Trippers & Askers
Trippers & Askers is a collaboration between friends, Hayden Felice and Andrew Fitzgerald. We share a vision for a playful, yet serious Central Coast winery focused on using the best organic fruit sourced from sustainable vineyards combined with minimal winemaking intervention. Our goal is to highlight the Central Coast’s exceptional terroir and climate primarily through single vineyard expressions of each grape.
We are not bound by any winemaking dogma: curiosity and experimentation in the winery play a role in crafting wines that can be at once inviting and fun, while also complex and cerebral. There is an emphasis on “drinkability,” a focus on lighter (lower abv) and more mineral expressions that are both suitable for the table and enjoyable in and of themselves.
The name, Trippers & Askers, is borrowed from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself #4. We think it evokes a sense of intellectual curiosity, personal growth and exploration. Our cuvée names are all from beloved poems and reflect upon the character of the wines themselves or, at a minimum, interpose a poetic moment in one’s day. All of the label photos are from our personal travels or those of our friends and family. We encourage our wine club members to submit photos or artwork each year for a chance to be featured on a label. Our goal is to create a community of fellow Trippers and Askers who appreciate our wine, but more importantly, the experience of sharing it with good company.
Climate & Terroir
Temperatures are mild all year, owing to the nearby Pacific Ocean. The waters in the area are particularly frigid, due to upwelling of very deep currents flowing from the poles. That influence keeps daytime, growing season temperatures in the Sta. Rita Hills as much as 30 degrees cooler than Buellton, which is 20+ miles further from the ocean and shielded from wind by a range of hills. In general, for every mile closer to the ocean you get in the Sta. Rita Hills, the air temperature drops 1 degree.
Rainfall is scant and erratic. The average, annual precipitation is about 18 inches, nearly all of which comes during winter. However, some years have as little as four inches, while others are above 20. Dry-farming can be possible at some sites, depending on the precise location, soil type, vine age, etc.
The combination of moderate temperatures, low rainfall, and low humidity provide the potential for very long growing seasons. That extended hang time, coupled with abundant sun, can deliver great ripeness. Fortunately, the cool temperatures maintain acidity in the grapes.
The Sta. Rita Hills has a very unique topography, though its soils are not particularly unusual for a coastal area—calcium-rich sedimentary. That soil formed from the remains of ancient sea creatures which accumulated and dissolved into their mineral components on the ocean floor. There is limestone, chalk, diatomaceous earth, chert, etc. The soil is low-vigor, which benefits wine quality. Calcareous soils also store water from winter rains and dole it out as needed during the growing season, making extensive irrigation unnecessary.
The miracle of the region’s microclimate began about 20 million years ago during the Miocene Epoch, as marine sediment was deposited deep under the Pacific Ocean. Due to tectonic plate movements, mountains rose out of the ocean in a north-south orientation. Over a timespan of twelve million years, the mountains broke from the plate and turned clockwise, creating the most clearly delineated transverse range, from Alaska to Chile, on the Pacific Coast.
There are actually three ranges of mountains in the AVA. In the north is the Purisma. On the south is the Santa Rosa. In between them lies a central spine. Together, they form the shape of a trident, pointing toward the ocean.
The combination of a purely East/West maritime throat, poor marine-based soils, elevated calcium in the soil and the Pacific’s cooling influence through fog, wind and moderating summer heat combine to form one of the world’s best cool-climate viticulture areas for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and now Syrah.
Family owned by Laurie and Drew Duncan, and organically farmed, Donnachadh Vineyard is located on Santa Rosa Road in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA of Santa Barbara County. The property is 285 acres with approximately 40 acres planted to vine in 2013. They grow Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Gamay Noir.
The vineyard consists of two main parts: the hillside blocks, and the riverside blocks. The riverside blocks sit alongside the Santa Ynez River. They are more sheltered from the wind than the hillside blocks and the soil is a delicate and well drained sandy loam that sits on top of deep layers of gravel river deposits. The hillside blocks are more exposed to the ocean winds. The soil there is derived from marine shale deposits and features more clay, rocks and cobbles than the riverside blocks. Overall, the hillside environment is quite challenging for the vines, limiting yields and producing grapes of exceptional character.