Historic Vineyard Collection
The only wines from this collection that are in general distribution in the New York and New Jersey markets are from the Sanford & Benedict Vineyard. The other selections can be special ordered, so please inquire for further information.
Au Bon Climat continues its homage to the many outstanding vineyards in Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County with its special designation of “Historic Vineyard Collection.” Since its founding in 1982, Au Bon Climat has sourced grapes from some of the most celebrated vineyards on the Central Coast. Some might say that Clendenen himself has contributed significantly to the reputation of these sites.
The other vineyards included in this collection are the Los Alamos Vineyard, Sierra Madre Vineyard, Bien Nacido Vineyard, and Neilson Vineyard. A brief description of each vineyard site is below.
LOS ALAMOS VINEYARD
In 1982, Jim Clendenen, with his then partner Adam Tolmach, began making wine in a converted dairy barn on the Los Alamos Vineyard. This vineyard was purchased in the late 80’s and ABC was no longer able to get any fruit. In 2005, through new vineyard manager relationships, Au Bon Climat is very happy to be sourcing again from this “historic” source. This vineyard site is southwestern facing at an elevation of about 600 feet and has sandy loam soil.
SIERRA MADRE VINEYARD
Sierra Madre Vineyard, one of the western-most vineyards in the Santa Maria Valley, was first planted in 1971 by Harley Martin, a San Joaquin Valley grower. The vineyard has changed hands several times over the years and is now owned and managed by Doug Circle, a businessman and strawberry grower, who purchased the property from Mondavi in 2003. In the early ‘80s, wine critics began to take notice of Sierra Madre. Noted wine writer Mike Stepanovich called Sierra Madre Vineyard “one of the state’s – make that the nation’s – best Pinot Noir vineyards.”
In 1997, Mondavi, which had purchased Byron Winery in 1990 from Ken Brown, replanted the vineyard under Brown’s auspices, using a multitude of rootstock and clone combinations. This planting experiment is an important milestone in Sierra Madre’s history, and the outcome is a rich component in Sierra Madre’s terroir.
BIEN NACIDO VINEYARD
Owned by the Miller Family, the 1970s saw Bien Nacido Vineyard being developed as a commercial grape source with the Millers selling fruit primarily to large producers from grapes planted along the valley floor. It was in the 80s, that producers such as Jim Clendenen, Bob Lindquist, among others convinced the Millers to sell them fruit in smaller quantities. The early 90’s saw the planting of “custom blocks” with long-term acreage contracts for quality hillside vines. Today, much of what Au Bon Climat sources is fruit that has been planted “exclusively” for Au Bon Climat, along these hillside plantings. Bien Nacido is also home to the winery shared by Au Bon Climat.
Nielson Vineyard is the oldest commercial vineyard in Santa Barbara County. It was planted in 1964 with east-west rows and 12 x 6 spacing. Yields are 1 to 1.5 tons per acre in a normal year. The vineyard is now owned by Byron Winery (read Kendall Jackson), who has only replanted the occasional vine taken out by a gopher or tractor. Au Bon Climat was offered grapes in 2005, prior to the KJ purchase, and are pleased to still be sourcing fruit from this historic site.
Au Bon Climat has been lucky enough to acquire small amounts of grapes grown at Talley Vineyard since 1990. The Talley family is a farming family in the third generation. They have many crops growing in the Arroyo Grande Valley just east of the town of Arroyo Grande. The vineyards were planted in the late 1980s on rolling hills.
The Arroyo Grande Valley has a similar climate to the Santa Maria Valley. Both Valleys open to the Pacific Ocean and see quite a bit of fog in May, June, and even July. The Arroyo Grande Valley has significant marine influence, as it is closer to the ocean and has a more moderate the climate.