The Sideways movie wine trip continues down the windy Santa Rosa Road about six miles outside of Buellton. Fields of vines line the country road, dotted with a few farm houses, a few fruit stands…a few tractors pull out in front of you. Not a whole lot happening….
Welcome to the Santa Rita Hills American Viticultural Area (AVA), home to the finest Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays in the Central Coast Wine Country! The Santa Rita Hills AVA was established by the Bureau of American Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms as a sub wine growing area of the greater Santa Ynez AVA.
What makes the Santa Rita Hills AVA so special is the proximity to the ocean (approximately five miles) and the position between the east and west mountain ranges of the Purisima Hills and the Santa Rosa Hills, which in effect, extend the growing season with the ebb and flow of the coastal fog combined with the sunny inland heat.
It’s unlikely that you will encounter busloads of rebel rousing wine groups here, which is one of the reasons I love Lafond Winery and Vineyards! It is so serene and peaceful sitting on the picnic benches, looking out over the valley that you’ll want to linger with a glass of wine, or two.
Six wines are available on the tasting menu–all of which are fantastic! Not a sweet wine drinker, I was hesitant to try the 2011 (SRH) Santa Rita Hills Riesling. It was anything but sweet ~ a crisp dry Riesling, delightful for a warm summer afternoon. the 2010 Lafond Vineyard Chardonnay was also crisp, on the lighter side and citrusy. My favorite, of course, was the flagship 2009 Lafond Vineyard Pinot Noir, a Martin Ray clone (aka the Doctor of Pinot Noir), which showed lots of character and complexity. The 2010 (SRH) Santa Rita Hills Syrah was peppery and medium-bodied; the 2009 Lafond Vineyard Syrah was amazing and full-bodied. www.lafondwinery.com