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Reviews : General

Santa Maria Valley's New Wineries: Look south for something up-and-coming in the industry

Kathy Marcks Hardesty, San Luis Obispo Times

Last week I wrote about the history of Santa Maria Valley wine country after taking an indepth tour of the wineries and vineyards, designed for the media. This week, I'll cover some great wines from the valley's longtime winemakers and introduce you to new brands that every wine lover should want to know about.

...Our last visit was to the newest winery at 2540 Clark Ave., which Anash described to us as “the future of Santa Maria Valley wine country,” Presqu'ile. President and co-owner Matt Murphy explained the unusual name is Creole, meaning, “almost an island.” Presqu'ile described a small town on the Gulf Coast, devastated by Hurricane Katrina, where generations of the Murphy family gathered every summer. Today, Presqu'ile in Santa Maria Valley draws this southern family together again. They're building a state-of-the-art winery they expect to open by early 2013. Set on the highest hilltop, visitors will experience spectacular panoramic views of the Santa Maria Valley and the Pacific Ocean, and taste their extraordinary wines by winemaker Dieter Cronje: “I have a philosophy on winemaking, and I guess it's as much to steer away from the recipe style of making wine where you would do everything similar every year,” Cronje explained candidly of his “varietally correct wines.”

“We tend to believe here that Mother Nature does not give us the same grapes every year— not in any way possible,” he said. “It's always different. So for us, we tend to want to stand back to see what mother nature gives us and then do justice toward that product in the winery.”

They poured an impressive lineup from the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc and 2009 Chardonnay to the three distinctively different 2009 Pinot Noirs. Although they're not open for public tastings yet, the Murphys are opening a Los Olivos tasting room in February 2012. The wines are available online at

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