Happy Harvest Season!
It’s that magical time of the year when the vineyard comes alive with the season’s first grapes being plucked at peak ripeness before continuing their journey to our cellar where they will be handcrafted into award-winning wines.
Our 2023 Harvest kicked off here at the Sunstone Estate last week with the picking of our Viognier and Merlot from the A and B blocks at the entrance of the Estate. This year’s Harvest started about two weeks later than normal due to our region’s cooler-than-normal growing season that slowed ripening. This is the complete opposite of last year’s Harvest when extreme heat caused us to start a few weeks earlier than normal.
This year’s Harvest season will culminate with our 2nd Annual Haunted Ball on Saturday, October 28th! This year’s event will be “Dia De Los Muertos” themed with ‘Day of the Dead’ inspired cocktails, dancing and music by DJ Fess, delicious bites, and prizes for the best costumes. Learn more and purchase tickets.
Then, one week later is our Fall Club Release Weekend from November 3rd to 5th when your new wine shipment will be available for pickup. If you haven’t been to the Estate lately, now is the perfect time to visit and enjoy our newly refurbished spaces, additional restrooms, upgraded courtyards, and fire pits to warm you up as the weather begins to cool down.
Looking ahead, please stay tuned to your email and social media over the next month for some exciting announcements about our plans for 2024!
On to the details of your next shipment, which has something for every taste. In addition to our highly regarded Estate Merlot, you’ll be receiving our new Viognier (mixed clubs only), an outstanding Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir sourced from an elite vineyard, and a popular red varietal that has been aged an additional year. Please read on for the winemaking details and tasting notes of all the wines in your upcoming release.
Thank you for your continued support. We look forward to seeing you at the Estate soon. Cheers!
2022 Viognier, SBC
|Grape Blend and Source||100% Viognier|
Three vineyards in Santa Ynez Valley and Los Alamos
|Technical Specs||PH: 3.41|
Acidity: 5.6 g/L
10 months in neutral oak (90% French and 10% American)
|Winemaking Notes||The grapes for our 2022 Viognier were hand-harvested from three different vineyards- one in Los Alamos, Santa Barbara County, and two in Santa Ynez Valley within two miles of the Sunstone Estate. Our team whole-cluster pressed each of the three lots separately as each vineyard was harvested and then fermented for 8-12 days before racking to two-year-old French oak barrels. Our winemaker’s yeasts of choice were BA11 & Rhone 4600, which enhance the sensory notes of tropical fruit, pineapple, guava, apricot, grapefruit, and floral characters of the Viognier varietal for a more aromatic balance. The Viognier was then aged in 90% French and 10% American oak barrels before being bottled to 638 cases in August 2023.|
|Tasting Notes||Refreshing aromas of white peach, pineapple and guava are accented by spicy notes of cinnamon stick and star anise with vanilla bean in the background. Crisp on the palate with subdued acidity and notes of ripe pear, honey, cedar and candied ginger root culminating in a lingering finish.|
|Food Pairing||Yellowtail Carpaccio Sashimi with garlic, ginger, yuzu, and soy sauce, topped with Jalapeno and a sprig of lavender.|
|Cellaring||The 2022 Viognier, SBC can be enjoyed now and for up to an additional 12 months if stored in proper conditions. It is not a candidate for long term aging.|
2021 Merlot, Estate
|Grape Blend and Source||100% Merlot|
|Technical Specs||PH: 3.79|
Acidity: 5.6 g/L
22 months in 20% new and 80% neutral French oak barrels
|Winemaking Notes||Sunstone’s 2021 Estate Merlot (blocks A, B, C, and D) were hand-harvested in mid-October 2021. Our team crushed the fruit by blocking A/B and C/D from fermenting into wine. As the wine was racked to barrel, we aged it for six months until we created the final blend by block, including a slight amount of Cabernet Franc for a full body and darker, spicier characters. After each wine was fermented dry, they were settled and racked. We then conducted a final blend using specific percentages of the Merlot blocks. The wine was then aged in 20% new and 80% neutral French oak barrels. Our winemaker’s choice of yeasts were RC212 & BM45, which enhance sensory notes of dark berry, star anise, black pepper, tobacco, and espresso. The wine was sent through malolactic fermentation to reduce the malic acidity. Our 2021 Estate Merlot was bottled to 971 cases in August 2023 after aging for 22 months.|
