Muse on the Fringe


Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard a favorite source for Rhône and Bordeaux fruit


2012 – (Arroyo Grande, CA) When seeking a muse for creating soulful Rhône and Bordeaux wines, many top winemakers are turning to the Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard on the eastern fringe of Santa Barbara County.


Hidden in the Santa Barbara County Mountains, Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard is situated in the Cuyama Valley, 50 miles east of the nearest city of Santa Maria.  “Highlands isn’t exactly bustling with tourists, which is a huge part of its appeal,” said Lino Bozzano, VP of Vineyard Operations for Laetitia Estate Vineyard & Winery, which owns the property.


Altitude is the most influential characteristic of the Highlands Vineyard on wines produced from its fruit. At elevations ranging from 2,200 to 3,400 feet above sea level, Highlands is one of the Central Coast’s highest altitude vineyards, making for a dramatic swing in temperature variation.  In fact, the temperature at the vineyard can vary by as much as 50 degrees in the span of 24 hours.  This vast diurnal swing is particularly beneficial for Rhône and Bordeaux varietal grapes, which need steady sunshine and warmth for full ripening, and cold nights to preserve the balance of natural acids.


Originally called “Barnwood Vineyards” Santa Barbara Highlands was established in 1982 by Larry Hogan, who saw uncanny similarities in terroir between Cuyama and Napa Valley.  While the property was acquired by Laetitia in 1998, Hogan continues to use fruit from Santa Barbara Highlands for his Stone Pine Estate and Sagebrush Annie’s wine labels.


Laetitia’s sister label, NADIA, is dedicated to showcasing Highlands Vineyard fruit.  Made by Laetitia Winemaker, Eric Hickey, new vintage releases include:

  • 2011 NADIA Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2010 NADIA White (a blend of Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne)
  • 2010 NADIA Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2010 NADIA Grenache


While NADIA wines have first pick at the Highlands Vineyard, a new wave of young, celebrated winemakers claim Highlands as a muse for their craft.  “I get over half of my fruit from Highlands, so I’m a big believer in the place,” saidCurt Schalchlin, winemaker for the cult brand Sans Liege Wines, whose Highlands wines consistently earn praise from fans and critics alike.  “It was my first love – my first vineyard source for my first vintage in 2003.  Highlands is a truly unique vineyard, and Vineyard Manager Lino Bozzano does an incredible job with it.  We are so grateful to him for the quality of the fruit out there.” Other Highlands devotees include McPrice Myers of McPrice Myers Wine Co.,Russell From of Herman Story Wines, and Angela Osborne of Grace Wine Co.


Since 1982, the Laetitia Estate Vineyard & Winery has produced elegant wines that champion the exceptional character and diversity of the Arroyo Grande Valley AVA.  Originally founded by an established French Champagne house, the Laetitia estate carries on in the longstanding traditions of Burgundy and Champagne with a focus on small-lot Pinot Noir and sparkling wines.  Valuing legacy, balance, innovation, and sustainable practices from harvest to glass, the Laetitia team works meticulously from vintage to vintage to ensure that every bottle of Laetitia wine is as expressive as the land from which it originates.  For more information about Laetitia Estate Vineyard & Winery please call 805-481-1772, 1-888-809-VINE, or visit Laetitia Estate Vineyard & Winery is located at 453 Laetitia Vineyard Drive, Arroyo Grande, CA 93420.


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CONTACT:    Jennifer L. Hamm

Parker Sanpei & Associates



Maralyn D. HillThe Epicurean Explorer

President, International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association

Editor-at-Large, CityRoom

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