Bien Nacido vineyard is the most historic and most prestigious of the Santa Maria vineyards. The vineyard website claims to “set the standard for ultra premium, cool-climate wine grape production in California”.
In Spanish, Bien Nacido means “Born Well” and so it was named in 1973 when Bob Miller and his family planted 640 acres of wine grapes after visualizing the property’s great potential. As it turns out, 37 years later Bien Nacido grows some of California’s best Burgundian varietals such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and others.
The vineyard lays atop the Santa Maria River Bench, a luscious mix of sand, chalk, and loam that drains naturally into the Santa Maria river basin. Located on the western portion of the bench, Bien Nacido enjoys the full effects of the cool ocean breeze that trolls untouched across the flat valley. Causing the fog to burn off early and expose the vines to more sunlight, while constant ocean breezes keep the grapes cool during the afternoon.
The commercial vineyard is planted with more than 300 acres of Chardonnay and more than 250 acres of Pinot Noir. More than 20 boutique and large scale wineries source grapes from Bien Nacido. Some notables are Foxen, Volk, Longoria, and Summerland. Some wineries have had 20 plus years of leased blocks at Bien Nacido.
The vineyard site and facility is also home to pioneer Santa Maria Valley wine makers Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat and Bob Lindquist of Qupe, who use the vineyard as their primary source and use the winemaking facilities at the vineyard. Farming at the vineyard is highly customized. Each block is farmed according the requests of the client.