Star Lane Vineyard, located at the far eastern end of the Santa Ynez Valley, is both the warmest and the highest elevation vineyard in the appellation. Backing up to the lower slopes of the San Rafael Mountains, which loom high above the ranch, Star Lane unfolds itself in its own pristine valley. Traveling 22 degrees North by North East the Star Lane vineyard blocks climb from the canyon floor to the benchlands above and, ultimately to the highest mountain tops sites-each area contributing a unique element to the resulting wines.
The wines at Hermannhof are good, but the Missouri climate is not conducive to growing the European varietals that have made France and California famous. It was only a matter of time before the couple would seek out a new winemaking perspective. They purchased Star Lane in 1996. "All the local farmers knew this was one of the warmest spots in the area," Jim recalls. After consultation with renowned Central Coast grower Dale Hampton and soil scientist Paul Skinner, the Dierbergs realized that the land was best suited to growing Cabernet and its related varietals. They started with 100 acres.
Later in 1996, they bought a cooler vineyard site better suited to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay a bit farther north in Santa Maria. And in January of 2004, they added a new property in the Santa Rita Hills, also suitable for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. These two vineyards are called, fittingly, Dierberg.
Currently, the winemaking couple are constructing their dream winery on the Star Lane property. It's dug into the hillside for efficient use of energy and will host some 26,000 square feet of caves for barrel aging. "We're excited about having a facility that will allow us to do justice to the terroir, which has already proved to be capable of producing wines of great distinction," Jim notes with pride.
|Winemaker: Andy Alba|
Best LCBO Brand: Star Lane Astral Cabernet (coming in July)
Distribution: Kylix Wines. Agent in Ontario