Solomon Hills Vineyard is the most coastal vineyard up in cool foggy Santa Maria Valley. It’s also the sister vineyard to Bien Nacido, so it too is farmed with same doting attention to detail. The site consists of a series of gently rolling hills of sand next to Highway 101, at the western edge of the appellation. Being so close to the ocean, Solomon Hills is exceptionally cool and foggy in a region where that is the norm (the Miller family also grows blueberries here, which might give you an idea of the climate).
The marginal weather and the extremely poor sandy soils make low yields and intense fruit the name of the game. When the vines are flowering in spring the weather is often moist and cool, which makes it difficult to get good fruit set. And being planted on nutrient-poor sand means the berries and clusters stay quite small, which is great for making wines with vibrancy and character.
We made many Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs here over many years. These days we just have Syrah at Solomon Hills, from a teensy half-acre block that was planted as an experiment to see if Syrah would even ripen in this super-coastal enviornment. It does, with a haunting earthy complexity and profound savoriness. We usually can only make two barrels of this wine, four in a great year, and it’s consistently outstanding. It has been in featured in multiple editions of Karen MacNeil’s The Wine Bible.