Sunday, May 20, 2012

A look at Rita's Crown and Radian Vineyards in Sta. Rita Hills

I went out Friday with Chris Bratcher of Bratcher Winery looking at some of his vineyard blocks in Sta. Rita Hills. It was an interesting check-in on the progress of the 2012 vintage here- one that based on my observation has had plenty of sunshine, moderate temperatures and no frost worries.

The first site was Rita's Crown Vineyard, which sits atop a ridge on the Santa Rita Hills side of the Santa Ynez River overlooking Mt. Carmel and Sea Smoke Vineyards. Located in the center of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA and planted to Dijon clones of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, it's a wind-swept and cold high-elevation vineyard with varying exposures. The soils are sandy and clay loam with diatomaceous earth.

The second site was Radian Vineyard, located in the Santa Rosa foothills in the far southwest of the AVA. It's also a very cool site, with flowering running behind the progress at Rita's Crown. Radian is a newer vineyard in the AVA, with vines at about five years old on average. The exposures vary and the soils are shale and clay loam. It's also planted to Dijon clones of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

It was a great look at two emerging cold-climate sites in Sta. Rita Hills.

Below are some photos of the day-

Driving up Rita's Crown past the old abandoned monastery

At the top of Rita's Crown

Flowering Chardonnay at Rita's Crown

Pinot Noir blocks on an extreme slope at Rita's Crown

Bratcher Chardonnay block at Rita's Crown

Leaving Rita's Crown- overlooking the monastery and Mt Carmel vineyard across the valley to Sanford and Benedict

Looking back at the extreme slope of Pinot Noir at Rita's Crown

On the way out, looking back at Sea Smoke Vineyard. Chardonnay is in the foreground and you can barely see Pinot Noir in the background slopes.

The obligatory shot of the Sea Smoke sign.

Bratcher Pinot Noir block at Radian- NE facing back toward Rita's Crown on the peaks in the far distance.

Flowering Pinot Noir at Radian.

Radian-looking west.


  1. Great post! I can't wait to get down there.

  2. Thanks Mike- let me know if you're ever headed down this way.