Proprietor Steve McIntyre is one of the most knowledgeable viticulturists in California. As owner/operator of Monterey Pacific, he and his team farm 12,000 acres in Monterey County and have planted or farmed nearly one quarter of the vineyards in the renowned Santa Lucia Highlands AVA.
The McIntyre Estate Vineyard lies in the “sweet spot” of Monterey County’s Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, a 12-mile stretch of benchland renowned for production wines of character and complexity. Originally planted in 1973, the 80-acre site (60 acres planted) boasts some of the Highlands’ oldest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines. The winery’s other estate property is the 81-acre Kimberly Vineyard in Arroyo Seco. The Arroyo Seco AVA produces deep, powerful, well-structured Merlot. The McIntyre Estate Vineyard was among the first properties in the Santa Lucia Highlands to be SIP (Sustainability in Practice) Certified.
Fruit for the 2015 McIntyre Vineyards Merlot Kimberly Vineyard was sourced from 20 year old vines. It pours a nearly opaque garnet with dark and red fruit, violets, tobacco, licorice, and a hint of cola aromas. On the palate it’s full bodied and elegant with vibrant acidity and velvety well integrated tannins. It shows ripe blackberry, black cherry, black currant, a hint of boysenberry vanilla, graphite, licorice and savory spice flavors with a hint of cacao and a very satisfying finish. 14% abv|SRP-$25. Wonderful QPR with this alluring wine. (Martin Redmond, Enoflyz Blog)
SALINAS, California – May 1, 2019 – The McIntyre family has broken ground on the first phase of their winery hospitality center at their McIntyre Estate Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA of Monterey County. The new facility will be located on the River Road Wine Trail, approximately five miles from the city of Gonzales, California.
Phase 1 of the hospitality center plan includes a large park and an outdoor amphitheater for small and large events. The park will feature a pedestrian tunnel that will eventually serve as the entrance to an underground barrel room. Ultimately, when the project is finished, there will be a tasting room, offices, courtyard, kitchen and a winery facility. Phase 1 is scheduled to be finished by mid-August of 2019.
Steve McIntyre has a long history in the Santa Lucia Highlands that stretches nearly four decades. He has planted and farmed more than 20% of the entire AVA and vinified hundreds of wines from its grapes. Steve McIntyre knows the soils and the climate of SLH and understands what makes this celebrated region so special.
“The Santa Lucia Highlands is one of the world’s greatest regions for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay,” says Steve McIntyre. “It’s also one of the most serene places in California. When our customers visit our property, touch our soil, taste our wines and talk to our family, they have a much deeper appreciation of what we are trying to accomplish. Our new hospitality center will give wine lovers a front-row seat to the Santa Lucia Highlands and McIntyre Family Wines.”
The public is currently invited to taste McIntyre Wines at their Tasting Studio in the Crossroads Shopping Center off Hwy 1 and Rio Road in Carmel. The Carmel location is open Tuesday – Sunday from 11 am – 6 pm. For more information on the Tasting Studio call 831-626-6268 or email email@example.com.
2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir: 90 pts *Support Breast Cancer with this bottle*
"Pale orange-pink. Bright and energetic on the incisive nose, displaying fresh red berry, orange zest and floral scents and a subtle herbalnuance. Chewy and taut in the mouth, offering zesty strawberry and bitter cherry flavors that take a sweeter turn with aeration. A minerally note adds cut to the finish, which lingers with very good, floral-accented tenacity."
2014 Estate Old Vine Pinot Noir: 94 pts
"Deep bright-hued red. A complex bouquet evokes candied red berries, cola, incense and floral oils, and a suggestion of vanilla emerges as the wine stretches out. Fleshy and alluringly sweet, offering black raspberry and cherry-vanilla flavors that are energized and given lift by a jolt of juicy acidity. Blends power and finesse with a sure hand and shows no rough edges. The floral and cola notes return on a strikingly long, energetic finish that's shaped by smooth tannins."
2015 Per Ardua Red Blend: 92 pts *Wine Club Only until November 2018*
"Vivid ruby. Perfumed aromas of cherry preserves, red currant, pipe tobacco, cedary oak and dark chocolate. Broad and fleshy in the mouth, offering sweet red fruit liqueur and mocha flavors that take a darker turn on the back half. Cassis and cherry qualities linger impressively on the finish, which is framed by dusty, building tannins."
