Sea Smoke’s special vineyard site with its high altitude, southern exposure, rich clay soils, low crop yields and the unique microclimate of the Santa Ynez River canyon, possesses the ideal conditions for growing premium Pinot Noir. Located in the Santa Rita Hills appellation of Santa Barbara County, Sea Smoke’s vineyard site is unique because it falls in one of the only east-west coastal ranges in the United States. The coastal ranges of the western hemisphere generally run north to south, keeping the cool marine fog layer over the Pacific Ocean from reaching the warm interior valleys. However, on occasion, California’s coastal range is dramatically interrupted by geographic features that allow this marine fog layer to wash over ideally situated vineyard land. One such interruption of the coastal range is the Santa Ynez River canyon, which borders the Santa Ynez Mountains and winds its way westward, eventually spilling into the Pacific Ocean. Flanked to the north by the Santa Rita hills, and to the south by the Santa Rosa hills and Santa Ynez range, this canyon acts as a funnel, drawing a layer of marine fog over some of the best Pinot Noir land in the world.
Sea Smoke estate vineyard is planted on south-facing hillside bluffs, with elevations ranging from 350 to 650 feet, and thus benefits from excellent daylong sun exposure – a crucial factor in optimum flavor and tannin development. Moderating this natural abundance of sunshine, the afternoon’s marine fog layer is funneled in from the coast through the Santa Ynez River canyon, cooling the vineyard and resulting in a longer ripening period. This extended hangtime allows the flavors and tannins of Pinot Noir to fully develop prior to harvest.
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