Question about Sierra Madre Vineyard (Santa Maria Valley, CA

For those winemakers that source pinot noir from the Sierra Madre vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley, do you have a favorite clone or mix of clones?

If yes, can you explain why?

While we don’t source from there, I have had many Sierra Madre wines, work just a couple of miles from the vineyard, and drive by it on my way home every day. It’s an intriguing site, as it’s right at the northern end of where the Santa Maria mesa begins (basically, the portion of our valley where it becomes more like a rolling series of sand dunes with a little bit of clay than the more alluvial soils of the Bien Nacido/SM Bench area). It’s also one of the westernmost vineyards in the AVA.

As far as local producers, probably the most prominent is Ken Volk, who if I recall correctly gets all Pommard 5, though maybe some Dijon as well. Scott Cellars gets 667. Lane Tanner used to make some Pinots from here in her earlier days (I think Pommard?), definitely worth seeking out if you can find one. Sierra Madre has started producing their own estate bottling in the last couple of years, but I haven’t had a chance to try it. Many other producers buy Sierra Madre fruit, though it seems to get blended into various SB County/SM Valley cuvees much of the time rather than vineyard-designated. Additionally, it’s a good site for Chardonnay, and there have been some stunning Pinot Grigios from there as well.

If I had my druthers of Sierra Madre’s clones, I’d take Pommard and 2A. I’m a firm believer that site trumps clone, but I think these two, in this part of the valley, maintain the best acid and achieve ripeness at lower sugars than 667, 777, etc. I’m not opposed to Dijon clones, but I don’t feel that they are necessarily the best fit for the Mesa. Check out their website (http://www.sierramadrevineyard.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;), it’s got a lot of good info.

Cameron,

Thanks for your comments; good to get it from someone working in the area!

I’m planning to visit the vineyard soon, but was curious to see what others thought about the site.

It’s still very early, but of the clones available to me I’m intrigued with the two pommards clones (4,5) and the Dijon (115).

This harvest will be a first with pinot so I’m looking forward to the challenge.

Cheers,
Brett

Hey Cameron,

You work at Tantara, right?

How’s the latest T Solomon pinot tasting? Also, do you know what clones were used?

Cheers,
Brett

Hi Brett,

Yep, I’m over at Tantara. In my completely biased opinion, I think the '07 T. Solomon is showing very nicely, one of the more forward of the vintage right now. Leans more towards dark fruit, though there’s still pretty high-toned red fruit character, as well as touches of Santa Maria spice.

There are a ton of different clones in there, as it’s a fairly diverse blend. The majority of the blend is Solomon Hills and Bien Nacido (hence the name), though a small portion from Dierberg as well as our SRH vineyards (Lindsey’s and Rio Vista) typically make it in there. The entire clonal makeup would be: 2A, Pommard, 115, 667, 777, and Mount Eden. Hope that helps!

Thanks for the info; very helpful!

Cheers,
Brett