2016 Estate Pinot Noir: 91 pts
"(one-third new French oak) Brilliant red. Lively, mineral-laced red fruit, floral and cola aromas are accompanied by vanilla and woodsmoke nuances. Juicy and energetic on the palate, offering bitter cherry and raspberry flavors that become sweeter on the back half. Shows very good depth as well as energy and finishes long and smooth, with strong, red-fruit-driven persistence and silky tannins that add subtle grip."
2016 Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay: 90 pts
"(30% new French oak) Light bright yellow. Fresh peach, melon and tangerine on the fragrant nose. Juicy and pliant on the palate, offering gently sweet orchard and pit fruit flavors that slowly tighten up on the back half. In a fresh, forward style, with no rough edges. The appealingly sweet, nicely persistent finish leaves a hint of honeydew melon behind."
2016 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir: 90 pts
"Vivid red. Ripe red berries, sassafras, rose oil and a hint of mocha on the perfumed nose. Silky and energetic in the mouth, offering pliant raspberry and cherry flavors that are sharpened by a peppery note. In a fruity, forward style, showing very good closing thrust, no obvious tannins and persistent red berry character."
2016 Estate K-1 Block Chardonnay: 93 pts *Not released, coming soon!*
"Pale gold. Displays expansive aromas of ripe citrus and orchard fruits, along with smoky mineral, jasmine and toasted brioche qualities. Sweet, seamless and penetrating on the palate, offering intense pear nectar, tangerine and pineapple flavors that are braced by a spine of juicy acidity. Blends power and finesse with a sure hand and shows a seductively velvet-like texture. The floral and mineral notes come back strong on the finish, which hangs on with strong persistence."
2016 Estate Chardonnay: 92 pts
"Limpid yellow. Vibrant, smoke- and mineral-accented aromas of fresh citrus and orchard fruits are complemented by a suave floral overtone that builds with aeration. Offers palate-staining pear and tangerine flavors that pick up a toasty lees note on the back half and shows excellent clarity. Deep yet lively in character, delivering solid finishing thrust and leaving a sexy, floral quality behind."
When the heat of the day transitions into a chilly night, we know that fall is here. And, for many, when the weather changes, so do our choices in wine and food. That crisp, mineral driven white wine that was perfect by the lake suddenly isn’t as satisfying while sitting next to the warmth of a backyard bonfire. The almost translucent rosé that paired so well with a fresh seafood salad enjoyed alfresco doesn’t taste as luscious with those spicy ribs falling off the bone at the tailgate barbecue (as you’re huddled under a blanket).
Located in Monterey County’s Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, McIntyre Estate Vineyard lies along a 12 mile stretch of benchland that produces wines of character and complexity. Planted in 1972, the 80-acre site of which 60 acres are under vine, offers some of the area’s oldest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines. Proprietor Steve McIntyre, who also owns and operates Monterey Pacific, notes that the McIntyre Estate Vineyard was among the first properties in the Santa Lucia Highlands to be SIP (Sustainability in Practice) Certified.
McIntyre 2016 Chardonnay ($28) will satisfy every Chardonnay lover’s palate. Intense aromas of juicy citrus, yellow flowers, and stone fruit paved the way to flavors of lemon, citrus, baked apple, tropical fruit, and bananas. Thanks to a round mouthfeel, vibrant acidity, and juicy finish, pair this wine with roast chicken and fingerling potatoes for Sunday supper.
McIntyre 2016 Estate Vineyard Chardonnay ($38) is sophistication in a bottle. Creamy on both the nose and palate, structure, complexity, and minerality were obvious with each sip. I discovered notes of oak and vanilla, almonds and warm apple pie, lemon and stone fruit as I appreciated the brilliant acidity and lingering finish. Pair this wine with homemade crabcakes, spinach salad with warm bacon dressing, and candlelight.
You may be thinking apropos the title of this post, “F.K., why didn’t you just say ’12 California Chardonnays’? Why add ‘I liked'”? Because, Dear Reader, I don’t like many chardonnays made in California, so when I come across a dozen that I can write about together, I want to emphasize that fact. The reason, as you probably know from having been a devoted reader of this blog — bless your little pointy heads! — is that so many chardonnays from The Golden State are saturated with swamps of oak that I open even one with trepidation, and when I’m looking for an appropriate white wine to drink with dinner, I will open just about anything other than chardonnay. It’s a real crap-shoot, this whole chardonnay business. The wines reported on in this post age in French oak barrels for varying amounts of time and using various percentages of new barrels, but the important point is that all 12 achieve a state of balance among all elements, sometimes pushing the boundaries, it’s true, but sometimes that bold, risky factor adds a frisson of appreciation. Other selections here are more elegant and restrained. Today we range from Santa Barbara County in the south to Mendocino County in the north. Vintages represented are 2014, ’15 and ’16, with the ’14s really coming into a state of grace. These wines were samples for review, for which I thank the wineries and marketing people involved.
