Alta Maria Winery & Vineyards

Owner(s) Sao Anish, Murphy Family, James Ontiveros, Paul Wilkins
Web site
Link to this site

Alta Maria was initially a partnership between winemaker Paul Wilkins (formerly Alban Cellars), James Ontiveros (Rancho Ontiveros Vineyard and Bien Nacido Vineyard) and Sao Anash established in 2005.. In 2012, the Murphy family, who own Presqu'ile Winery, became partners, and wine production for the Alta Maria label was moved to the new winemaking facility at Presqu'ile.

A popular priced Pinot Noir is produced from several Santa Maria Valley vineyard sources and is meant to represent a "snapshot" of the Santa Maria Valley.

The wines are sold primarily through a mailing list at with some retail sales. The phone is 805-714-1732.

Reviewed Wines

2014 alta maria Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $15.70 - $4.71, screwcap. Produced and bottled by alta maria Vineyards, St. Helena, CA. Winemakers are James Ontiveros and Joseph Wagner. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. The nose is not particularly appealing, offering scents of fertile earth, crushed purple grapes and oak splinter. Light to mid weight in style, featuring a core of blackberry fruit offset with a noticeable overlay of burnt toast. Soft tannins and a very modest finish. This wine has the backbone of Pinot Noir but the burnt tone may or may not appeal. Score: 86. Reviewed October 8, 2017 ARTICLE »

2013 Alta Maria Carbonic Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., $24. A Cru Beaujolais style Pinot Noir made with 100% carbonic maceration of whole cluster grapes without crushing or pumping over the free draining juice and bottled 4 months after harvest. · Light garnet color in the glass. A little funky upon opening, cleaning up over time in the glass to reveal aromas of red berries, red cherry, spice, candied ginger and rose petal. Light and bright flavors of strawberry, cranberry and red cherry with no detectable tannins. Drinks like a substantial rosé and like a rosé, should have some chill on it. Score: 86. Reviewed October 6, 2014 ARTICLE »

2012 Alta Maria Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., $52. First Bien Nacido bottling in 6 years. Sourced from 40-year-old, own-rooted vines which are some of the first planted in the Santa Maria Valley. 100% whole cluster fermented. Aged 17 months in French oak. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Appealing aromas of cherry and red berry with a hint of oak. Light to medium weight flavors of red and dark red fruits with an herbal, earthy underpinning. The tannins are well integrated, and the wine finishes with plenty of dried cherry goodness and a cut of good acidity. Oak plays a supportive role. A little reserved at this stage, needing at least another year in the cellar. Score: 89-90. Reviewed October 6, 2014 ARTICLE »

2010 Alta Maria Vineyards Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.69, TA 0.53, 4200 cases, $28. Aged 17 months in 33% new French oak barrels. Sixth vintage. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of cherries, berries, red plum and spice. Mid weight pleasing flavors echo the nose. The “Santa Maria” spice component is vivid and quite evident on the finish. A well-crafted wine perfect for the dinner table. Good (+). Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »

2009 Alta Maria Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., $24. Sourced from Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills vineyards among others. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Alluring aromas of black cherries, berries, wood spice and toast. Flavorful red and black cherries, raspberries, and red plum with supportive oak notes. Medium-weighted and crisp with some length on the finish. Well-structured with fine-grain tannins and comes across refined and silky on the palate. A terrific value. Very good. Reviewed November 2, 2011 ARTICLE »

2008 Alta Maria Vineyards Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., $23. Moderate color. · Lovely scent of black cherries, baking and peppery spices, and subtle oak toast. Light and easy in the mouth with tasty black cherry and darker berry flavors caressed by dry fine grain tannins. Some persistence on the fruity finish which displays a grassy, vegetal note. Good. Reviewed January 27, 2011 ARTICLE »

2006 Alta Maria Vineyards Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 2230 cases, $45. 100% Bien Nacido Vineyard, composed of clone 115 fully de-stemmed from N Block and Pommard clone partially whole cluster from Q Block. Final blend 25% whole cluster. Aged 11 months on original lees in 70% new French oak. · Aromas of black cherry and smoke lead off with a black cherry backbone buttressed by anise and oak spice. Silky in texture, fine-grained tannins and a fruity and aromatic finish that last 30 seconds. Plenty to like in this wine and recommended. Reviewed March 3, 2008 ARTICLE »

2005 Alta Maria Bien Nacido Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

Just fine in every way and will gain in stature with a little aging. Seductive fruit with fine sweet tannins and excellent length. Reviewed March 5, 2007 ARTICLE »

2005 Alta Maria Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 2040 cases, $37. Bien Nacido Vineyard N Block and Q Block. · Dark purple in color. Fruit, fruit and more fruit. A luscious core of sweet dark Pinot fruits from start to finish. Everexpanding voluptuous flavors which seem to never end on the tangy and lengthy finish. Brilliantly crafted and everything you could hope for in a California styled Pinot Noir. I could sip this one all night long. Reviewed November 12, 2007 ARTICLE »

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