I’ll let you in on a little secret. The Gypsy lived in Santa Maria in the 1970’s, before wine grapes were even planted. She could have never guessed it would become California’s second AVA (American Viticultural Area) in 1981 following Napa Valley and a world-class contender for pinot noir.
The Murphy’s, a tight-knit Louisiana family with four generations of agricultural and forestry history and a reverence for great wine, traveled the West Coast in an extensive search for the perfect terroir to establish a winery. In 2007 they to pool their talents and resources and purchased a 200 acre slice of paradise in the hilly terrain formed by ancient sand dunes in the Santa Maria Valley just 16 miles from the Pacific Ocean. They named the site Presqu’ile (Press KEEL – French Creole for “Almost an Island”) as namesake for their land on the Mississippi Coast that sadly, was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
The Santa Maria Valley benefits from the only two transverse east-west mountain ranges on the entire West Coast of America. Framed between the San Rafael Mountains to the north, and the Solomon Hills to the south, this geographic feature creates a natural funnel, drawing in cool marine air. As a result, the average annual temperature is just 64˚ F with great diurnals, resulting in a true cool-climate viticultural region boasting one of the longest winegrowing seasons in California (125 days on average).
As evidenced in the photographs, the facilities are modern and meticulous to detail. The family procured San Francisco based Taylor Lombardo Architectural Firm to design the stunningly sleek and sophisticated hospitality area and state of the art gravity flow winery. Seventy-three acres are planted to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah and winemaker Dieter Cronje’s approach is a focus on whole berry clusters, native yeasts and modest new oak with minimal intervention to let the Santa Maria Valley speak for itself. The vineyards are SIP Certified Sustainable and support nitrogen-fixing and flowering cover crops. Wildflowers are planted to attract beneficial insect and the property maintains a process water pond to recycle water for cleaning and irrigation. The family is committed to habitat conservation, community based philanthropic endeavors and encourages their staff to volunteer for charities of their choice; all tenets of Sustainability.
The Presqu’ile Tasting Room is open daily and features three flights of wine. Ninety minute tours are available twice daily upon reservation and for the price of admission include a three Pinot Noir tasting paired with artisanal cheese. There are numerous areas for Private Events and a Wine Club offering complimentary shipping and generous amenities to members. An outdoor amphitheater is sculptured into the hillside overlooking the ocean appropriately named the “Outlook Terrace”. It is used for weddings and their Concert Series. My family and I danced for hours under the stars to the Molly Ringwald Project while indulging our senses in their silky estate-bottled Pinot Noir alive with a beautiful tannin structure, sandalwood, red cherry, black raspberry, rose petal and hints of dried orange peel shepherded in by a cool ocean breeze. Can life get much better?
To watch a video about Presqu’ile Winery click here