The pale straw-gold McIntyre Vineyard Chardonnay 2015, Santa Lucia Highlands, is a rich, bold chardonnay that ultimately displays itsbalance and integrity. A heady bouquet of lightly toasted pineapple and grapefruit offers notes of green apple and pear, cloves and allspice, camellia and lilac; it’s a dense, vibrant and resonant chardonnay, obviously delivering a lot of personality, presence and flavor on the palate but restrained by a dry, crystalline edge of flint and chalk minerality. The finish brings in hints of dusty graphite, smoke and a touch of woodsy spice. 14.2 percent alcohol. Steve McIntyre made 840 cases. Drink now through 2021 to ’24. Excellent. About $28.
[Posted by Fredric Koeppel, Bigger Thank Your Head blogger, http://biggerthanyourhead.net/2018/06/04/12-california-chardonnays-i-liked/]
McINTYRE VINEYARDS, 2015 CHARDONNAY SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS, $240 ($30) ★ ★ ★ ★
McINTYRE VINEYARDS, 2014 CHARDONNAY McINTYRE ESTATE VINEYARD, $320 ($40) ★ ★ ★ ★ +
Two excellent Chardonnays. The SLH bottling is full bodied, very supple in texture, ripely flavored, and lightly oaked; a wine that is well balanced and medium long on the finish. In aroma/flavor, it tastes of pear, apple, white peach, vanilla, and toast. Fine value. 840 cases. 14.2% F The Estate Vineyard is a richer wine: fleshy in texture, full bodied, and intensely fruity (pear, white peach, apple, pineapple, lemon), it has modest oak character (vanilla, toast), good balance, and a very long finish. A luscious wine. Excellent value. 240 cases. 14.2% [2018-2020]
McINTYRE VINEYARDS, 2016 ROSE OF PINOT NOIR, SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS, $208 ($26) ★ ★ ★+
Light salmon pink color. An intensely flavored, crisp rose that is round, balanced, and long on the finish, tasting of plum, peach, and lemon. Very good value. 340 cases. 13.1% [2018-2019]
McINTYRE VINEYARDS, 2014 KIMBERLY VINEYARDS, ARROYO SECO, $224 ($28) ★ ★ ★ ★
A supple, full bodied Merlot of excellent quality. It is quite rich in flavor (blueberry, cherry, cassis, cedar, spicy oak), balanced, and long on the finish. Will develop with further aging. 14.5% [2019-2023]
McINTYRE VINEYARDS, 2015 PINOT NOIR SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS, $320 ($40) ★ ★ ★ ★
A full bodied, intensely flavored Pinot Noir that has good depth, light tannin, and a very long, firm finish, tasting of blueberry jam, strawberry, rose petal, pepper, dried fig, herbs, vanilla, and oak. Can be aged further. 540 cases. 14.3% [2019-2022]
McINTYRE VINEYARDS 2015 PINOT NOIR McCINTYRE ESTATE VINEYARD, $192/6 ($48) ★ ★ ★ ★
McINTYRE VINEYARDS 2013 PINOT NOIR OLD VINE, ESTATE, $280/6 ($70) ★ ★ ★ ★+
Two excellent Pinot Noirs. The 2015 Estate Pinot is a supple, full bodied, medium rich wine that is well balanced, mildly tannic, and long on the finish. It has complex aromas/flavors (plum, strawberry, cherry, red currant, black tea, spicy oak), and warrants at least 3 more years of aging. 368 cases. 14.1% F The 2013 Old Vine is fleshy in texture, full bodied, and concentrated; a Pinot Noir with excellent depth and balance, and a very long, lightly tannic finish. In tastes of plum, blueberry jam, strawberry, black tea, cedar, and oak. Will develop further. From 40+ year old vines. 76 cases. 14.4% [2019-2022]
By Gina Birch (USA Today & News Press.com)
"Last Friday was National Pinot Noir Day. All day and into the weekend I was teased and delighted by photos on social media of the delicious pinots friends and strangers were celebrating with.