|Tasting Notes||A sophisticated nose of blackberry, black licorice and fresh plums mingles with aromas of chocolate covered cherries and fresh ground peppercorn. Well integrated tannins on the palate augment the enjoyable notes of dried cherry, cacao, and boysenberries that lead to a pleasurable, extended finish.|
|Food Pairing||Seared Bison Steak with Roasted Beets and Potatoes|
|Cellaring||The 2021 Merlot, Estate can be enjoyed now and for up to an additional 6-8 years if stored in proper conditions.|
2021 Pinot Noir
|Grape Blend and Source||100% Pinot Noir|
Spear Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills
|Technical Specs||PH: 3.78|
Acidity: 5.3 g/L
18 months in 15% new French oak and 85% neutral American & French oak
|Winemaking Notes||The grapes for our 2021 Pinot Noir, which included the 115, 2A, 777, and Pommard clones, were hand-harvested from the esteemed Spear Vineyard in Sta. Rita Hills between September and October 2021. Our team crushed each clone individually on different dates, then cold-soaked, fermented, and pressed each of the four clones as they finished fermentation. Each lot of wine was aged for seven months before our trial blending to finalize the complexity of these characters, textures, and aromas before the blending. Our winemaker’s yeasts of choice were RA17 and BM45, which enhance sensory and tannin notes by enhancing the characters of raspberry leather, boysenberry, cloves, cedar, espresso, black licorice, and hints of earth and minerality. The wine was sent through malolactic fermentation to reduce the sharp acidity and aged in 15% new French oak and 85% neutral American & French oak for 18 months before being bottled to 650 cases in March 2023.|
|Tasting Notes||Beautiful aromas of blackberry, dried cherry, dried figs and tobacco enhance the dark notes of espresso and the zesty notes of baking spice and black peppercorn. This wine is well-balanced on the palate and shows a velvety soft front, broadcasting its fruit, floral, and spice attributes as it remains complex from start to finish. The oak tannin characteristics of cedar, tobacco, cocoa, and espresso take center stage before concluding in a long, warm finish.|
|Food Pairing||Cherry Balsamic Spatchcock Chicken with Smoked Fig Jam Bruschetta|
|Cellaring||The 2021 Pinot Noir can be enjoyed now and for up to an additional 4-6 years if stored in proper conditions.|
2020 Cabernet Sauvignon, SYV
|Grape Blend and Source||100% Cabernet Sauvignon|
Coqulicot, Valley View and Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards
|Technical Specs||PH: 3.71|
Acidity: 5.8 g/L
22 months in 35% new French oak & 65% neutral French and American oak
|Winemaking Notes||Our 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon, SYV was hand harvested from three different vineyards in Santa Barbara County between October 5th and 14th, 2020. Our team crushed the fruit as it came in individually for separate fermentations, then pressed the fruit for each within 12-14 days of the fermentation and sent them through secondary fermentation in barrel. We blended the three wines together on June 4, 2021 and aged this final wine in 35% new French oak and 65% neutral French (50%) and American oak (15%). Our winemaker’s yeasts of choice were a combination of BM45 and D80, which originated in Italy and the Rhone valley of France respectively. BM45 is preferred by our winemaker because it influences the soft palate and roundness of the fruit, sweet spice, rose, cherry liquor, licorice, cedar, and earthy character of the wine. D80 has similarities but focuses more on the layers and pigment of the wine during the fermentation. It can enhance tannin characters of plum, spice, cherry liquor, pepper, and floral aromas as well as stabilize color from the pigment of the skins and tannins. This combination of yeasts adds a complexity of layers in our Cabernet Sauvignon blend. This wine went through malolactic fermentation to reduce the malic acid sharp acidity. It was bottled to 977 cases in August 2022.|
|Tasting Notes||Bright aromas of fresh blackberries, black cherries, smoky tobacco, and crushed red pepper coupled with vegetal and spice notes. Fruit-forward front palate of dark berries, rhubarb, and black currants, with oak toast and vanilla in the middle, culminating in an extended peppery finish.|
|Food Pairing||Pepper-crusted sirloin steak with autumn vegetable hash|
|Cellaring||The 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon, SYV can be enjoyed now and for an additional 4-8 years if stored in proper conditions.|