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Screaming Eagle Producer Bolsters The Hilt, Its Santa Barbara Label

October 27, 2015

The Hilt, sister winery to Jonata in Santa Barbara County, plans to launch new Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines under the Santa Rita Hills appellation. The first release will be the 2014 vintage, shipping in 2016 and 2017. Armand de Maigret, estate manager for The Hilt and Jonata as well as Screaming Eagle in the Napa Valley, expects the wines to retail at around $45. The Hilt produced about 2,500 cases last year, and this new appellation should add a further 1,000-2,000 cases annually. The Hilt is known for its Vanguard and Old Guard Labels.

Commenting on Santa Barbara’s 2015 harvest, de Maigret said the vineyards suffered a water-deprived campaign that resulted in “very small berries, but very good skins.” He estimates Jonata’s yields this season at about 1.7 tons an acre, down nearly 20% from the 2.1-ton average of previous years.

At Screaming Eagle, about 17% of the crop was lost due to drought, as well as high winds in late May, de Maigret said. But quality was excellent, leaving the estate poised for another great vintage. Harvesting came between August 18 and September 12, mostly missing the intense period of heat around Labor Day. “Screaming Eagle has been phenomenal for the past three vintages, and 2015 will be in that zone of excellence,” de Maigret added. The 2015 vintage, which will ship in spring 2018, will likely fall below Screaming Eagle’s peak of 900 cases in the 2012 vintage.


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