Pinot noir is one of the most versatile food wines thanks to its acidity, fruit and medium to low tannins. Characteristic flavors include cranberry, cherry, raspberry, vanilla, mushroom, cola and wet earth, among others.
When considering these attributes it’s easy to see how it could pair so well with such a wide variety of foods: salmon, duck, mushroom sauce, risotto, roasted vegetables, Gruyere cheese. At a table full of people with entrée choices spanning a wide range, pinot noir can make almost everyone happy.
A temperamental grape with thin skin, growers and wine makers often refer to it as the heartbreak grape. As with most things in life, not all pinot noirs are created equally, especially considering where the grapes are grown and who is making the wine.
And unfortunately in most cases with this wine, you almost always get what you pay for.
Burgundy is the mother ship when it comes to pinot noir. It’s the only red wine produced in this region of France. It’s also the origin of almost all of the pinot vines planted in the U.S.
You may have tasted wines from other parts of the world and heard them described as Burgundian in style. Pinots from Burgundy tend to smell both earthy and floral, like violets. They have fresh red fruits, minerals, and most of all balance. Burgundies are considered graceful and they get more so the longer they’re in the glass.
Oregon is on the same parallel as Burgundy, and Willamette Valley is one of the most highly regarded areas in the U.S. when it comes to pinot noir.
The wines produced here are typically light in color, tart, earthy and delicate in structure.
California pinots are darker and more fruit forward with dark fruits and vanilla. The state’s growing conditions are warmer and drier than Willamette and Burgundy. For some of the best pinots in California look to Sonoma and the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey County. The areas get the cool air and fog that make these particular grapes happy.
For red wine lovers stifled by the Southwest Florida heat, pinot noir is perfect year round and even better with a little chill on it; a 65-degree range will do.
From the Santa Lucia Highlands is a small production wine that has a mouthwatering blend of plum, blackberry and cherry, with lovely lingering spices on the finish."
Steve McIntyre (viticulturist, founder of McIntyre Vineyards) has extensive experience in California’s Central Coast. As owner of Monterey Pacific, his team farms 12,000 acres in Monterey County, and he has planted or farmed nearly a quarter of the vines in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA.
In 1987, Steve purchased an 80-acre site first planted in 1973-acre. This McIntyre Estate Vineyard is the source of some impressive Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and Steve also bottles a larger appellation blend Chardonnay, an old vine rosé, and a Merlot sourced from Arroyo Seco, among others.
This was my first time tasting McIntyre Vineyards’ wine, and I found them delicious, vibrant, showing a tasty mix of rich fruit without being too overt or emblazoned with new oak. They seem like solid examples of the high quality Chardonnay and Pinot that always excites me about the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA.
These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.
2014 McIntyre Vineyards Chardonnay - California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
Medium gold. Aromas of buttercream, rich yellow apple, quince paste, salted almonds and biscuits. Full and round, creamy but moderate acidity, yellow apples and baked pears with hints of limes. Graham crackers, almond, sea salt, honeybutter, lots of deliciousness but it stays vibrant and none of the flavors are too overt. (88 points IJB)
2014 McIntyre Vineyards Chardonnay Estate- California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
Medium gold color. Nose shows bruised apples, pear nectar, along with white and yellow flowers, sea salt and crushed chalk. Rich and creamy with moderating acidity, the honeyed apple and baked pear fruit is mixed nicely with bright yellow floral notes, along with almond butter, graham cracker, hints of sea salt and chalk. Bold but balanced, and straight delicious, a little more verve and chalky notes than the non-estate Chardonnay. (89 points IJB)
2016 McIntyre Vineyards Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir- California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
Pale copper color. Smells of strawberries, watermelon, chalk dust, lemon zinger tea. Pleasantly plump on the palate but bright acidity. Crisp, chilled strawberry, cranberry and wild raspberry fruit, laced with complex notes of lemon verbena, mint, honeycomb, wild flowers and chalk dust. Delicious, complex, long finish. Impressive depth and complexity on this Pinot rosé. From a 45-year-old, own-rooted vineyard, this is a serious rosé that leaps out of the glass. (88 points IJB)
2014 McIntyre Vineyards Pinot Noir- California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
Bright ruby color. Aromas show a nice mix of tart red cherries and rich black cherries along with rhubarb pie, roses, clove and tobacco. Medium/full-bodied, velvety tannins, vibrant acidity. Saucy but tangy fruit (black cherry, raspberry, some strawberry jam), with clove, cinnamon, cedar, violets, all woven in well. Lovely stuff, this could soften for a few years but no guilt about drinking it right now. (90 points IJB)
2013 McIntyre Vineyards Merlot Kimberly Vineyard- California, Central Coast, Arroyo Seco
Deep ruby/light purple color. Pretty aromatic display of red currants, deep black cherries, violets, sweet pipe tobacco, cola. Full-bodied, velvety tannins, moderating acidity, doused in black cherries, black currant and raspberry jams. Violet petals, loamy soil, soy and mushroom, charred herbs, vanilla, savory spices, all of these add complexity and serious deliciousness to this Merlot. At least five years (likely more) of development, but delicious now, too. (90 points IJB)
Steve McIntyre and his team at Monterey Pacific, Inc., manage more than 12,000 acres of vineyard in Monterey County. Thanks to his diverse roster of clients, McIntyre is well-versed in biodynamic, organic, sustainable and conventional approaches to farming and prides himself on adopting the best ideas from each. Now in its 25th year, Monterey Pacific recently received the 2017 California Green Medal Business Award.
