approach to his business. For some reason, he bought my BS and took me on. That year, I helped in all phases of harvest, from vineyard work in the spring to pressing and barreling in the fall.
I came back to RNE in 2010, and made 24.5 cases of my inaugural Pinot Noir on the side. In 2011, I tripled my production and was promoted to Roger’s assistant winemaker. I made two different Pinots in 2012 and my very first Chardonnay in 2013. All from two of the most extraordinary vineyards in Santa Barbara County.
I can’t wait to share my wines with you.
Solomon Hills Vineyard is located about seven miles from the ocean just outside the city of Orcutt in Santa Barbara County. The maritime influence combined with ocean floor sandy loam soil results in wines with bright fruit, good balance, crisp acidity and what is known as "Santa Maria spice". The lively nose jumps out of the glass, revealing a tightly-knit profile of fresh cherries, strawberries, hazelnuts, spice cake, violet and rose petal. The smooth, silky, light-bodied mouthfeel delivers notes of firm red strawberry, raspberry and cherry mixed with dashes of currant, caramelized orange peel, saddle leather, vanilla and gingerbread cookies. Delicate tannins transition to a sparkle of acidity on the finish. Beware...this wine goes down a little too easy.
Sourced from the same incredible vineyard as my previous wines, the 2012 Fiddlestix Vineyard Pinot Noir is all Sta. Rita Hills. The nose features a rich combination of black cherries, fresh raspberries, wet forest, anisette and rose garden. The medium-bodied mouthfeel is firm, rich and round, reminding me of the texture of liquidized sour hard candy. On the palette, rich tones of sour dark cherries, red berries and plum mix with flourishes of sweet lemon rind, rhubarb pie, eastern spices and jasmine tea. The generous acid at the end carries a finish that goes on and on. This is a powerful wine that will improve with cellar age. If you just can't wait, decanting is recommended.
This is my very first Chardonnay and I made it about as simply as you can. That said, there’s nothing simple about this wine! Pressed directly into barrels, it went through both primary and secondary fermentation on its own. All in all, this was fermenting for 8-9 months non-stop. I just stirred the lees every two weeks and that was about it! It’s a total olfactory wine. The powerful nose contains hints of crisp pineapple, melty banana, green apple, vanilla bean, creme brulee and that classic marine-influenced Santa Maria je ne sais qois that is synonymous with the region. On the palette, the wine pays off the nose perfectly with an added twist of Meyer lemon and peach juice to boot. Full malolactic fermentation added a plushness up front, but there’s great acid on this wine that carries it through and builds to a nice crisp snap on the finish, which just goes on and on and on. Thine lips shalt smack!
I have really fallen in love with this vineyard. There’s this unmistakeable characteristic about wines made from this site that is uniquely Solomon Hills. In 2013, I added an extra clone to the mix which really gave this wine an extra level of complexity and balance. And it also made it a little addictive too. As always, the nose explodes right out of the glass, unleashing aromas of rich red berries, black licorice, sandalwood, fresh flowers, black tea with lemon and mushroomy earth. On the palette, I’m getting garden strawberries, bing cherries, spice cake, orange marmalade, tea and underlying wet forest floor. The wine has a beautiful light garnet color, which alludes to its medium-light bodied character and perfect balance. The wine starts off with a bright and showy mouthfeel, but morphs into something much more complex as an effervescent acidity takes over with a nice snap at the end. This wine lingers on the tongue 4 evah!
There’s a reason I started with this vineyard when I made my very first wine. Fiddlestix just seems to deliver something special every single year. Welcome to this year’s installment! On the nose there’s just-ripe strawberry, wild cherries jubilee, anisette, dark roses, cigar box and just a touch of leather. On the palette, the strawberries and wild cherries remain, joined by ripe currant, candied raspberry, caramelized vanilla, and crushed flowers. This is a lighter-bodied wine than the past couple vintages, but is still quite rich with a round, smooth, full-bodied mouthfeel that envelopes your palette which yields to a cascade of sparkling acid. The finish just seems to...well...never finish.