Jorian Hill - Syrah and Viognier  
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P.O. Box 375 Solvang CA 93463 - 805.686.8490

 
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Jorian Hill Vineyards and Viticulture Profile

Jorian Hill’s estate vineyard is located on the steep hillsides of Ballard Canyon in Santa Barbara County’s acclaimed Santa Ynez Valley winegrowing region. The vineyard has been carved from the land into terraces that contour to the site’s natural topography. Home to 7.5 acres of hand-tended vineyards, and home to the Newman family, this beautiful property is farmed using both organic and sustainable methods to ensure the health of the vines, and the well-being of the people who live and work at Jorian Hill.

Meticulously cared for by renowned vineyard manager Jeff Newton, his skilled team, and a full-time, onsite vineyard caretaker, the cultivation of Jorian Hill focuses on accentuating the varietal character of Syrah, Viognier and Grenache. Building on the work of the previous owners—who originally planted the site in 1999—Jeff and the Newmans approach the vineyard as a passionate work in progress, continually refining viticultural techniques in order to enhance quality.

Because of its unique location and rare southwest-facing hillside terraces, Jorian Hill benefits from a distinctive microclimate that has proven ideal for the cultivation of classic Rhône varietals. Striking a balance between the cool weather of the Santa Rita Hills to the west, and the warmer zones of the Santa Ynez Valley to the east, Ballard Canyon is neither too cool, nor excessively warm. The result is a vineyard with all-day sunlight to ensure full ripening, and clockwork afternoon breezes to moderate temperatures and deter parasites. In addition, the site’s weather imbues the fruit with excellent natural acidity and low pH levels, yielding food-friendly wines that display structure and aging potential.

The vineyard’s exceptional gravelly loam soil drains well and is planted to 5,080 Syrah vines, 1.282 Viognier vines, 1,272 Grenache vines and 182 Mourvèdre vines. In order to achieve a broader palette of flavors for its estate-grown Syrah, Jorian Hill uses three different clones: the French Noir Clone, U.C. Davis Clone 1, and Clone 877. To counter the inherent vigor of Syrah, all three have been planted on 1103 P rootstock – a rootstock that keeps growth in check, and allows for generous hangtime and good fruit maturity. Jorian Hill’s Viognier is an Alban Field Select Clone also planted using 1103 P rootstock. To ensure ample competition between the vines, fewer spurs, and reduced yields, the vineyard is planted using 4-by-8 foot spacing.

Based on the grade and accessibility requirements of the terraces, the vineyard is predominantly planted using vertical shoot positioning to limit yields, and the entire trellising system is reinforced in order to guarantee proper canopy balance and ideal fruit development. In addition, bird netting is used to further protect the vines.

The vineyard utilizes a drip irrigation system drawing from pure, unchlorinated well water, and uses emitters on either side of the vines. Jeff and his team constantly monitor and adjust water levels to ensure that the proper amount of energy goes toward quality fruit production instead of leaf and plant production.

In keeping with the organic and sustainable farming practices used, all weeding in the vineyard is meticulously done by hand. To guarantee low yields and good vine balance—both keys to quality—Jeff and the winemaking team apply rigorous pruning methods. This approach begins with coordinated early pruning to ensure even budbreak, timely shoot positioning, as well as significant thinning and fruit drops. For Syrah vines, the Jorian Hill team practices spur pruning, with cane pruning being the preferred method for Viognier. As a result, the vineyard achieves excellent vine balance, and produces average yields of approximately 2 tons per acre for both Syrah and Viognier. These low yields increase fruit concentration without taxing the relatively youthful plants.

As part of the sustainable approach that defines the vineyard, native populations of clover and grass are grown between the vine rows to maintain a habitat for beneficial insects that help fight pests. Mowed and left to mulch, these grasses, when combined with an extensive composting program, add nitrogen and other useful organics to the vineyard, promoting soil health without the use of invasive chemicals. This process also increases the tilth of the soil, resulting in better water penetration, less evaporation and reduced total water consumption. To further defend against unwanted pests and mildew, the vineyard crew uses several cutting-edge organic soil and vine treatments.

Though expensive and time consuming, the vineyard practices used at Jorian Hill are yielding exceptional results, elevating this naturally vibrant vineyard to its full potential. To capture this expressive character, and the diversity of the site, Jorian Hill’s winemaker does numerous small-lot fermentations (as small as half a ton) to maintain the purity of individual blocks. Following from this hands-on approach, Jorian Hill produces a small portfolio of estate wines that includes Syrah, Viognier and the winery’s Rhône-varietal BEEspoke blend.

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