Our vineyard is located in the northern most portion of Santa Ynez Valley AVA within Santa Barbara County. Unlike most of California’s coast, our valleys orient east-west, opening to the Pacific Ocean’s influences with its cooling morning fog and afternoon breeze. We are about 25 miles from the Pacific Ocean.
We first planted our vines in 1973 and we have 244 plantable acres on our 750 acre estate. Our soils are mostly Chamise Loam which are well-drained soils that developed over gravelly beds of silt and clay, and sandy water-deposited materials. Chamise soils normally contain a large number of water-rounded fragments of Monterey Shale. These soils are on dissected high terraces (or mesas) in widely scattered areas with elevations of 1500 feet above sea level. The higher elevation provides lower high temperatures and higher low temperatures for slow consistent ripening.
With few other vineyards in the area to learn from, the vineyard was originally planted with numerous varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Grenache, Chardonnay, and Syrah to see what would work. In 1978, Zaca Mesa was the first to plant Syrah in Santa Barbara County and over the years we have learned that the grapes varieties indigenous to the Rhône valley of France (Syrah, Grenache, Mouvrèdre, Cinsault, Viognier, Roussanne and Grenache Blanc) prosper in our vineyard.
Since 1997, we have focused on growing Syrah, Viognier and other Rhône varieties. We have ripped up over half the original vines, replacing them with high-density planting of new rootstock and clone combinations. We now have 10 clones of Syrah and the most high-density vineyard acres in the county.
Zaca Mesa “Estate Grown and Bottled” wines assures you a unique, terroir-based wine experience to share with your friends and family.
In 2002, the California Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers developed and published a Code of Sustainable Winegrowing. The overarching sustainability principles are: “Winegrowing and winemaking practices that are sensitive to the environment, responsive to the needs and interests of society-at-large, and economically feasible to implement and maintain.” Adherence to these principles is on a volunteer basis.
At Zaca Mesa, we have embraced the code in our winegrowing to ensure the health and sustainability of our vineyard, our employees, our neighbors and our environment. To create a healthier estate, we use organic products, conserve energy and water, and efficiently use materials to reduce waste. We farm only one-third of our total acreage, leaving open space for wildlife, providing a buffer for our neighbors, and preserving the natural ground water. Our goal is to achieve balance in the vineyard by learning to work with nature and viewing our estate as one living, breathing system.