Portico Hills Vineyard: Terroir

Appellation

While still awaiting official AVA status, winegrowers in the Los Alamos area of Santa Barbara County recognize it as a distinct growing area because of its unique climate, discussed below.

Until this AVA is officially adopted, wines from this area are labeled, “Santa Barbara County.” Los Alamos Valley is characterized by cool nights and warm days, allowing grapes to achieve both concentration and balance.
 

Physical Location

Portico Hills Vineyard is located north of the town of Los Alamos, bordered by Hwy 101 and Hwy 135, 24 miles north of the city of Santa Barbara.
 

Topography

The topography of the Portico Hills property afforded us great opportunities to plant blocks on multiple slopes and aspects. Most planted acreage ranges from 10% to 25% slope, shaped like facets of a diamond, facing in every direction.  with whiteWhite varieties are planted on the flatter ground and red varieties are planted on the steeper slopes.

The hilly topography coupled with the sandy soil promotes drainage, creating the ideal conditions for growing wine grapes.
 

Climate

Los Alamos has a temperate climate and on average, is typically ten degrees cooler than Santa Ynez Valley to the south, and ten degrees warmer than Santa Maria Valley to the north.

The geographic orientation of Portico Hills is such that during the growing season, there are warm day- time temperatures and relatively cool night- time temperatures, allowing grapes to achieve both concentration and balance.
 

Soils

Portico Hills has two very distinctive soil profiles, both of which include sediment that overflowed from the San Antonio Creek that crosses the property. 

The hillside of about seventy acres is a sandy-loam with veins of limestone (Chamise shale loam). This soil type provides good drainage and heat retention. 

The second soil profile is a flat section in the front, Botella sandy-loam, about thirty acres. 

In a relatively cool climate vineyard such as Portico Hills, these soil qualities have been known to produce low yields of concentrated, highly aromatic fruit. 

 

Rainfall

Weather stations from nearby vineyards record an average annual precipitation of 15.5 inches in normal years.
 

Water

Water chemistry on the property is ideally matched to the soil profiles. Water comes from two separate aquifers.