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Presqu’ile, pronounced “press-KEEL,” is a small winery is located in the Santa Maria Valley near the small town of Orcutt. Presqu’ile is Creole for “almost an island,” and was the gathering place for the Murphy family on the Gulf Coast until Hurricane Katrina ended an era. Four generations of the Murphy family have partnered in farming, forestry, oil and gas, and conservation. Today, two generations of Murphys joined with winemaker Dieter Cronje and vineyard manager Jim Stollberg to form the soul of Presqu’ile. Located between the Pacific Ocean and the San Rafael Mountains, near Solomon Hills Vineyard, the 73 acres of certified sustainably farmed vineyards are located on a 200-acre property.
The spectacular new winery, on the site of a former gladiola farm, was finished in June 2013. It combines impressive architecture that blends with its surroundings with state-of-the-art winemaking equipment. The winery is built into a hill to provide a gradient to facilitate gravity-flow winemaking. It contains a spacious tasting area and barrel cave, fermentation tanks and lab are one floor higher, and crush pad and more storage areas are one floor higher at the top of the hill. The stone throughout the building is from nearby Lompoc.
Production centers on Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc both from the estate vineyard and top growers in Santa Barbara County. Annual production is about 8,000 cases, but will eventually expand to 12,000 to 13,000 cases. Farming includes intensive shoot and cluster thinning. Grapes are picked at relatively low brix, as the region allows for more phenolic ripeness at lower sugars, producing wines of moderately low alcohol. The wines are fermented exclusively with native yeast, with a high percentage of whole cluster, and most wines are barrel aged in 75% neutral French oak barrels. The Pinot Noirs are bottled unfined and unfiltered.
The Murphys are also partners in Alta Maria Winery & Vineyards whose wines will be produced at Presqu'ile.
The wines are sold through a mailing list with limited retail distribution. Wilson Daniels is the distributor.
A 90-minute tour of the winery and tasting includes a different wine at each level of the winery and ends with a taste on an observation deck from the roof of the hilltop structure ($45, by appointment). The tasting room is open daily (fee is $15 for four wines). After 4:00 PM on Fridays, wine is served by the glass or bottle only, accompanied by live music.
2014 Presqu’ile Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
13.9% alc., pH 3.30-3.52, TA 0.68-0.82, $35. An array of Dijon clones grown in outstanding vineyards such as Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills. Feral yeast primary fermentation and feral malolactic conversion. Aged 12 months on the lees in neutral French oak, 6 months in stainless steel. · Light golden yellow color in the glass. The nose comes at you with hi-tone aromas of dried apricot, ocean breeze salinity and a complimentary butter note. Slightly viscous in the mouth, with flavors of green apple, citrus and white peach. A restrained style without oak intrusion, finishing with steely resolve. Score: 93. Reviewed August 17, 2016 ARTICLE »
2014 Presqu’ile Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
12.9% alc., $42. 90% Presqu’ile Vineyard, 10% Bien Nacido Vineyard. Clones 777, 667, 115, Pommard and Mt Eden. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 40% new. 47% whole cluster. Grapes harvested at a relatively low Brix, minimal new oak aging. SIP certified. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose opens grudgingly in the glass offering aromas of smoky oak, hazelnuts, pungent herbs with no fruit. Better in the mouth, with mid weight flavors of black cherry and black raspberry that have good phenolic ripeness and are backed by a healthy tannic backbone. Very modest on the finish, and a bit too oak-infused and herbaceous for my taste. Score: 87. Reviewed August 17, 2016 ARTICLE »
