Boasting Wines of Near-perfect Ratings
Less than ten minutes from the ocean, and cradled to the west of the Santa Lucia Mountains, is Chamisal Vineyards. The location with the red, barnlike structure has the distinction of being the first vineyard planted in the Edna Valley AVA. Prior to its reincarnation as Chamisal, whose namesake is in reference to the indigenous chamise shrub, clustered with little white flowers, the vineyard was known as Domaine Alfred. Led by Terry Spitzer, the winery established the mainstay of the present-day vineyards. Boasting near-perfect ratings by national critics, its vintages became the envy of the Central California Coast.
Chamisal Vineyards’ Fin du Fresne has shared in Domaine Alfred’s award-winning legacy since 2006, and is establishing his own medal-garnering excellence as chief winemaker. The geology and enology major first worked as a viticulturist with a vineyard that helped pioneer New Zealand Pinot Noirs before a stint in Europe and later harvesting grapes in Paso Robles’s Westside. Among peers and visitors alike, he has established himself in Edna Valley as one of its respected and charismatic winemakers.
Chamisal’s viticultural palette includes a total of five varietals. In all, there are 85 acres with planted vines, plus 20 more in development with a total of 25 different clones. Currently, there are 38 acres of Pinot Noir, consisting of ten clones, nearly 30 acres of Chardonnay that include seven clones, as well as varying acreage and clones of Pinot Gris, Syrah and Grenache grapes. Microclimates within their vineyard blocks enable Chamisal to develop a complex array of wines for some exciting vintages.
Their line of Califa (or “prettiest one”) wines are heralded as the most densely flavored of single-varietal Pinot Noir, Syrah and Chardonnay wines - the latter of which scored 94 points in December 2012 Wine Spectator. Small Lot wines include the Cinq a Sept (Grenache), Monologue (Pinot Noir) and Morrito (Pinot Noir) wines, which call attention to a particular block or aspect of the vineyard. Chamisal Estate vintages capture the terroir, or “sense of place” that is Edna Valley, and demonstrates the vastness of flavor profiles that their vineyards offer. They include Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, Pinot Gris and Grenache Rosé wines. Last, but not least, are the Stainless Chardonnay and Stainless Pinot Noir, for those who enjoy a crisp white or red without any hint of oakiness.
The 2010 Vintners Quest Pinot Noir 8N is sourced from among Chamisal’s younger plantings, which has earned a special place in the Chamisal arsenal. Fin explains that the “8N” designation is in reference to the number of kilometers and northward direction to the vineyard from Chamisal. These Calera clone vines were planted by the Righetti family, who have not only farmed in San Luis Obispo County’s Edna Valley and throughout Santa Barbara County for generations, they are world-renowned for helping to establish world-renowned tradition of Santa Maria-style tri-tip barbecues and seasonings. What better fit than Chamisal’s reds to make complete a culinary feast?
For those interested in Chamisal Vineyards’ Wine Club, there are four to choose from. Led by Director of Consumer Sales Andrea Chan, Chamisal Vineyards enjoys word-of-mouth popularity for their friendly staff along with memorable wines. Visit them at 7525 Orcutt Road in San Luis Obispo every day of the week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve/Day and New Year’s Day. Currently, one tasting is available consisting of Estate and Califa offerings for $12-$15. A reservation is required for groups of 8 or more. Call toll-free (805) 808-9463 or (805) 541-9463.