Sea Smoke Cellars
In 1999, Bob Davids established Sea Smoke Cellars in the western part of the Santa Rita Hills AVA. Like a handful of other top California wineries and vineyards, (Screaming Eagle, Harlan, Colgin, Dalle Valle, Garys’ Vineyard, etc.), Sea Smoke’s reputation has reached epic proportions. Demand far exceeds supply.
The Santa Rita Hills is a special place for Pinot Noir. Rarely does climate, terrain, and winemaking philosophy blend together so seamlessly for this notoriously fickle varietal. One of the keys to region’s success with Pinot is that this is one of the rare places where the Coastal Mountain Range runs east-west rather than north-south. This allows cool ocean air and fog to move inland, tempering the climate. Hence the name, “sea smoke.”
Davids’ esteemed vines are planted on slopes with an excellent southern exposure at elevations ranging between 300 and 650 feet above sea level. Like the Grand Crus of the Cote de Nuit, they are planted on the middle part of the slope.
The vines bask in late morning and afternoon sun, giving the delicate Pinot Noir grapes time to ripen and develop varietal characteristics. In the evening, fog from the Pacific Ocean makes its way up the Santa Ynez River to the property.
This yin-yang climate of sun and fog is responsible for complex finesse that Sea Smoke Pinot Noir is famous for. These wines are always in very high demand and can be difficult to find. Membership to the mailing list is coveted by Pinot connoisseurs similarly to how Cab lovers want to buy direct from Screaming Eagle.
The Sea Smoke 2004 Santa Rita Hills Botella Pinot Noir was recently ranked #53 on the Wine Spectator Top 100 wines for 2006. Except for a late heat wave around Labor Day, the 2004 vintage was a methodical and excellent growing season. The grapes were hand picked and were destemmed by hand without crushing. Sea Smoke also makes the “Ten” and “Southing” bottlings of Pinot Noir.