Owner and Winemaker, Justin Willett was born and raised in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated with a BA in History of Art and Architecture from the University of California-Santa Barbara. In 2005, while working as the Assistant Winemaker at Arcadian Winery, he started Tyler Winery with a focus exclusively on exceptional vineyard sites throughout the Sta. Rita Hills and Santa Maria Valley within Santa Barbara County. Overtime, he has developed relationships with specific growers, who have seen how he works, enjoyed the wines he produces as well as respect his viticultural knowledge of the area and his input of its terroir.
|APPELLATION(S)||Santa Barbara County, Santa Rita Hills|
|ANNUAL PRODUCTION||5,000 cs|
(SUSTAINABLE, ORGANIC, BIODYNAMIC)
The unique combination of marine-based soils, transverse ranges and valleys and cool ocean influence make Santa Barbara County an ideal place to grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which he considers the best mediums for expressing each vineyard site. They generally pick the grapes earlier than industry standard so that they have higher acidity and less sugar – therefore, less alcohol. This means that the wine will be a little more vibrant, but also age better.
In 2016, Justin acquired a 45 acre property with 26 of those acres currently planted exclusively to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. While the estate vines mature, Justin sources grapes from the following vineyards:
BENTROCK Sta. Rita Hills
Pinot Noir - Planted 2007 // Soil: Shale, Clay Loam // Vineyard Area: 1.22 acres | 0.49 ha
LA ENCANTADA Sta. Rita Hills
Chardonnay - Planted 2000 // Soil: Clay, Loam // Vineyard Area: 1 acre | 0.41 ha
Pinot Noir - Planted 2000 // Soil: Clay, Shale, Loam // Vineyard Area: 1.27 acres | 0.51 ha
LA RINCONADA Sta. Rita Hills
Chardonnay - Planted 1999 // Soil: Clay Loam // Vineyard Area: 1.3 acre | .53 ha
Pinot Noir - Planted 1999 // Soil: Chert, Clay Loam // Vineyard Area: .7 acres | 0.28 ha
SANFORD & BENEDICT Sta. Rita Hills
Chardonnay - Planted 1971 // Soil: Chert-Gravel, Clay // Vineyard Area: 1.5 acres | 0.61 ha
Pinot Noir Old Vines - Planted 1971 // Soil: Chert-Gravel, Clay // Vineyard Area: 0.96 acres | 0.39 ha
ZOTOVICH FAMILY Sta. Rita Hills
Chardonnay - Planted 1998 // Soil: Sand // Vineyard Area: 0.8 acres | 0.32 ha
DIERBERG Santa Maria Valley
Chardonnay - Planted 1997 // Soil: Clay, Shale, Sand // Vineyard Area: 2.86 acres | 1.16 ha
Pinot Noir - Planted 1997 // Soil: Clay, Loam // Vineyard Area: 2.05 acres | 0.83 ha
BIEN NACIDO Santa Maria Valley
Chardonnay - Planted 1973, 1995 // Soil: Clay, Shale // Vineyard Area: 1.31 acres | 0.53 ha
Pinot Noir - Planted 1973, 1999, 2002 // Soil: Clay, Shale, Loam // Vineyard Area: 1.01 acres | 0.41 ha
Tyler is dedicated to producing wines of delicacy and balance, where structure and nuance are favored above all else.
Grapes are harvested at night into 20lbs trays, hand-picked and brought to the winery at daybreak whereclusters are sorted by hand. The decision to include stems is based on the growing season. For the mostpart, they typically destem the Pinot and experiment each year with whole cluster. Fruit arrives cold, and ittypically takes 3-5 days for the must to warm to 20°C and to start to see activity – all native yeast. They use acombination of punch downs and pump-overs (juice generally stays on stems for two weeks dependent on thetannin, taste and color). The wine is pressed first to tank and then to barrel (all French oak). Single vineyardwines see 25-50% new wood dependent on vineyard, vine age and vintage. Appellation wine, less than 10%new wood. After a year on the lees, it’s racked, blended and put back to barrel for a few months. Finally the wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Grapes are harvested at night and again hand picked and put into 1/2 ton bins. Fruit is pressed whole cluster– juice is exposed to oxygen – no CO2 or SO2 added. Next, the juice goes to tank and settles overnight and then racked to another tank. As the juice gets to cellar temperature, native fermentation occurs. The wine is carefully watched for a significant drop in brix. When they see the first large drop, the wine is transferred into barrel – either 550L puncheons or 220L barriques. Wine spends 10 months in barrel and is then racked off of the lees to tank. The wine rests in tank 3-4 months prior to bottling. Single vineyard wines see less than 10% new wood . Appellation wine sees no new wood. They do not use batonnage, and the wines go through full malolactic fermentation. Whites are lightly filtered prior to bottling.
Currently, 12 different bottlings are produced each year from 22 parcels within 7 different vineyard sites. Total production is approximately 5,000 cases annually.