The Vineyard Cellars imports its first Santa Barbara wines

Lisa Riley

Californian wine importer The Vineyard Cellars has signed a deal as importer of the Sta. Rita Hills-based Melville Winery.

As part of the deal, which marks the first time The Vineyard Cellars will represent a winery from Santa Barbara, an initial five-strong selection from the winery will be available from the Californian specialist, which has to date built its reputation on boutique wines from classic Californian regions such as Napa and Sonoma.

Available from next week to the on-trade and independent retailers, the quintet comprises 2014 Estate Chardonnay (rsp: £28.58), 2014 Estate Pinot Noir (rsp: £36.75), 2014 Sandy’s Block Pinot Noir (rsp: £49), 2014 Block M Pinot Noir (rsp: £57.75) and 2015 Estate Syrah (rsp: £33.25).

Made exclusively with fruit from the 120ha Melville estate’s ‘cold climate’ vineyards, the wines would compliment and build on The Vineyard Cellars’ existing 35-strong portfolio, said wine director James Hocking.

The combination of Sta. Rita Hills’ cooling wind and fog resulted in an ”extremely slow” ripening period, which contributed to characteristics specific to this sub-region, including ”intense colours and flavours; richness; weight; and a vibrant acidity”, he said.

“We are seeing some really interesting developments in Santa Barbara and Sta. Rita Hills is a bit of an undiscovered gem.”

Family-owned Melville Winery, one of the first winemakers to plant in the Sta. Rita Hills before the region gained AVA status in 2001, specialises in Pinot Noir, Syrah and Chardonnay, with an impressive breadth of clones for each varietal.

To maximise the site-specific characteristics, the 25 blocks are fermented in small batches and kept separate throughout ‘elevage’.



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