Watch Hill Vineyard is located in Los Alamos Valley, a relatively cool site about half-way between Santa Maria and Buellton. It is cooler than the Santa Ynez Valley but a bit warmer than the Santa Maria Valley. Los Alamos is not an official AVA, but there is quite a bit Chardonnay and Pinot Noir planted there. Meliville’s “Verna’s Vineyard” is located in Los Alamos as well as the White Hawk Vineyard.
At Watch Hill there is a large main planting there of about 20 acres and then a smaller 2 acre steep hillside block called “Sam’s Vineyard.” This has always been one of my favorite Syrah vineyards in Santa Barbara County. I helped select the clone and rootstock (clone 383 on S04 for all you technical folks) when it was first planted back in 2002 and have worked with the grapes every year since then. Across the ridge from Watch Hill is Thompson Vineyard which has been growing great Syrah for years and another little vineyard formerly called Tres Burros (recently purchased by Manfred Krankel of Sine Qua Non) that we made wine from in 2009.
Usually the vine here produce clusters that are small and the wine is dark and true to the variety. The soils here are a mix of sand and clay and somewhat low in nutrients. The vineyard is surrounded by a horse pasture on one side and a group of noisy chickens on the other. The grapes here ripen slowly and are usually ready for harvest in the final week of October.