Fe Ciega


APPELATION: Sta. Rita Hills
SOILS: Tierra loam
ASPECT: South facing
VINE AGE: Planted in 1998
FARMING: Organic (non-certified)

Fe Ciega has been dear to Adam’s heart for years, so he leapt at the opportunity to purchase the property at the beginning of 2021. He’d been producing Fe Ciega Pinot Noir since 2003, when his fellow winemaker friend, Rick Longoria (of Longoria Wines), offered Adam some of the fruit. Rick had planted the vineyard back in 1998, initially calling it Blind Faith (from rock music came). But because the name was already copyrighted, Rick chose the Spanish translation: Fe Ciega.

Fe Ciega provides a wild and distinct personality; it’s so well situated for growing profound Pinot Noir. Located out on the western end of Sta. Rita Hills, it’s just west and across that Santa Ynez River from the seminal vineyard of the appellation, Sanford & Benedict. The vines are planted on a south-sloped mesa that elevates the vineyard just above and next to the western bends of the Santa Ynez River. That riverbed ferries cool Pacific breezes and fog over the area, buffering the southerly exposure and latitude of the vineyard. The soils are a clay loam called the Tierra series, which lays over a fractured shale and sandstone base.

Coupled with the mild climate, those soils lend a savory complexity to Pinot Noir—though it’s packed with fruit, it’s too deeply earthy to call the wine a “fruity” Pinot. There’s an appealing sense of spice, musk, and iron—some sauvage, if you will—balanced with silky fruit, framboise, and flowers. The abundance of character comes in tandem with an abundance of caution toward not picking the grapes too ripe, or extracting them too intensely. Adam learned early on that Fe Ciega can be a beast of Pinot. Done right though, there’s a fine balance of power and elegance.

Currently there are eight acres of Pinot Noir, comprised of four different clones. There are the heritage clones, Pommard and Mt. Eden, along with two Dijon selections, 115 and 667. In 2022, we’re planting some small blocks of Chardonnay and Syrah, and there’s a tiny section down by the river bottom where we’re trialing some Paseante Noir, the UC Davis varietal bred for Pierce’s Disease resistance. We’ve converted the vineyard to strictly organic farming, and are building the soil to enhance the vineyard’s resilience to drought. It’s all painfully expensive work, but Adam is excited as can be about everything the future holds for Fe Ciega.

Looking Southwest over the Fe Ciega mesa, with Sanford’s vineyards in the distance.