Has your understanding of sustainability evolved over time?
I was one of the founders of the Central Coast Vineyard Team, and when we got together in 1994, we had no idea what sustainability was or what it would become. Ours was basically a “best practices” forum that morphed into a self-correcting grower workbook. It’s not a competition among growers; it’s a competition with yourself. You are basically trying to improve your efficiency while considering the unintended consequences of your decisions. For instance, it feels really good to buy a Prius that gets a zillion miles per gallon, but what about the battery? There’s often a lot more to these decisions than meets the eye.
You’re a fan of deficit irrigation. What does that entail and how much water does it save?
With red grape varietals, it saves maybe 30 to 40 percent compared to the water you would normally apply. With white varieties, maybe 20 to 30 percent. And it improves wine quality. When you hold water back, the vine goes into survival mode and concentrates on the progeny—the seeds and fruit—rather than the vegetative growth. It’s trying to make that fruit more attractive to mammals, so the flavors increase and the skin becomes more palatable, which translates into wine quality.
You’ve been using biochar in your vineyards for the past few years. What is biochar and what benefits are you seeing?
It’s like compost on steroids. It works really well in sandy soils to boost organic matter. Basically, it’s charcoal, a super carbon source, and an extremely efficient way to utilize material like old orchards that are taken down. Every ton of biochar can replace five tons or more of compost, so you have lower trucking costs and lower energy usage. It’s expensive now, but we hope it won’t be in the future.
You’re a believer in permanent cover crops. Don’t they compete with the vine for water and nutrients?
Originally, we did it for erosion control, but the benefits are numerous. The roots prevent compaction and they provide a home for mycorrhizal fungi and bacteria. They’re a trap crop for beneficial insects, and they provide wind protection for young vines. On the Central Coast, our native cover crops are drought tolerant and daylight obligate. That means their seeds will not germinate until the days are shorter. If we let our cover crop go to seed, it stops using water until that seed germinates. So there’s no competition.
You’ve been converting your fleet to EcoDiesel. What is it and does it make business sense?
EcoDiesel is diesel fuel combined with waste products like cooking oil from restaurants. We can’t use it on all our fleet because we can’t get enough. It does cost more, but if the market takes off, it would be good for the environment. It would definitely stretch our oil supplies in this country.
You’ve been working on an incentive program for employee wellness. How’s that going?
We had a health fair and pre-screened some employees, voluntarily, and we found cases of terribly high blood sugar and blood pressure. The nurses told us that a few people needed to go to the doctor immediately. So we decided to provide individual screening for all of our employees. Nurses came to our site, and we had an 85 percent participation rate. Now we are trying to come up with rewards for bringing blood sugar down or losing weight—whatever your personal goal might be—but that penalizes people who already take care of themselves. We haven’t solved this dilemma.
You provide $1,000 scholarships to the children of employees who want to attend college. How do you justify this expense?
We award four to six a year and we have done it for 10 years. It just feels right. But I have an ulterior motive. We’re in the boonies, and it’s tough to hire people for administrative positions. So this is an investment in our future workforce.
All these benefits—you must have low turnover.
We have maybe two voluntary quits a year out of 200 employees. I’ve learned that retention is not so much about wages. It’s about communication. I have an open-door policy. People know they can come bug me at any time, and I try to be a good listener.
Are sustainable practices easier or harder at your size?
Size has nothing to do with it. Sustainability is about metrics, being able to measure progress, like fuel savings or efficiency. Everybody can do it.