Riverbench Vineyard & Winery
Riverbench has been growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay since 1973 in Santa Barbara County. A group of local families bought the property in 2004 and beginning in 2006, the Riverbench label was born. The winemaker is veteran Chuck Ortman ("Mr. Chardonnay") who began his career at Heitz Cellars in 1968. He later founded Meridian Vineyards in Paso Robles, sourcing fruit for Meridian from Riverbench Vineyard. Jim Stollberg is the vineyard manager.
The Riverbench Vineyard is located on the Santa Maria Bench at the southeastern edge of the Santa Maria Valley. Planted in 1973, it is one of the Santa Maria Valley's first vineyards. Originally the vineyard consisted of 220 acres of Chardonnay and 55 acres of Pinot Noir. In 2007, an additional 37 acres of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Viognier was added. Farming is strictly sustainable.
The initial winemaker was Chuck Ortman who retired at the end of the 2011 vintage. Clarissa Nagy was appointed winemaker. She began her career as a lab technician in 1994 at Edna Valley Vineyards, moved through the roles of research assistant winemaker at Byron Winery, assistant winemaker and vineyard supervisor at Longoria Winery, and made wine for Bonaccorsi Wine Company since 2006.
There are three levels of Pinot Noir: Estate, Reserve and Mesa. In 2012, three sparkling wines were introduced from the 2010 vintage. The wines are sold online and at the tasting room which is housed in a newly restored 1920s craftsman style house located at 6020 Foxen Canyon Road on the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail. The tasting room is open from 10:00 to 4:00 daily. Vineyard and winery tours by appointment.
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