Ken Brown Wines Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir Review

Another wine in the long list of "I like blends" where the "entry level" wine is among my favorites at a producer.

Wine review by: Jessyca Frederick

Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir: front of bottle with wine in glass

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About this Wine

Wine: 2017 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
Blend: 100% Pinot Noir
Region: Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara County, Central Coast, California
Vineyard: 50% Rio Vista, 25% Rita’s Crown, 10% Radian, 10% Sanford & Benedict, 5% Rancho La Viña
Cases produced: 391
Retail price: $35
I consumed it: May 2023
My source: Ken Brown Tasting Room

The Back Label

Sta. Rita Hills Pinot NoirBack Label

Discover More

From this winery: Ken Brown Wines

Region: Sta Rita Hills, Santa Ynez, Central Coast, California

Wine color/style: Red wine

Grape variety or blend: Pinot noir

Tasting notes: Red fruit, Spice

Other characteristics: Small production, Aged

Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir: What I think

I spend a lot of time (and money) on Pinot Noir from Santa Ynez Valley (SYV). It’s one of my favorites. I love the rich flavors, the variety of terroir around the valley, the different clones planted in wildly different vineyards – but most of all I love seeing how all of the different winemakers approach fruit from the same vineyards.

Fun fact: Sta. Rita Hills is the AVA’s official name because of "negotiations with Viña Santa Rita, a very large Chilean wine producer that was concerned about the AVA name diluting its international brand value." in Since Ken Brown is one of the SYV OG, he had a hand in siting and planting MANY of the well known vineyards and often has leases at some of the most interesting Pinot-producing vineyards in the area.

The 2017 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir had a nose of cranberry and all spice. It tasted of red currant, plum, spice, and a drop of caramel (from the oak). It was medium acidity and had a beautiful, round mouthfeel with no hint of tannins.

Side note: Rancho La Viña, which is only 5% of this wine’s blend, is quickly becoming my favorite SYV Pinot vineyard, possibly edging out even Radian, Duvarita, and La Encantada. Time will tell...

If you have the chance, I highly recommend stopping in to the unassuming tasting room located on Hwy 246 in Buellton. You’ll probably catch Amber or John pouring all of the current releases, which include Chardonnay and Syrah. If you want to learn about local Pinot Noir, there’s no better place to start than those two.

Last updated: December 17, 2023

Notice: I hold no formal wine credentials. I am a wine geek who has consumed 1000+ of bottles from 100+ different wine clubs and 1000s more bottles that didn’t come from those wine clubs. I do not accept payment for wine reviews, and I do not accept payments to influence my opinions. I happily accept free wine (and I buy wine).

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