Tyler is dedicated to producing wines of delicacy and balance, where structure and nuance are favored above all else. Our focus is exclusively on exceptional vineyard sites throughout the Santa Rita Hills and Santa Maria Valley within Santa Barbara County, and feel pinot noir and chardonnay are the best mediums to express each vineyard site. Within these two appellations, the unique combination of marine-based soils, transverse ranges and valleys, and cool ocean influence make this a truly wonderful place for growing pinot noir and chardonnay.
We believe wine should be elegant and honest, and must possess aromatic purity.
In order to best convey the individuality of each site, we try to be modern in our thinking and classic in our approach. Great effort had been made not only to seek out vineyards of pedigree, but also to seek out vines with age. We now work with a number of the oldest vineyard blocks in the County and believe this is essential in our quest for both purity and intesity. Furthermore, close collaboration with each of our growers along with focused, minimal handling of fruit and wine allow us the best opportunity to achieve our goals.
We currently produce 12 different bottlings each year from 22 parcels within 7 different vineyard sites. Total production is approximately 2500 cases annually.
During harvest, typically before the sunrise, the clusters are carefully picked and sorted in the field. They are then hand sorted again, cluster by cluster before typically destemming. A percentage of whole clusters will be retained in the fermentation depending on the vintage. The vats are both pumped over and punched down over the course of about two weeks. We now rely completely on native yeasts to carry out this fermentation. The wines are then pressed to tank to rest for a period of one to three days before going to barrel of which only 20-30% are new.
Harvested at first light and carefully sorted in the field, the grapes arrive at the winery and are whole cluster pressed to tank to settle. They are then racked off of the heavy solids to another tank where fermentation begins. Once fermentation is active, the juice is transferred down to barrel, of which 10-20% is new. Both primary and secondary fermentation take place in barrel. Once finished, the wines are left on the lees for approximately one year before being racked to tank to rest for an additional 3-4 months before bottling.
Justin Willett was born and raised in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated with a B.A. in History of Art & Architecture from the University of California-Santa Barbara. He then began Tyler Winery in 2005 while the Assistant Winemaker of the pinot noir and chardonnay specialist Arcadian Winery. Tyler Winery has grown from an inaugural release of 190 cases to approximately 2500 cases with the 2011 vintage under Justin’s watchful eye. Justin is assisted by Blake Sillix and Ryan Stirm in both the vineyard and cellar.
In addition to being the owner and winemaker of Tyler Winery, Justin is now the consulting winemaker for a dynamic new planting of pinot noir and chardonnay in the Santa Rita Hills between the Seasmoke and Mount Carmel vineyards called Wenzlau Vineyard. Also, Justin’s perspective and craftsmanship have landed him partnerships with a few well-known sommeliers.
With sommelier Eric Railsback (formerly of RN74 in San Francisco, now owner of Caveau in Santa Barbara) he produces approximately 2000 cases of wine focused specificially on the varietals of the Loire Valley in France, grown here in Santa Barbara County, under the Lieu Dit label. Another partnership with Master Sommelier Dustin Wilson of Eleven Madison Park in New York City and Master Sommelier Brian McClintock of Caveau in Santa Barbara, called Vallin, focuses on the varietals of the Northern Rhone Valley.
Beyond purchasing directly from the winery, the Tyler wines can also be found in top-tier restaurant and specialty retail stores around the US, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Chicago, and many others. Please find us at these restaurants or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn where to find our wines.