07 Aug Please The Palate Pick of the Week: The Barn at The Hilt Estate
A trip to wine country conjures up images of visiting a winery and tasting wines while enjoying views of the vineyards. In the Santa Ynez Valley, a visit to wine country is more often a visit to a tasting room in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, Los Olivos, Los Alamos, or Solvang. But there are tasting rooms at some wineries in the valley and the newest one to open is The Barn at The Hilt Estate. A warm, inviting, sophisticated yet casual space, The Barn at The Hilt Estate is the Please The Palate pick of the week.
Located on the western edge of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA in Santa Barbara County, The Hilt acquired the historic 3,600-acre Rancho Salsipuedes in 2014. The property is home to three vineyards, Radian, Bentrock, and Puerta del Mar. I first visited The Hilt in early 2020 and winemaker Matt Dees took me to the top of the Radian vineyard. We ended up tasting wine in the vineyard while the wind was wildly blowing, as there was no tasting room for us to go to. The winery had just been finished but the historic barn was under construction. So, when I interviewed him for the Wine Soundtrack podcast, we sat in a makeshift office used by the winemaking team.
A year and a half later, The Barn at the Hilt is complete. And if The Hilt Wines are wines about the place of origin, then The Barn at The Hilt embodies the Sta. Rita Hills. The reclaimed historic 1914 barn is elegant and rustic.
Updated using reclaimed woods and metals from the original structure, The Barn at The Hilt has high ceilings, warm dark wood, leather furniture, and vintage textiles. A large open space, the room opens up to a view of the five acre Puerta del Mar vineyard that surrounds the property.
There are two themed private rooms that are inspired by The Hilt, with cool-toned artwork from Jack McConville, representing the windy and unpredictable nature of the rugged estate, and its sister brand JONATA, which has warm-toned artwork from Gwen O’Neil to reflect JONATA’s warmer climate and sandy soils.
The Barn also features a professional kitchen, as well as numerous outdoor spaces to accommodate special events.
The Barn at The Hilt does not have a tasting bar for people to walk up to for tastings. Instead, a visit to The Barn at The Hilt is by appointment only. A variety of tasting flights are available giving the opportunity to taste the Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from The Hilt and the Rhone and Bordeaux varietal wines of JONATA from Ballard Canyon. Tastings range from $50 to $85 and can be tailored to guest preferences.
If you love crispy, lean, mineral-driven Chardonnay and fresh, structured, elegant Pinot Noir, The Hilt wines are for you! I know I am in love with them and with The Barn at The Hilt, I look forward to return and enjoy the wines while looking out at the vineyard.