The Spanish term ‘Las Alturas’ means ‘the heights’, a fitting name for this vineyard located on one of the highest grape-growing benches in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA up to 1200 feet. At this elevation, the sunny but very cool climate creates a wine bearing all the hallmarks of this coastal region: robust, expressive, full bodied and balanced by a firm acidity. Nestled between the Santa Lucia Mountains and the western side of Salinas Valley, Las Alturas benefits from early morning fog which rolls in most days from Monterey Bay then burns off within a few hours. Gusty winds funnel in from the bay throughout the afternoon, moderating the overall temperature and contributing to one of the longest growing seasons in California. The high winds also result in smaller berries with very thick skins, giving us more color concentration. Another attractive characteristic of this vineyard is the low-vigor, free-draining sub-soil made up of a calcareous base underneath a layer of sandy loam. This complements our farming techniques to further reduce our yields per vine and augment the fruit’s intensity.
THE 2017 GROWING SEASON:
Winter rainfall and precise canopy management helped to smooth out the vintage in the Santa Lucia Highlands. The season started with more temperate weather than we’ve had in recent years. Winter rains produced excellent root flush and a mild spring weather brought good bloom. Right on schedule, warm temperatures in late July helped the grapes transition to full ripeness. We wrapped up in a lightning-fast three weeks. The weather cooled as harvest progressed. When all was said and done, yields were light to average. The quality of the Pinot Noir crop will be consistent with what we expect of this outstanding growing region.
We harvested early in the morning so the fruit would arrive at the winery while the grapes were still cool to preserve the vineyard-fresh flavors. After de-stemming, but not crushing, the berries, we cold-soaked the fruit for up to two weeks to soften the skins and allow for ideal extraction. During fermentation in a combination of closed and open-top stainless steel fermenters, we used both punch-downs and pump-overs to extract color and tannins, and also to control temperatures and maximize flavors. We aged the wine in 100% French oak (60% new, 40% seasoned) for up to nine months. After the wine underwent malolactic fermentation, we racked it twice before making the final blend.
Deep garnet in color with an aromatic medley of black cherry, marionberry, ripe plum and a hint of anise. Dark fruit on the palate with flavors of wild berries, caramelized oak and cacao nibs complemented by subtle notes of vanilla, cedar and a hint of lavender and forest floor. Rich and unrestrained, this wine’s abundant fruit is beautifully balanced by firm acidity and layers of red and black fruit.