Rising in the middle of the western Santa Ynez Valley, the Santa Rita Hills are the distinguishing feature of the region. The valley runs east to west inland from the Pacific, a channel for cool coastal air and afternoon fog that rolls in from the ocean to be trapped by the hills, resulting in a swing between warm days and cool nights. The hills are home to Lafond’s vineyards. It’s a small appellation that has gained recognition for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay: the very cool growing season stretches from February bud break to September harvest, a long period for vine physiology. This long growing season imparts ripe, complex flavour to Pinot Noir.
Fruit is harvested from three blocks on the north and south sides of the Santa Ynez River. Fermented in small lots prior to blending, the wine matured in oak barrels (22% new). This is a spicy, concentrated Pinot with rich notes of dark fruit.
“The 2016 Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills is medium ruby-purple with appealing, layered aromas of red licorice, crushed red cherries and cranberries, raspberry preserves, fragrant earth, dried violets and Earl Grey tea leaves. Medium-bodied, it offers great flavour intensity with a grainy frame and very juicy freshness, finishing long with sweet red fruits. 2,734 cases produced.”
91 points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Sept 2019