Our 2020 Vintage


Our commitment at ROAR is to make the highest quality wines every vintage. We do this by touching each vine every 12-14 days, with investment in our the state-of-the-art winery, and by working with the finest team to ensure every bottle meets our standards. When our 2020 harvest was compromised by smoke exposure from wildfires, we went south to the Santa Rita Hills of Santa Barbara County and acquired Pinot Noir from the famed Clos Pepe Vineyard. This venture brings us new offerings, our first from outside of the Santa Lucia Highlands.

Light from darkness

Light from darkness

Homebound when the pandemic struck, we spent lots of extra time in the vineyard during the first half of 2020 and anticipated a fantastic crop. On August 16, a lightning storm started a wildfire north of us that moved down the ridgeline of the Santa Lucia Highlands swiftly. Unusual weather continued and our ubiquitous winds virtually disappeared, which left smoke lingering for weeks. Our family, neighbors in the SLH and wonderful firefighters saved our vineyards and orchards from harm, but ultimately, the impact of the smoke forced us to drop our red grapes.

We remained optimistic about the potential for our white wines and started with caution, using ultra gentle press cycles to avoid any smoke compounds on the grape skins. With only the fresh juice in the tank, fermentations proceeded normally, and we were thrilled with the results. The Chardonnay shows the typical bright character and freshness we expect from Rosella’s and Soberanes.

Knowing our red grapes would not escape the harms of smoke exposure, we reached out to our good friends at Hall winery about purchasing Pinot Noir grapes from the acclaimed Clos Pepe Vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills and they graciously obliged. Steve and Cathy Pepe planted the 41-acre vineyard known for its sedimentary soil and sloping terraces near Lompoc in 1998. Like the Santa Lucia Highlands, the Santa Rita Hills and Clos Pepe experience fog, wind, and moderate temperatures from the nearby Pacific Ocean. But its east- west valleys and marine sediment soils imprint the region’s Pinot Noir with its own distinct style and character.

ROAR Winemaker Scott Shapley produced wines from Clos Pepe in the 2006-2009 vintages while at Roessler and he was already familiar with the clones 667 and 115 we received. He proceeded with his usual approach to deliver a bold, forward wine that matches our quality standards and style with a character true to the Santa Rita Hills—a darker, black fruit profile with full tannins that may take a little time to coax out and reveal the wine’s full expression.

The reward of 2020 was the opportunity to experiment with this new fruit and to deepen our relationship with the Hall team. While we wouldn’t have seen it coming, we now aspire to share more vintages from Clos Pepe with you in the future.

On a final note, the 2021 growing season realized our greatest hope. We harvested beautifully ripe fruit full of acidity and phenolics, and had some fun experimenting with co-fermentations of Pinot Noir clones. Our cellar is once again full of wines gracefully aging until next year’s release. A reminder that the light always returns.

Thank you for taking the time to read about our unique experience in 2020. If you are interested to purchase available wines, you may view the selections by following the link below.