Anybody who has been in our store asking for California Chardonnay recommendations has surely heard us mention the wines of Peake Ranch. This producer has previously been on our domestic "Top Wine" list in 2018, and judging by the newly released 2017 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay, there's a good chance that they will be on the list this year!
Peake Ranch is a boutique, family-run winery owned by John and Gillian Wagner. Like all of us who have visited Santa Barbara County, the couple fell in love with the beautiful countryside and the friendliness of the people. They purchased Peake Ranch with a vision of building a winery and a house on the property, and producing extraordinary wines. They also bring a humbleness and sense of humility, which is honestly quite refreshing, considering that in only their third vintage, they began to receive rave reviews from the top critics!
Located on the eastern end of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA on Santa Rosa Road, Peake Ranch is a 105-acre parcel with 50 acres of vines. The plantings are all along a hill that exposes the vines to the cool air that comes off the Pacific and into the Santa Ynez Valley. The combination of various facing slopes, coupled with the exposure to varying degrees of the cool wind give the vineyard a diversity of fruit flavor profiles, resulting in more complex wines.
The winemaking team consists of Paul Lato and Wynne Solomon. Paul has nearly two decades of experience, has earned critical acclaim with top critics (as high as 99 points), and has placed his eponymous line of wines in top restaurants in the United States, Europe and Japan! Wynne studied Wine and Viticulture at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, and began making wine with Stephen Ross Winery in the Edna Valley before moving down to the Sta. Rita Hills to continue pursuing cool climate winemaking with Melville Winery. She joined the Peake Ranch team in 2018, worked with Paul Lato in blending the 2017 vintage, and made the 2018 vintage hand in hand with him. Her vision for Peake Ranch is to focus on the unique attributes of this area while emphasizing balance in Californian wines.
This Chardonnay is comprised of the Peak Ranch Estate Vineyard, coupled with Chardonnay from the famed Sierra Madre Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley. Sierra Madre is comprised of sandy, well-drained soil, and the Chardonnay planted here takes advantage of sunny days and cool night to become both fully ripe and at the same time retain a high level of acidity.
JEB DUNNUCK 95 POINTS - "An up and coming estate readers need to check out is John and Gillian Wagner's Peake Ranch. Located on the eastern/southern side of the Sta. Rita Hills, they produce a stunning array of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrahs. Prices haven't caught up with quality, so these are still screaming values."
"A stunning value, the 2017 Chardonnay Santa Barbara County comes from the Sierra Madre and Peake Ranch vineyards and was barrel fermented and aged 18 months in 50% new French oak. It offers a rich, powerful, quintessential California bouquet of orchard fruits, toasted spice, grilled bread, and white flowers. It's a ripe, sexy, yet flawlessly balanced effort that stays balanced, pure, and lengthy. It's a smoking value even at the $40 price point."