Solomon Hills Vineyard

Central Coast AVA

solomonhillsvineyards.com

An exciting vineyard and winery centered in the cool-climate region of Santa Maria Valley


When the Miller family of California’s Central Coast launched their most recent winery project in 2008, most industry insiders were already convinced of the operation’s eventual success. These early predictions have already proven to be accurate.

The evolution of Solomon Hills Vineyards is already an accomplished fact given the immediate acceptance of the wines by both the consuming public and most industry periodicals. The reason for these acknowledgments is quite simple; a wonderful vineyard location and an armful of wine industry expertise.

“We wanted to tell the story of the vineyard,” informed Nicholas Miller, a fifth-generation member of the Miller family. “Our customers have made such incredible wines with our fruit that it seemed the natural thing to do. Everyone in the wine business knows that the greatness of a wine is directly related to the quality of the fruit involved.”

The vineyards involved are located directly along Highway 101, just south of Santa Maria, the stretch of road known for centuries as the storied El Camino Real. Their location is also the westernmost in all of California, making them compliant to the caprices and whims of the Pacific Ocean. It is also interesting to note that the Santa Maria Appellation is the second oldest appellation in California, coming just seven months behind Napa Valley in 1981.

“We knew what we were in for with these vineyards,” Miller continued. “We knew that each year would be a different set of struggles and problems to face. But, we were also pretty sure of what we could expect them to produce. We just try and not make any mistakes. We let the terroir do the rest.”

Solomon Hills also has its share of history. Supposedly named after an early 19th Century bandit named Solomon Pico, whom folklore has it was the main focus for the Zorro legends, the area has become a prime component for the prestigious Santa Maria growing appellation. The fruit from this area is always in great demand and is made into numerous vineyard-designate wines throughout the Central Coast of California.

Solomon Hills’ production is absolutely minuscule. Only 100 to 300 cases are made of each varietal, depending on yearly variations within each vineyard.

“We are fortunate to enjoy the luxury of putting together small components for our wines,” added Miller. “There is really only moderate growth for Solomon Hills in our future plans. We want to keep everything small and our quality extremely high.”

The Millers also own the iconic Bien Nacido Vineyard, considered by many to be one of the prime producing vineyards in all of California. They have recently built a state-of-the-art winery facility at Bien Nacido where most of the family’s wines are made, including Solomon Hills Vineyards.

Solomon Hills Vineyards is still much of a family affair for the Millers. The winery’s label was designed by Miller’s wife Shelly, and the company’s financial and operational duties are under the charge of his brother Marshall. Nicholas Miller handles the company’s sales and marketing chores and states that he has recently been demoted to “cellar rat” with the addition of winemaker Trey Fletcher. Family patriarch Steve Miller is still active in all aspects of the sprawling Miller viticultural empire.

“We are nothing more than a family business,” a modest Nicholas Miller confided. “Our family is very similar to the growers and vintners along the Central Coast. Whenever there is a problem, everyone pitches in and helps. I’m not sure you find that sort of cooperation and spirit throughout the rest of California. Many of our customers have used our facilities for many years and have developed endearing relationships with all involved.”

It seems as if everything is in place for Solomon Hills Vineyards to continue its award-winning pace for many years to come. With incredible fruit from its namesake vineyard and the carefully thought out winery plan for the company itself, Solomon Hills Vineyards is in the unique position of having to produce additional wine for its cadre of loyal followers. Not many of its competitors can match that problem, a huge plus for the Miller family owned operation.

And, Nicholas Miller has himself received noteworthy honors of his own - including being named to the Wine Enthusiast’s list of Top 40, Under 40. This annual listing features the top tastemakers in the wine industry that are considered wine’s rising stars. It is a distinct honor that is well deserved.

We proudly present Solomon Hills Vineyards to our Platinum Wine Club members.


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Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,

Our family has been farming in California since 1871. In the early days, we focused on agricultural crops like avocados and lemons, but in the 1970’s, my father and uncle pioneered in a new direction for California’s Central Coast by planting the Bien Nacido Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley.

Bien Nacido’s success and acclaim as a world-class vineyard led my family to seek out another special piece of land in Santa Maria.

Back in the late 1850’s, the bandit Solomon Pico traversed the El Camino Real (Kings Highway) and was the inspiration for the character, Zorro. It was in these hills, due west from Bien Nacido, that we planted Solomon Hills and named the vineyard after the famous bandit.

Solomon Hills is the western-most vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley, just eleven miles from the ocean. The soils are primarily ocean-derived sandy loam, providing rapid water drainage and moderate vine stress. Coupled with the proximity to the ocean and Santa Maria marine effect, the wines demonstrate bright fruit and inherent elegance.

The Solomon Hills 2014 Estate Pinot Noir is a great example of why my family loves the Santa Maria Valley - vibrant fruit and spicy flavors, coupled with an integrated acidity that is a hallmark of this region.

Enjoy!

Nicholas Miller
Solomon Hills Vineyards / 5th Generation California Farmer


Trey Fletcher - Winemaker

San Diego native and fourth generation Californian, Trey Fletcher is the relatively new winemaker behind Solomon Hills and Bien Nacido wine brands. He joined the Miller family in 2011 as winemaker and general manager after several years of winemaking experience in Europe, New Zealand, Argentina, and California.

Most notably, he worked for Clos Henri in New Zealand, Michael Rolland in Salta, Argentina, and both Domaine Alfred and Littorai in California. As family spokesperson, Nicholas Miller remarked, "Trey Fletcher is the perfect fit for our project. He is talented, smart and down-to-earth. We could not have asked for a winemaker more ideally suited to our two brands."


Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,


I am a fifth generation farmer in California. My great, great grandfather started farming lemons in Southern California, but in the late sixties, my late uncle and father recognized a unique opportunity. They purchased two farms, one in Paso Robles, the second in the Santa Maria Valley, and then planted them to wine grapes. The Paso Robles vineyard they named French Camp Vineyards and the Santa Maria Valley vineyard was named Bien Nacido Vineyards.

With the success of our Bien Nacido Vineyards and our family’s love of the wines coming from the Santa Maria Valley, in 1999 we planted a second vineyard in Santa Maria and named it the Solomon Hills Vineyards. This vineyard is the farthest western vineyard in the AVA (which is the third oldest AVA in the country), and the closest to the ocean. In fact, it used to be under the Pacific Ocean, but now is just the sandy ocean floor left behind. This makes it one of the coolest sites in the Santa Maria Valley, with well drained sandy soils. It is primarily a Pinot Noir Vineyard and is the source of the two highest Robert Parker rated Pinot Noirs in the Santa Maria Valley. There is only a little bit of Chardonnay at the very Southern tip of the vineyard. We sell it to a few other wineries, but jealously guard the section we get for our own Estate program. We farm this section organically and only produce about 100 cases of this wine each year. We see it as a true gem in our family’s vineyard portfolio.

Solomon Hills, as the name of the hills we are set in, comes from a bandit that used to hide in them. Solomon Pico would find lookouts for those hills to rob unsuspecting wagons coming through the valley. Solomon Pico is the historical figure that the legend of Zorro is based upon.

The Solomon Hills 2008 Chardonnay was the first white wine I ever made under our own label. Now, two vintages later, we produce a Bien Nacido Chardonnay side by side with the Solomon Hills Chardonnay under our own label. However, the Solomon Hills 2010 Chardonnay was the first wine to sell out from our current releases, so you will be one of the few people in this Country to still have access to this wine. Cheers!

Thank you,

Nicholas Miller
Solomon Hills Vineyards / 5th Generation California Farmer