Sante Arcangeli Family Wines Score Big with Major Critics

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Extraordinary Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA

Owner/Winemaker John Benedetti with wife Melanie and baby Lucca Sante

Accurately expressing — and doing justice to— a great vineyard is the objective.

Sante Arcangeli Family Wines recently announced that several of its wines achieved high marks from Wine Enthusiast, including a few Editor’s Choice awards, while another wine was named in Wine & Spirits’ list of the “Best U.S Pinot Noirs”. From the last few vintages, reviews include the 2012 Split Rail Vineyard Pinot Noir (94 pts), the 2014 Split Rail Vineyard Pinot Noir (93 pts), and the 2014 Split Rail Vineyard Chardonnay (92 pts). Additional wines that garnered great reviews include the 2013 Split Rail Vineyard Chardonnay (92 pts), the 2014 Lester Family Vineyard Pinot Noir (92 pts), the 2013 Split Rail Vineyard Pinot Noir (92 pts) and the 2014 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir (91 pts) among others. Nearly every wine submitted over 3 vintages has scored 91 or better.

While most of Sante Arcangeli’s wines are single-vineyard wines, the 2014 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir, also known as “Corralitos Cuvée”, was Sante Arcangeli’s first attempt at an Appellation Cuvée. The wine has been named by Wine & Spirits in their Best U.S. Pinot Noir list. The wine is a blend of pinot noir grapes from 3 Corralitos vineyards: Hicks, Split Rail and Lester Family vineyards.

Santé (with an accent on the E) means “health” and is used to say “cheers” in French. But there’s a lot more to the name here. Sante Arcangeli is a person. In fact, he’s the great grandfather of the winery’s owner and winemaker, John Benedetti. John decided to name the winery after his Great Grandfather as a way of honoring his family’s local legacy and for providing him with the tools that allow him to do what he does best – make wine that tastes good.

The Sante Arcangeli Tasting Room occupies an unassuming 130 year-old building in the bucolic town of Pescadero, just south of San Francisco off Highway 1. Sante-- the man-- started the family bakery and grocery in Pescadero in 1929, and John's brothers still operate it just up the street from the tasting room, producing unique artisanal breads that pair wonderfully with the wines.

“My goal has always been to make the best possible wine, period,” says John Benedetti. “For me the 'best possible wine' starts with an intimate understanding of a vineyard or appellation, and making key, but subtle, adjustments that help to accent the best qualities of that particular fruit so the vineyard can shine through the wine. Accurately expressing — and doing justice to— a great vineyard is the objective.”

Sante Arcangeli Vineyards: Where warm valley winds meet cool ocean air

Split Rail Vineyard, Sante Arcangeli’s signature vineyard source, is located in Corralitos California (Southern Santa Cruz Mountains AVA). The vines are planted on an old lake bottom that got pushed up to 1700 feet above sea level. This spectacular mountain-top vineyard features dramatic views of the Monterey Bay, and is grown on sandstone and clay soils with a limestone vein deep below.   Its unique location is where warm valley currents meet cool ocean breezes in summer, allowing the rare mix of heritage clones to ripen slowly in a long growing season.  Approximately 5 acres is dedicated to Pinot Noir, whereas the rest is planted with Chardonnay clone 4, with a light mix of French clones 95/110R, 76/110R and 809/110R.

Also essential to Sante Arcangeli is the Lester Family Vineyard. Perched between 400 and 500′ elevation, this vineyard is the bucolic jewel of the Corralitos and is perfect for pinot noir.  The Monterey Bay generates a strong maritime influence in the area. Morning fog gives way to moderate temperatures during the day, allowing the fruit to stay relatively cool during the prime growing season, which allows for long hang-time and optimal flavor development.

The vineyard is meticulously managed by Prudy Foxx, sustainably farmed, with no herbicides. Deficit watering and careful canopy management yield fruit that is consistently some of the best available in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Click here for information on all Sante Arcangeli vineyards.

“I'm happy that the wines are getting noticed and that people are seeing that high-quality wines are coming from the Santa Cruz Mountains,” Mr. Benedetti continues. “There are several great producers and great vineyards here. So I'm happy to be maybe bringing some attention to the area, in some small way, which will maybe also help my friends and colleagues. Rising tides raise all boats.”

About Sante Arcangeli Family Wines
Sante Arcangeli is owned and operated by winemaker John Benedetti out of Aromas California, where he produces only 1000-1500 cases each year. Most of the grapes are sourced from unique vineyards in the Corralitos region of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA that produce small crops of well-tended fruit. Notable exceptions are the Mardikian Vineyard on the Sonoma Coast and the Toulouse Vineyard in Anderson Valley.

About Winemaker John Benedetti
John got his start by teaching himself to brew beer and eventually segued to wine with the support of friends Ryan Beauregard (of Beauregard Wines), the Brassfield Family (producers of Heart ‘O the Mountain wines), and James MacPhail (of MacPhail Wines). John’s first barrel of wine was pinot noir, fermented with native yeast, from a very rare Santa Cruz Mountains vineyard. Happy with the results, he’s gone on to make some of the most delicate, layered, nuanced pinot noir and chardonnay in Santa Cruz.

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John Benedetti
since: 09/2012
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