Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard

The Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard is unlike any vineyard on California’s Central Coast. Over 60 miles east of the Pacific Ocean, the property is in Region III, covering rolling hills and mountain plateaus at an elevation ranging from 2,800 to 3,200 feet above sea level. With approximately 3,300 to 3,500 degree days, such an altitude demands sensitive management of UV intensity, as the vines’ exposure to sun rays is equal to a few hours’ additional sunlight at sea level – not unlike the length of days at the Washington/Oregon border. Concentrated UV exposure is balanced slightly by a 30 to 40-degree diurnal swing, with elevation cooling the Highlands Vineyard’s day temperatures by 10 to 15 degrees, despite its inland position and distance from the ocean.

Cutting a path through the property is the Cuyama River, which supplies most of the property’s water, as Highlands receives only 5 to 12 inches of rainfall annually. (Six of those inches are provided by snowmelt, which regularly recharges the river’s supply.) This extreme aridity translates to excellent ripeness on a regular basis, even in the most challenging of vintages. Passive frost prevention from nearby hills opens cold air drains, moving cold air into the vineyard and out along the river; while active management comes from sprinklers in low-lying areas. Uniquely, the Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard has little pest pressure, allowing for minimal pest control-input farming.

The Cuyama River contributes beneficial bench lands and alluvial soils to the wide array of soil types across the property, including everything from rocky sands to loamy clays. This broad spectrum of soils is highlighted in the wines: Lighter textures ripen fruit faster, giving jammy fruit flavors, while heavy clays mature fruit more slowly and show more spice and earth characteristics.

The Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard comprises 747 acres of vines, whose fruit is predominantly sold to independent winemakers. Varieties include:

  • Cabernet Franc
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Grenache
  • Grenache Blanc
  • Malbec
  • Merlot
  • Mourvèdre
  • Orange Muscat
  • Petite Sirah
  • Roussanne
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Syrah
  • Viognier
Row spacing: Original rows were planted at 10 feet by 5 feet, with all later rows planted at 8’x5’.
Vine spacing: Vines are spaced at 5 feet.
Trellising: All vines use vertical shoot positioning.
Harvesting: Harvesting is carried out both mechanically and by hand.