Cambria has always been that tiny corner of the Kendall-Jackson empire that didn’t have that smell of overstuffed marketing. It was the family home of Jess Jackson and Barbara Banke, his second wife. His daughters grew up there. The winery itself, located in the Santa Maria Valley, was far from any famous wine regions.
From the beginning, Banke guided the winery, and it has always been female-owned and managed. In 2017, longtime winemaker Denise Shurtleff was promoted to General Manager. Jill Russell, the assistant winemaker at Paul Lato Wines, was hired to take her place.
The winery is well-known for its two vineyard-designate Pinot Noirs, Katherine’s and Julia’s Vineyards, both on Cambria’s property. The Bench Break Vineyard is a similar parcel. It’s newer and built on shallower soils closer to the ocean.
The wine is fresh and vibrant, with just a wedge of rich fruit. The nose is all about the wildflowers: daisies and violets. On the palate, baking spices back up the rhubarb and bing cherry flavors, and a wash of minerality adds some serious backbone to the enterprise. The finish brings in some complex forest-floor notes.
Try this wine with oven-roasted shitake mushrooms and shaved Manchego cheese.