The Wines of Cambria Estate

by artfuldiner on June 10, 2022

in Artful Diner Review, Breaking News, Opinion, Wine, Wining and Dining

Cambria - Jill Russell, Winemaker 2When people think about California wines, they generally have Napa Valley in mind. However, there is another long-standing wine region that is home to remarkable winemaking. Though often overlooked as a top wine destination, Santa Barbara County is home to some of the most diverse soils and vineyards.

Family-owned and sustainably-farmed, the Cambria Estate Winery is a remarkable property with each wine bearing the Cambria name grown, produced and bottled on the estate. With vineyards dating back to the early 1970s, Cambria Estate helped establish Santa Maria Valley as a world class wine producing region.

The now-deceased Jess Jackson and his wife, Barbara Banke, established Cambria in 1986 after purchasing what was originally known as the Tepusquet Vineyards. Today, the winery is owned and operated by Ms. Banke, with her daughters, Julia and Katie Jackson, serving as co-proprietors. The Kendall-Jackson property covers more than 1,400 acres and is located 17 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean in Santa Maria, California. The cool sea air blankets the vines in a maritime fog, creating a unique climate that is ideally suited for the cultivation of chardonnay and pinot noir.

Under the watchful eye of winemaker Jill Russell (pictured), every wine produced on the Estate is sourced from a single vineyard and certified sustainable. But the two primary vineyards producing chardonnay and pinot noir, respectively, are named after the above-mentioned Julia and Katie Jackson. These vineyards are marked by both a depth of character and history of excellence – most recently when Wine & Spirits magazine named Cambria Winery one of the “Top 100 Wineries of 2020.”

Cambria - Katherine's Vineyard Chard 20192019 Cambria Katherine’s Vineyard Chardonnay: The critical acclaim for this wine has been nothing short of spectacular. Wine critic Antonio Galloni of Vinous bestowed 94 points and called it “fabulous… This classic Santa Maria Chardonnay hits all the right notes.” Wine Enthusiast added 93 points, designated it an “Editors’ Choice,” and chimed in: “Winemaker Jill Russell does wonders with this widely available wine.” Wine Spectator and Wilfred Wong of contributed 91 and 90 points, respectively.

This lovely medium-bodied chard is plush, creamy, and easy to drink. And there’s just enough oak to gently caress rather than smother those fragile fruit flavors. Add a hint of spice, a nice touch of acidity, a lingering finish, and you have a real crowd-pleaser.

The price is a real crowd-pleaser as well. Retailing at $21.99, in Wayne, New Jersey, currently has it on sale for $16.99 (plus shipping). The really good news, however, is that this little beauty is also available via special order from Pennsylvania State Stores for only $14.99.

Cambria - Julia's Vineyard Pinot Noir 20192019 Cambria Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir: I have always been an avid fan of pinot noir, and Cambria’s 2019 Julia’s Vineyard is particularly recommendable. This is an attractive, kind of easy-going wine that can handle a minimum of cellaring but is drinking well right now. It’s a bright translucent red colored pinot with interesting aromas of cranberry and pomegranate.

On the palate, it’s medium-bodied – but feels as light as a feather – beautifully textured, and smooth as silk. There are subtle spice notes here, and a kind of “earthiness” that complements the perfectly balanced tannins. Not as lush and plush as some pinots, but what it lacks in depth it makes up for in elegance and finesse.

Wine critic Jeb Dunnuck refers to this wine as “value-priced”; noting, in fact, that “it tastes as if it cost 2-3 times the price.” And he’s right on target. The 2019 Julia’s Vineyard retails around the $25.99 mark., noted above, currently has it on sale for $19.99 (plus shipping). Once again, however, there is good news from the PA State Store front, as it is available via special order for a mere $16.99.


Be Safe & Stay Well


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