Holiday season is here! With so many wine choices, this year I’ve decided to feature wines that are made sustainably, taste delicious, and help give back to the community and land where they are produced.
Cambria Estate Winery was founded by the late Jess Jackson and his wife Barbara Banke in 1986. Located in the Santa Maria Valley, the winery is run by Banke (and a female team) with vineyards named after her daughters producing some of their best wines - Julia’s Pinot Noir and Katherine’s Chardonnay.
The Santa Maria Valley is located in the stunning Santa Barbara County - a county that sits along the Pacific Central Coast about 100 miles north of the city of Los Angeles. You will find 6 unique American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). The largest AVA and the region’s first officially approved AVA is Santa Maria Valley spreading across 98,790 acres with 3,500 acres planted to grapes.
The Santa Maria Valley is ideal for grape vineyards, mostly known for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah, produced in a wide range of wine styles.Wine making here dates back before California was a state.
Cambria Estate Winery is a straight shot to the Pacific Ocean about 15 miles away. Most vineyards are planted between 300 and 800 feet on hillsides on the “Santa Maria Bench” – a very desirable part of the valley located in the foothills of the Tepusquet Mountains. The bench is very shallow and rocky but contains alluvial soils, which are made up of alluvium, a material deposited by rivers. The rocky ground provides excellent drainage, while the alluvial soils give a fertile space for vines to grow.
At Cambria, winemaker Jill Russell loves working with a large variety of grape varietals on the 1,600-acre estate. Her favorite grapes are found in Cambria’s Signature Collection. For the Holidays, the Cambria Estate Winery Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are great choices to enjoy with appetizers, turkey, and all the trimmings. For something out of the usual, two unique wines to consider are the Cambria Estate Syrah and Viognier from the famous Tepusquet Vineyard.
In addition to producing outstanding wines, Cambria is committed to giving back to its community and the land. All of Cambria’s wines are certified sustainable and the winery has a long history of stewardship. In fact, every aspect of the winery’s operations, from the cellar to the estate vineyard, practices sustainable farming and winemaking techniques. This includes planting over 5,500 trees on the estate and working in partnership with resource agencies on habitat restoration and endangered species protection.
In the cellar, the winery recycles its process water for reuse as vineyard and landscape irrigation. The winery also has a 504kW photovoltaic (PV) solar array which helps reduce Cambria’s carbon footprint by offsetting roughly 85% of the winery’s annual electricity use from onsite renewable power.
Cambria Estate Winery developed an employee garden over the past two years that is a combined vineyard and winery project. Any weeds are composted to be used a future fertilizer in the garden. The compost bins were built by some of their winery crew out of old wooden pallets.
I suggest serving or gifting the following wines for holidays. Look for them at your favorite local wine shop, or online at cambriawines.com
2017 Cambria Estate Winery Katherine’s Vineyard Chardonnay
Clean and crisp with aromas of citrus and peach followed by green apple flavors. $22
2016 Cambria Estate Winery Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir
A silky texture with spicy aromas opening up to flavors of raspberry, cherry, and truffle. $25
2018 Cambria Estate Winery Julia's Vineyard Rosé of Pinot Noir
An easy drinking, fun style Rosé, dry and crisp with strawberry and bubblegum flavors. $25
2016 Cambria Estate Winery Tepusquet Syrah
A classic cool climate earthy Syrah with an abundance of dark fruit aromas and dark cherry flavors. $32
2016 Cambria Estate Winery Tepusquet Viognier
Bright citrus flavors and aromas of poached pear, lemon curd, baking spices with notes of orange blossom finish fresh and crisp. $27