To best appreciate the wines made by The Hilt Estate, ideally one would visit the dramatic and even extreme vineyards where the grapes are farmed. Just as all great wines tell the story of their place of origin, The Hilt’s pinot noirs and chardonnays are the bold expressions of the unique estate in the highly regarded viticultural area known as the Sta. Rita Hills. By employing innovative viticultural practices, selecting clones strategically, and making the most of the coastal influence, winds, and soils, Winemaker Matt Dees is pushing the vineyards to the hilt of their potential and creating wines that are lively, fresh, and well structured.
In the summer of 2014, The Hilt acquired the historic 3,600-acre Rancho Salsipuedes, setting the stage for the ultimate home of The Hilt Estate. Located in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA in northwestern Santa Barbara County, California, the property is home to two distinct vineyards, Radian and Bentrock, on the original Rancho Salsipuedes, once known as Rancho Cañada de Salsipuedes. In Spanish, “cañada” means “canyon.” “Salsipuedes” (pronounced sahl-see-PWAY-days) means “get out if you can.” The warning refers to the narrow canyons that Salsipuedes Creek travels through on its way to the ocean.
The Hilt Estate is an untamed landscape of steep hills, windswept ridges, and fog-blanketed canyons. The Estate’s north facing vineyards command the lower left quadrant of the Sta. Rita Hills, closest to the Pacific Ocean. Here, exposed to the Pacific Ocean’s rough winds and cool maritime influence, The Hilt’s chilly, sun-drenched vineyards present a grape grower with some of the worst possible conditions for farming. For Winemaker Matt Dees, however, the opportunities and sense of discovery presented by The Hilt Estate make them the most exciting vineyards one could imagine.