2014 Presqu’ile Steiner Creek Vineyard San Luis Obispo Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., pH 3.48, TA 0.74, $48. Vineyard is located 3 miles north of Cambria on the Phelan Ranch. 11 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay planted by Greg Phelan in 2008. Pinot Noir clones 667, 777, 115 and Pommard. Cobbled riverbed soils and proximity to the Pacific Ocean lead to low yields naturally. 50% whole cluster. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 33% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of blackberry jam, black cherries, dried herbs and spice. The blackberry, blueberry and pomegranate fruit flavors really pop in the mouth, holding court through a generous mid palate and finishing with panache and length. An herbal and vegetal thread in the background is from whole cluster inclusion and detracts rather than elevates the wine currently. Score: 90. Reviewed August 17, 2016 ARTICLE »
2013 Presqu’ile Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
13.4% alc., pH 3.54, TA 0.58, $35. Clones 131, 124, 76, 4 and 96. Native yeast fermentation, native malolactic fermentation, aging on lies 12 months in French oak barrels (15% new) and 6 months in stainless steel, with light lees stirring. · Moderate golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Bright aromas of lemon drops, yellow apple, nutty oak and a hint of salinity. A nicely composed, lighter-weight, and pleasing wine with flavors of lemon and honey presented on a slightly viscous platform. Score: 90. Reviewed January 17, 2016 ARTICLE »
2013 Presqu’ile Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
13.1% alc., pH 3.70, TA 0.51, $42. Clones 115, 777 and 667. 47% whole cluster. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 55% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of whole cluster spice, black cherry and smoke. A wine with character featuring mid weight flavors of black raspberry, boysenberry, spice and a thread of oak. Welcome harmony, with mild tannins and some finishing power. Score: 89. Reviewed January 17, 2016 ARTICLE »
2013 Presqui’ile Presqui’ile Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
13.33% alc., pH 3.42, TA 0.61, 657 cases, $45. Clones 4, 95, 124. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 32% new. Unfined and unfiltered. A barrel selection intended to represent the essence of the vineyard. · Moderately light golden color and clear in the glass. The nose leads with scents of lemon, pear skin and seashore. Flavors of citrus and peach are balanced with a steely minerality which I liked. Very enjoyable, with well integrated oak, saliva inducing acidity and some finishing citrus-driven ebullience. Score: 92. Reviewed January 17, 2016 ARTICLE »
2013 Presqu’ile Steiner Creek Vineyard San Luis Obispo County Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., pH 3.76, TA 0.522, 612 cases, $48. Third release from this vineyard that is located on the Phelan Ranch, three miles north of Cambria. The vineyard was planted in 2007 to 13.25 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The sandy, cobbled soils are unique for the Santa Maria Valley and yield very small quantities of grapes. Clones 667, 777, 115 and Pommard. 50% whole cluster. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 55% new. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The engaging nose becomes more likable over time in the glass, exuding aromas of dark fruits, spice, fennel and red clay pottery. The boisterous flavors of purple and black fruits saturate the mid palate, picking up accents of charcoal, oak, earth and spice as the finish evolves. The substantial but not intrusive tannic backbone guarantees age ability. Score: 92. Reviewed January 17, 2016 ARTICLE »
2013 Presqu’ile Presqu’ile Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
13.08% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.52, $60. A barrel selection reflecting the essence of the vineyard. Pommard, Mt. Eden, 115, 667, and 777 clones. 65% whole cluster. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 60% new. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Deep aromas of black stone and berry fruits with added scents of exotic spice, pine sap and subtle stem. An abundance of boysenberry fruit is complimented by notes of spice and floral intricacy. Luscious but light on its feet, with admirable balance and a berry-fueled finish of note. Score: 92. Reviewed January 17, 2016 ARTICLE »
2010 Presqu’ile Presqu’ile Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
13.3% alc., 350 cases. · Corked. The wine still had appeal on the palate with nicely ripened and well-spiced darker fruits backed by sinewy tannins. Reviewed July 21, 2013 ARTICLE »
2010 Presqu’ile Winery Solomon Hills Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
