Sweeney Canyon is a small, family owned and operated vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills of Santa Barbara County. It was planted by the Marks family, beginning in 1980, and we have farmed it continuously ever since, supplying Chardonnay grapes to such wineries as Babcock, Brewer-Clifton, Firestone, Gainey, LaFond, Longoria, Melville, Sanford, and Santa Barbara. The vineyard was planted to 18.5 acr... Read more
Sweeney Canyon is a small, family owned and operated vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills of Santa Barbara County. It was planted by the Marks family, beginning in 1980, and we have farmed it continuously ever since, supplying Chardonnay grapes to such wineries as Babcock, Brewer-Clifton, Firestone, Gainey, LaFond, Longoria, Melville, Sanford, and Santa Barbara. The vineyard was planted to 18.5 acres of the Wente clone, on its own roots in the deep, gravely loam of the Santa Ynez River. The vines have been “dry-farmed” for more than 20 years. Growing on a bench overlooking the river, they sink their roots deep into the alluvium, and give their fruit rich and complex flavors unique to this locale. The results are wines both graceful and powerful in aromatics, fruit flavors, acidity and texture.
Throughout this time, we have made small amounts of wine for our own consumption, both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, from cuttings we made ourselves. In 2000 and 2001, we made a somewhat larger quantity of Chardonnay, fermented in stainless steel, and bottle aged ever since. As it has aged, it has developed elegance and complexity without the oxidation one might expect from a barrel fermented wine.
In 2002, we grafted an acre of Chardonnay to Pinot Noir clone 777. Grapes harvested from 2003 to 2005 were blended into other wines, but in 2006 we made 75 cases ourselves. In 2007, we grafted 4 acres to clone 115, which should give us a small crop in 2008. Our Pinot Noir has never been irrigated, so the yields are small, but the flavors intense.
In 2006, we crushed six tons of Chardonnay. Part was tank fermented, and part went into French oak barrels. After a few months, we put it all together in a variety of French barrels. We bottled 120 cases in August, 2007, and left the rest in barrels for another six months. We bottled another 240 cases in February, 2008. Both are lovely wines, though quite different.
Today we are pleased to offer you Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from vines we have planted and tended ourselves for the past 28 years. In fermenting and aging the wines, we have endeavored to retain the unique character of our vineyard. The vines are old and the yields are small. It is a site with sunny days, cool nights, and a long growing season. The grapes ripen very slowly, retaining their high acidity even as sugars climb to 25 degrees brix or higher. The result is a rich blend of spices and fruit flavors that just get better in the barrel, the bottle and the glass.
Wine is made in the vineyard. As winegrowers, our objective is to bring forth the unique character of our vines with minimal handling of the wine, doing only what is necessary to optimize the flavors and aromas of the grape. We hope you enjoy our selection of very distinctive wines.