Peake Ranch: New Releases from the Sta. Rita Hills

Founded in 2012 by John and Gillian Wagner of Los Angeles, Peake Ranch occupies 105 acres (50 planted) on the southeastern end of the Santa Rita Hills on Santa Rosa Road.  The plantings at the ranch include seven different clones of Pinot Noir, three clones of Chardonnay and two each of Syrah and Grenache.  While located in the warmer part of the Valley, the plantings at Peake Ranch take full advantage of the cool air that comes off the Pacific Ocean and of the different exposures from the variety of north, south, east and west-facing slopes on the property.

Peake Ranch also sources grapes from two other  excellent vineyards  owned by the Wagners: : the  one-thousand  acre John Sebastiano Vineyard (15% planted)  located on the eastern edge of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, which is the source of  fruit for the Peake Ranch Syrah, and the very cold Sierra Madre Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley, the source for their blended and single vineyard  Chardonnays.

Winemaking is in the competent hands of Wynne Solomon, a graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.  Wynne worked at Melville before moving to Peake Ranch and overlapped with the veteran winemaker Paul Lato who made the first vintage at Peake Ranch in 2014.

On our previous visit two years ago when preparing our report  The Wines of Sta Rita Hills, the wines at Peake Ranch were still being produced by Paul Lato. However, on this visit we tasted Wynne Solomon’s wines from the 2019 vintage  and were most impressed. They are refined and elegant, qualities associated with the top premium wines of the  Sta Rita Hills.

The 2019 growing season in the Sta Rita Hills was relatively cool, providing ideal conditions for producing  wines with good acidity, freshness and  excellent flavor. Peake Ranch produced  about 4,200 cases in 2019.

The Wines

2019 Peake Ranch Chardonnay Santa Barbara County ($40) 93   This Chardonnay is a blend of grapes from  different blocks of the Peake Ranch Vineyard and the Sierra Madre Vineyard in Santa Maria.  It displays aromas of lemon grass and citrus. Aged in  39% new French oak, it  exhibits excellent balance and good acidity with fresh fruit flavors and  a silky mouth feel.

Peake Ranch 2019 Chardonnay Sierra Madre Vineyard Santa Maria Valley ($55) 95   The Chardonnay Sierra  Madre displays riper  aromas than the Chardonnay Santa Barbara County along with minerals and notes of orchard and pit fruit. Aged in 45% new French oak, it offers bright acidity and a firm structure with very good extract.  It is also long on the palate.

Peake Ranch 2019 Pinot Noir Sta Rita Hills ($40) 93  A blend of John  Sebastiano and Peake Ranch vineyards, this Pinot Noir displays a dark red color and offers aromas of  cherry with light stem/underbrush and herbal  notes.  It is quite delicious with nice concentration and  round tannins on the palate and a long finish.  Sourced from several clones including Dijon 115, 667, Hyde and Calera with 10% whole cluster. Aged in 45% new French oak.

Peake Ranch 2019 Pinot Noir Peake Ranch Sta Rita Hills ($65) 92   The Peake Ranch 2019 Pinot Noir is a single vineyard bottling sourced from the Hyde and Calera heritage clones.  It offers spicy red cherry and herbs on the palate and a rich sensation of sweetness and bramble on the palate with lots of ripe, red fruit.  A vineyard parcel selection aged in 55% new French oak.

Peake Ranch 2019 Pinot Noir John Sebastiano Vineyard Sta Rita Hills ($65)92 The  single vineyard Pinot Noir from the John Sebastiano Vineyard displays a medium light red. color and a spicy red- fruited brambly  nose. Brambly  More savory and less sweet than the Peake Ranch. Pinot Noir, it is aged in 55% new French oak.

Peake Ranch 2019 Bellis Noir Sta Rita Hills ($40) 95   The 2019 Bellis Noir is a charming Rhone-style  blend of   75% Syrah, 16%  Grenache,  and 9% Pinot Noir  sourced from the Peake Ranch and John Sebastiano Vineyards.  It  displays a medium red color and has a savory, red fruited nose with darker fruit and herbal notes.on the palate   It is an attractive and complex blend  of  flavors with a light earthy accents.

Peake Ranch 2019 Syrah Peake  Ranch Sta Rita Hills  ($65) 93  This recently bottled  cool climate Syrah, sourced from the Alban clone, offers a spicylight red fruited nose.with red berries and warm cooking spices.  It is firm and earthy  on the palate with elegance,  good freshness and bright acidity.  Aged 40%  in new French oak.

Peake Ranch 2019 Syrah John Sebastiano Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills ($65) 93   This more traditional  Syrah is richer and heavier than the Peake Ranch bottling. It offers dark red fruit aromas and flavors that this higher and more exposed vineyard. Fermented with 25% whole cluster and aged in 50% new French oak.   Syrah with a long  rich finish.

Peake Ranch 2019 Grenache lPeake Ranch Sta Rita Hills ($65) 94  Not yet released, this lovely Grenache offers strawberry jam on the  nose.  Soft on entry but firm on palate , it displays excellent  acidity and freshness backed by rich    red berry fruit—raspberry, strawberry with a  hint of pomegranate.  Long and finely focused with good extract on the  finish.  A very fine Grenache to look forward to enjoying when it reaches the market.

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