We are dedicated to producing only small lots of handcrafted wines from the Santa Maria Valley while maintaining the natural delicacy of the grapes. Over the past two decades, J. Wilkes wines have been made by sourcing high quality fruit from Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills Vineyards
Located in the heart of Santa Maria, California.
- Producing wines that reflect the typicity and natural delicacy of the Santa Maria Valley.
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Perez adds, “The wines of the Santa Maria Valley appellation have always held a special place in my heart. They have a personality very much all their own and when well made, they can really express a unique terroir. I am honored to be continuing, in any small way that I can, the great legacy that Mr. Wilkes left behi
Estate Vineyards / AVA
One need only turn to the East-West transverse valley that runs through Santa Maria Valley. This transverse valley acts as a funnel, channeling in cool maritime influences and depositing them throughout the wide valley that is Santa Maria. Ocean temperatures just off the coast of Santa Maria are typically about 15 degrees C (55 to 59 F). The Coriolis effect, an upwelling of deeper, colder waters, further cools the ocean breezes coming in off the coast of the Pacific and into the Santa Maria Valley. The cool winds coming in from the Northwest, coupled with the Coriolis effect, serve to push cold ocean water the surface. The transverse valley then allows these cold water winds to funnel into the Santa Maria Valley, cooling it substantially.
If the Santa Maria Valley was not situated at this southerly latitude, it would not be warm enough to ripen grape varietals to full maturity. It is, therefore, this singular combination of elements that allows Santa Maria Valley to produce wines of such distinction and typicity.
The number of days between bloom and harvest is approximately 125, on average. Though day time temperatures rarely exceed 75 degrees F, the long growing season provides substantial heat units throughout the year to fully ripen Pinot Noir, and other varietals that do very well in the Santa Maria Valley. Maritime fog usually cools the grapes in the evening, until approximately 10:00 am. When the sun breaks, the grapes receive substantial heat units to ripen, but it is never so warm in Santa Maria Valley that the grapes begin to “shut down” from excessive heat. These mild temperatures, coupled with a long growing season, allow for grapes that possess great aromatics, distinction, a lively fruit component and balanced acid levels.
Yields in Santa Maria tend to be average to low, due to excessively cool spring temperatures. Poor set on the vines often results from days that do not warm much past 65 degrees F. Pollination can be adversely affected by these cool temperatures. But, the strain of poor pollination on the vine, ironically, results in smaller clusters with intensely flavored berries. These small berries usually provide for greater color and complexity in the resulting wines.
The average annual rainfall in Santa Maria is approximately 14 inches. The rainy season begins in mid-November and continues until the beginning of May, when it lessens considerably to only about .2 inches of rain a month is the very first days of Spring.
The Santa Maria Valley appellation is the third oldest appellation in the United States and was established the same year as the Napa Valley AVA distinction; 1981.