Cambria Winemaker Jill Russell and Cellar Foreman, Roberto Navarro

From Wine Spectator: California’s Chardonnay Heartland

We're thrilled to have recently appeared in Wine Spectator's Chardonnay issue, released in June 2019, and included in their article by Kim Marcus on California Chardonnay alongside notable producers like Paul Hobbs, Aubert, Au Bon Climat, Ramey, Arista, Stonestreet and others. Below are a few excerpts from the article. To read the full piece, please head to (note, a login is required). 

Cambria Katherine's Vineyard Chardonnay

An evolution is taking place in California Chardonnay, making it one of the most exciting wine categories around. Gone are the days when big, ripe and buttery versions dominated. Today, many producers have shifted to sleeker, richer and more powerful styles that rank among the best examples of this versatile white varietal.


Looking beyond Sonoma and Napa, Santa Barbara County is making an impression. This Southern California area comprises a series of valleys that open to the ocean, providing conduits for cool maritime fog and wind. The two leading AVAs are Santa Maria Valley in the north, which is dominated by large historic vineyard tracts such as Bien Nacido and Tepusquet, and Sta. Rita Hills in the central part of the county, where smaller plots evoke a Burgundian scale.

In Santa Maria Valley, vintner Jim Clendenen, a 37-year veteran of winemaking at Au Bon Climat, carries the torch with wines such as the Clendenen Family Le Bon Climat 2013 (94, $50), featuring seamless white fruit flavors and a crystalline finish, and the Au Bon Climat Nuits-Blanches au Bouge 2015 (93, $40), lusciously creamy and spicy. Jackson Family is refocusing on its large Cambria winery, and new winemaker Jill Russell scored in her first vintage with the well-structured, smoky Cambria Katherine’s Vineyard 2017 (91, $22). From Sta. Rita Hills, there are fruity and well-sculpted versions to be found, such as the Lincourt Rancho Santa Rosa 2016 (91, $27) and Pence Ranch 2016 (90, $26).


The cornucopia of Chardonnay from California is abundant with richly flavored wines. Expect more focus to their flavors than in the past, and even more refinement to come as vintners continue to polish their skills in the vineyard and cellar.​

(An alphabetical list providing scores and prices for all wines is available.)

For the full article, please visit