January 2020 - Please The Palate
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Winemakers will tell you that they want the grape vines to "suffer". Wine grapes do not want luxurious lives that enable them to get fat and plump. That is the life of a juicy table grape. Our wine grapes want unique soils, long growing seasons, diurnal temperature shifts and more. But then there are the extreme vineyards where you wonder how a grapevine survives. That is what I thought as I stood on the top of The Hilt Winery's Radian Vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA in the Santa Ynez Valley. But, it is the ideal place for winemaker Matt Dees and the wines he is producing demonstrate that, as I wrote about in the Napa Valley Register and am sharing here. Standing at the top of the Radian Vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA in the Santa Ynez Valley was like standing in a world of its own. The sight of surrounding vines was familiar and yet it was not like other vineyards I have visited in Sta. Rita Hills.
The sun was shining as a strong, cool wind continuously blew, creating a temperature that was described as “refrigerated sunshine.” Below me, my shoes were lightly covered with the white topsoil of diatomaceous earth. This dramatic landscape is a truly distinct place and it is the home of The Hilt, a winery that is pushing it to the hilt of extremes.