Beginning in 2005 the Miller family, owners of the Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills Vineyards, began to make a small amount of wine under their new estate labels. Owners of Bien Nacido Vineyards since the 1970s, this vineyard has been the source of many great wines made by early wineries like Au Bon Climat and Qupé as well as newer wineries such as Tyler and Chanin. (To read about some of these wines click here  and here and to read about the history of the Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills vineyards click here .) The Solomon Hills Vineyard was planted in 1999 on the western edge of the appellation in a very cool area. Grapes from this vineyard are also being used now to produce some really terrific wines
In 2011 Trey Fletcher joined the team as winemaker and general manager. Total production today is around 2200 cases and the 5 year plan is to move toward 4000 cases. But the objective is quality, not quantity. Today these wines are consistently some of the best being made in Santa Barbara County. I began tasting them in 2012. I first visited the winery in early 2013 and recently visited the winery again to taste the current wines.
The last 3 vintages were quite different, but all produced excellent wines. The 2011s and 2012s are both very successful vintages and 2013 may be even better. Time will tell. The 2011s from a cool year have a lot of elegance and finesse. The 2012 vintage produced a larger crop and the wines are characterized as supple and rounded with delicious ripe fruit. The 2013 yields were a bit lower than 2012 and the wines again show very pure supple fruit with an underlying crispness. Maybe like a cross between 2010 and 2012.
There are some really outstanding wines currently available and others that will be released this fall with the 2013s to follow next year. Don’t miss them. The wines are available in very limited retail distribution and from the winery (to get more information, get on the mailing list for future offerings, and inquire about wine purchases click here ). The current suggested retail prices for the wines is $43 for the Chardonnays, $57 for the Pinot Noirs, and $52 for the Syrah.
I am adding this winery to my recommended list of Central Coast wineries (to read that article click here ) and will be following the wines in the future. And, since I always like to eat my own cooking, I will be buying some of these wines for my cellar. I recommend that you do the same.
Following are my notes on wines recently tasted at the winery :
2012 Solomon Hills Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley
This vintage yielded 250 cases.
Light yellow color. Lovely perfume. Rich and full with very pure fruit accented by a touch of spice and citrus. Floral nuances. Very well crafted. Vice underlying crispness. A Chardonnay with great refinement and balance – Outstanding. $43
2012 Bien Nacido Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley
This vintage yielded 250 cases.
The grapes for this wine came from vines planted in 1973. Light yellow in color. Great perfume. Floral with hints of citrus and peach and a faint buttery nuance. Beautifully balanced. Full and rich with a honeyed quality and lush fruit. Underlying citrus tinge which gives the wine lift. Very special – Outstanding Plus. $43
2011 Bien Nacido Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley
This vintage yielded 270 cases.
The grapes for this wine came from 3 different parts of the vineyard with 60% from old vines in block Q. This is a gorgeous wine of great finesse and style. Very nice color. Great floral berry perfume. Very pure fruit. Great intensity and depth with a real elegance. Delicous now, but with a long life ahead. A classic Pinot Noir – Outstanding Plus. $57
2012 Solomon Hills Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley
This vintage yielded 360 cases.
Deep color. Gorgeous floral berry perfume with just a touch of smokiness. Lots of rich supple fruit accented by a faint floral spiciness. Well structured and a bit restrained, this wine will benefit with decanting and some age. Great style – Outstanding. $57
2011 Bien Nacido Syrah Santa Maria Valley
This vintage yielded 200 cases.
This is a great cool climate Syrah from a very cool year. It is stunningly pure and brimming with fruit. Dark in color. Deep blackberry perfume. Rich fruit. Balanced with great flavor. This is a delcious wine to drink now or lay away for a decade or more – Outstanding Plus. $52
Trey thinks the 2013 Chardonnays are his best vintage to date and he also thinks the 2013 reds are great as well. No question these are wines of great potential.
2013 Solomon Hills Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley
Light yellow color. Stunning floral perfume. Very pure, bright and crisp with lots of fruit and flavor. Beautifully balanced with great length – Outstanding Plus Potential.
2013 Bien Nacido Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley
Light yellow color. Gorgeous perfume. Floral and even a touch honeyed. Great fruit and intensity. Very pure and rich. Lots of fruit and a nice citrus tinge. Long finish. A very rich wine with great balance. This is special – Exceptional Potential.
2013 Solomon Hills Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley
Deep color. Great berry perfume. Floral nuances. Lots of very pure berry fruit. Flavorful and bright and crisp. Well structured. Lots of charm – Outstanding Potential.
2013 Bien Nacido Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley
Deep color. Lovely floral tinged berry perfume. Quite rich with lots of fruit. Has depth and richness. Balanced with a crisp underlying core – Outstanding Plus Potential.
2013 Bien Nacido Syrah Santa Maria Valley
Dark color. Deep perfume of blackberry fruit. Rich and full and brimming with fruit, yet very well integrated and balanced. Lots of flavor. Great style – Outstanding Plus Potential.