$/N/A 80% whole cluster. Tasted briefly at World of Pinot Noir. · Mid weight darker stone fruits, with good verve and zest. Layers of flavor backed by rigorous tannins. Good. Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »
2010 Presqu’ile Winery Presqu’ile Estate Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
13.46% alc., TA 0.561, $55. First 100% estate grown wine. 100% whole cluster. 60% clone 777, 40% clone 667. Aged 17 months in 35% new French oak barrels. Tasted briefly at World of Pinot Noir. · Welcome whole cluster spice and structure with a delicious cherry core, fine tannins and a very focused finish. Very good. Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »
2009 Presqu’ile Presqu’ile Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
13.4% alc.. 40% whole cluster. Native yeast fermentation and native malolactic conversion. Aged 14 months in 50% new French oak barrels. Clones 777 (75%) and 667 (25%). · An exciting wine displaying considerable charm considering its young vines origin. More intense, intriguing and complex than the Santa Maria Valley bottling, offering aromas of plum sauce, blackberries and spice, and a discreetly concentrated core of Dr. Pepper and dark berry jam flavors. Full of energy and light on its feet. Very good (+). Reviewed March 12, 2011 ARTICLE »
2009 Presqu’ile Presqu’ile Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., 350 cases, $Unreleased. Best 12 barrels. 40% whole cluster. Native yeast fermentation and native malolactic conversion. Aged 14 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple hue in the glass. Demure aromas of dark red fruits, spice and subtle oak. Tasty array of dark red berries and cherries with well-proportioned supporting t n’ a. Soft and smooth like the hair of an angel. Much better the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle showing plenty of signature Santa Maria spice. Needs a little more time in bottle. Very good. Reviewed May 15, 2011 ARTICLE »
2009 Presqu’ile Rim Rock Vineyard San Luis Obispo County Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., 150 cases,$Unreleased. Only winery to receive grapes from this vineyard which is located 8 miles inland in southern San Luis Obispo County. 2 acres of own-rooted Dijon clones 667 and 115. Rocky soils and cool climate limit yields to less than 2 tons per acre. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Starts off strong with vibrant aromas of dark stone fruits, fading some in the glass as oak and green notes take over. The most intense, and showing the most fruit impact in the mid palate of the three wines reviewed here. Soft and smooth with notable tannin and oak presence, finishing with some persistence. Picks up appeal over time in the glass. A little disjointed now and will benefit from a year or two in the cellar. Good (+). Reviewed May 15, 2011 ARTICLE »
2009 Presqu’ile Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
14.3% alc.,TA 0.725, $35. 60% Solomon Hills Vineyard and 40% Bien Nacido Vineyard. Clones 4, 96 and 95. Aged 14 months in 8% new French oak barrels. · Light straw color and clear in the glass. Aromas of tropical fruits and banana. Restrained, but pleasing flavors of apples, ripe pears, and jackfruit. Balanced and easy to drink. A mainstream Chardonnay that works as a daily drinker and will compliment many foods because of its vibrant acidity. Decent (+). Reviewed May 15, 2011 ARTICLE »
2009 Presqu’ile Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., $42. 35% whole cluster, native yeast primary fermentation and native malolactic conversion. 50% Presqu’ile Estate Vineyard and 50% Solomon Hills Vineyard. Clones 667, 115, Pommard and 777. Aged 14 months in 20% new French oak barrels. · Lithe and seductive, with immensely satisfying dark fruit array on a medium-bodied frame, displaying the signature Santa Maria spice, and ending on a juicy note. Very good. Reviewed March 12, 2011 ARTICLE »
2009 Presqu’ile Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., $42. 35% whole cluster, native yeast primary fermentation and native malolactic conversion. 56% Presqu’ile Vineyard and 44% Solomon Hills Vineyard. Clones 667, 115, Pommard and 777. Aged 14 months in 20% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Shy aromatics revealing demure scent of kirsch and mixed berries. Simple and direct flavors of black cherries and berries with a hint of spice, lively acidity and moderate fine-grain tannins. A good daily drinker. Decent. Reviewed May 15, 2011 ARTICLE »