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Racines (Northern California only)


Region

United StatesCalifornia

Etienne de Montille’s attraction to California is well-known to anyone who has spent time with him since he spent a formative year after high school exploring the food and wine scene here in 1982-83. The Golden State, in turn, has been a important market for his family’s wines since long before Etienne took over the helm in 1998, and it was only a matter of time before he followed through on the itch to make wine in this state. Brian Sieve, his American cellar master and right arm in Burgundy, traveled with Etienne on a road trip up and down the west coast in search of the region with the most promise for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with a Burgundian sensibility. This search soon focused on the Santa Rita Hills area of Santa Barbara County. Along the way, they hooked up with Justin Willett, a Santa Barbara native, accomplished winegrower at the helm of Tyler Vineyards and a friend of Brian’s. A few months later, while discussing the project with Rodolphe Peters, one of the most respected growers in Champagne, Etienne found another partner in what would become Racines.

This Burgundy/Champagne/California partnership has blossomed and the wines show a sensitivity to all three cultures and regions. The Santa Rita Hills terroir and Justin’s knowledge and mastery of it seem to mesh splendidly with the French winegrowers hypersensitivity to winegrowing for a sense of place. Through his contacts locally, they have landed an impressive group of vineyards to build from. The cool coastal climate and mineral based soils give them confidence in light of global warming and it’s clear that Justin’s winemaking style would be at home in either Burgundy or Champagne.