The Hilt is the Santa Rita Hills project owned by sports and property mogul billionaire Stan Kroenke, who also owns Screaming Eagle in Napa Valley and the Jonata estate in the California’s Ballard Canyon AVA.
The Hilt’s winemaking team is headed up by Matt Dees, who is also the winemaker at Jonata. Dees and his team first started exploring the Santa Rita Hills AVA in 2008. After much experimentation they finally purchased the Rancho Salsipuedes property in 2014. The vineyards are situated on the limits of the Santa Rita Hills AVA and are the closest in the region to the ocean, which is just 13 miles away.
The proximity of these vineyards to the ocean, combined with their altitude (sitting at up to 700 feet above sea-level), along with the distinct diatomaceous soils, makes them some of the most interesting for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir production in California.
The first releases of The Hilt’s Estate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay were the 2014 vintage. From 2018, they started producing single-vineyard Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from their top sites, Radian and Bentrock. They also produce The Old Guard cuvée (predominantly a wine from the Radian vineyard) and The Vanguard (predominantly from the Bentrock vineyard). The Hilt’s annual production is between 7,000 and 8,000 cases a year.