In Santa Ynez Valley the word Chumash is synonymous with the area. They own hotels, restaurants and casinos but unbeknown to most is the vineyards and outstanding winery they own. Kitá Wines is an up and coming boutique winery featuring the wines of Santa Ynez Valley and Sta. Rita Hills.
In the Chumash Samala language Kitá means “Our Valley Oak”. The oak tree is the tree of the Santa Ynez Valley and like the tree; the grape is the fruit of the area. Therefore the wines of Kitá symbolize the spirit of the Santa Ynez Valley.
Balance is very important to the philosophy of this winery. Perhaps it represents an important aspect of the Chumash tribe. As you speak with winemaker Tara Gomez, she will frequently use the word balance. Balance can be interpreted in many ways in the wine growing and winemaking process. There is the balance between the earth, terrior and vine, nature and weather conditions or how the wine comes across to us. It is the relationship of all the components of wine blended together. You might even say in the case of Kitá Wines that this balance is a giving back to the land through sustainable practices.
Winemaker Tara Gomez, a member of the Chumash tribe, both oversees the vineyard and runs the winery. Tara began her career as an enologist for Fess Parker Winery. She moved on to J.Lohr and while there started her own label called Kalawashaq Wine Cellars. When she left J.Lohr, Tara went to Spain and worked for Castel d’Encus where she learned many of the old world techniques that she utilizes today. It was in 2010 when the Chumash purchased the Camp 4 Vineyards from Fess Parker that Tara was hired to be their winemaker. Tara’s wine practices include matching the coopers for the barrels to each of the varietals. She often likes to age her wines in 50% new oak and 50% neutral oak.
Tymari LoRe is the assistant winemaker. Tymari also spent time in Europe learning the old world methods. She shares the same passion and philosophy as Tara. One can see that the two make an excellent team. Just like the balance in the wines, Tara and Tymari compliment each other, working on an even keel. This is important in perfecting the consistency of the wine. One also sees a tremendous exuberance as Tymari shares the nuances of a bottle of wine.
In watching Tara and Tymari working together you realize Tara represents the seasoned soul while Tymari embodies the new. Almost like the yin and the yang forming a balance of the wiser experience with the new.
The Camp 4 Vineyard is at the very entrance to the Happy Canyon AVA. The vineyard is planted with 19 varietals of Rhone and Bordeaux grapes.
The consistency of the wines available from Kitá is outstanding. Every wine both white and red are excellent and worth tasting.
The 2011 Grenache Blanc, Camp 4 Vineyard with its wonderful refreshing sweetness is aged in stainless steel.
The 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Starlane Vineyard flourishes a grassy nose but has hints of green apple and tropical fruits, such as pineapple. This wine is aged in 20% neutral oak.
The 2012 Grenache Rosé, Camp 4 Vineyard exudes the essence of strawberries and raspberries. The nose is subtle while the wine is crisp and refreshing. There is a higher acid and lower alcohol content. The wine is created as if it were a white varietal. The wine is aged in stainless steel.
The 2010 Grenache, Camp 4 Vineyard has hints of strawberries and raspberries.
This medium bodied ruby colored wine is aged in 50% new oak for 18 months.
The 2011 Pinot Noir, Hilliard Bruce is a medium bodied wine with hints of strawberries and spice.
The 2010 Syrah, Camp 4 Vineyard displays a rich dark purple color with a bold and intense flavor of blackberries, making this a very full-bodied wine.
The surprise was the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Camp 4 Vineyard, a wine varietal not typically known to this region. An exceptional wine both in value and flavor. One savors the currants and blackberries immediately. This wine has won many awards and is on par with any Cabernet from Napa.
While attending another event, Kitá presented a barrel tasting that allowed one to taste the components of their 2012 Pinot Noir. Individually one tasted the four clones from Hilliard Bruce Vineyards. They were Clone 828, Clone 777, Calera and Clone 115 showing that once combined Kitá Wines will present yet again a superb Pinot Noir.
Kitá Wines has a tasting room in a newer industrial building in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto. On our visit, Kitá Wines was open by appointment only.
It will be exciting to follow the growth of Kitá Wines as it blossoms through time making its imprint on the wines of Santa Barbara County.
For more information:
300 North 12th St.
Lompoc, CA 93436
To find Kitá Wines click here.
If you would like to follow more of Cori Solomon’s articles, she would love you to subscribe to her column by clicking the box next to her photo.