Riverbench Vineyard was established in 1973, when the first Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes were planted on the bank of the Sisquoc River, known as the Santa Maria Bench. For decades since then, some of the most renowned wineries have purchased our fruit for their wines. In 2006, we began producing our own wines in limited quantities, with many available exclusively through our wine club and tasting rooms in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara, California.
Situated on the bank of the Sisquoc River in the southeastern edge of the Santa Maria Valley, the northernmost AVA in Santa Barbara County, Riverbench Vineyard currently consists of 115 acres of Pinot Noir and 15 acres of Chardonnay. As an historic vineyard planted in the early 1970’s, we continually evaluate individual blocks as the vines age, replanting if needed or nurturing the old vines on site.
In 2008, we committed ourselves to our premium sparkling wine program, taking steps to grow wines that are inspired by centuries of sparkling wine making history in Champagne, France. In 2015, we added the third great grape varietal famous in that area, Pinot Meunier, to our vineyard. We began featuring the first Santa Barbara sparkling Pinot Meunier in our sparkling wine tasting flights beginning in 2019.
Riverbench vines are planted on the Santa Maria Bench, which is made up of alluvial soils. These soils are formed of sediment deposited by flowing water thousands of years ago, and contain particles of clay, silt, sand and gravel. They are extremely fertile because of their medium to fine textures; yet they are shallow in depth which allows for a great growing medium. The rocky benchland provides excellent drainage and in turn allows us to define growth without a large amount of outside input. Sandstone filled with fossils and remnants of ancient sea life, along with large rocks and river cobble, can be found all over the property, reminding us of the history of this ancient riverbed.
Santa Maria Valley AVA
The Santa Maria Valley is an appellation known for its diverse microclimates and ideal conditions for growing Burgundian varieties. This distinct wine region is characterized by the valleys in our Pacific coastline which run east to west instead of the more common north to south. Such a geographic peculiarity channels the cool ocean breezes inward, resulting in a mild and moderate climate where Pinot Noir and Chardonnay thrive.
Our goal remains to produce the highest quality grapes in our vineyard, resulting in superb wine quality. Riverbench is committed to sustainable winegrowing practices that are environmentally sound, socially equitable, and economically feasible. Keeping these sustainable practices in mind, we not only produce a superior product, but we are able to help protect the environment, conserve natural resources, maintain the long-term viability of our vineyard, and support the economic and social well-being of our employees. As proof of our commitment to these things, Riverbench has been a SIP Certified vineyard since 2008.