Thanks to the awesome hospitality of the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association, I recently had the pleasure of visiting Holman Ranch to taste with father and son winemakers Greg and Chris Vita. They produce two labels of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and sparkling for them: Holman Ranch and Jarman, both sourced from estate vineyards in the northern tip of the Carmel Valley appellation.
After the requisite tour of the stunning, nostalgic, Holman Ranch flagship property where weddings and parties occur (and most of their wine gets consumed), Greg and Chris took us on an ATV tour of the vineyards, so we could experience the expansive view from the top of the hill and admire the terraced vineyards beneath. It did not disappoint! I don’t remember seeing the ocean, but the vineyards are less than 15 miles from the “Blue Grand Canyon,” so the unique coastal climate influence in strong effect.
For those of you as unfamiliar with Monterey wine country as I was, here’s the basic scene:
- There is a HUGE underwater canyon in the Monterey Bay that is similar in size and shape to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Its deep, cold waters influence the vineyards with a continual layer of morning fog, and wide-ranging temperatures from the north to the south end of the Monterey growing regions.
- There are 9 smaller AVAs in Monterey County’s umbrella AVA of California’s Central Coast: Monterey, Carmel Valley, Santa Lucia Highlands, Arroyo Seco, Chalone, San Lucas, San Antonio Valley, Hames Valley, and San Bernabe.
- 46,000 acres of vineyards are planted, and there are currently 82 bonded wineries in the area.
After the property tour, we were funneled into the ranch cellar good and thirsty, and tasted wine from barrel as well as a selection of finished wines. They were so good. Structure, elegance, and acidity formed a pure expression of place, with finesse and precision — all a cool-climate California wine-lover could ask for, made by winemakers more interested in the wines they make than their own image. They use 100% French Oak fermentation, and prioritize minerality, with wines balanced between earth and fruit in both the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
These are tiny production wines. I highly recommend getting on their mailing list to try them yourself.