Wine StoreWinemaker

North Canyon

In a secluded canyon less than twenty miles from the Pacific Ocean, beyond the famed Bien Nacido Vineyard along the Santa Maria Bench, down a narrow cut framed by rocky cliffs with the Cuyama River running through it, "Taz" Steinhauer aims to prove a point.

Here, in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, where mountain ranges running northwest by southeast differ from most of the Central Coast, temperatures are often five degrees warmer at the far reaches. Some four miles beyond a non-descript metal gate Merlot has been planted in blocks as small as 1.73 acres using clones 3 and 181. And then there's the Syrah. Just ask winemakers in the neighborhood, where producers such as Qupé source from just around the canyon wall.

On hillside blocks stretching toward the sun, Pinot Noir of great character is possible here, where the growing season is mild and extended, often starting early and staying later while fruit matures to a brightness and character immediately recognizable as Santa Barbara. VSP trellis allows vineyard workers to position shoots to gain maximum exposure to the sun. Yields are less than two tons per acre, making every berry precious. Soils in the North Canyon make vines struggle and fight to gain flavor, consisting primarily of clay loam and some shale, though each TAZ block varies.

Varietals Planted
Pinot Noir, Syrah, Merlot

Rootstocks
5BB, 5C, 101-14,
1103P, 140RU

Clones
Merlot 3, 181
Syrah;
Estrella, Syrah Noir,
174, 383, 887
Pinot Noir 115, 667, 777

Appellation
Santa Maria Valley