The rise to prominence of Justin Willet’s Tyler Winery has been meteoric. Although he was born and raised in Santa Barbara, Justin’s family had no connection to the industry, and Justin himself studied history of art at college before being drawn irresistibly to winemaking. He established Tyler in 2005 and has been gradually expanding the operation ever since (remarkably, without outside investment). The majority of Justin’s wines are made from grapes purchased through long-term contracts, but his own holdings increased dramatically with the recent acquisition of some forty hectares in Fiddlestix. Justin is a supremely articulate champion of Santa Barbara, pointing out that, despite the effects of global warming elsewhere in California, the trend here is for cooler growing seasons owing to the influence of the nearby Pacific. Not for nothing does he describe Tyler wines as ‘wines of the sea.’ They are characterised by low pH, a clear mineral component and an absence of overt oak. The Pinots are vinified with an average 40% whole bunches. We’ve long admired Tyler and were thrilled to last year agree UK exclusivity with Justin. Relatively new to Tyler’s range are the Pinot and Chardonnay from the Mae vineyard – a littleknown site with, in Justin’s view, a big future. When Justin told us he also planned to release a keenly-priced Santa Rita Hills Pinot and Santa Barbara County Chardonnay we put our hands up for as much stock as possible. This duo have now landed and boy do they over-deliver for the price!