A local winery’s fan base had to wait nearly a decade to enjoy wines on-site at The Hilt Estate, established in 2014 at a 3,600-acre ranch in Lompoc, before a lavish tasting space debuted in 2021.
Over the past two years, the California farmhouse-style venue—simply known as The Barn at The Hilt Estate—has developed a reputation as a Central Coast gem, but even its most frequent regulars might feel like they’re stepping back in for the first time thanks to the launch of a new tasting series.
“While our core tasting experiences continue to evolve in small ways and will continue to do so, we have tried to keep those experiences relatively consistent and reliable,” Wayne Kelterer, director of private sales and hospitality at The Hilt, told the Sun. “However, because we are committed to the concept that great hospitality is not static, we will continue to try new concepts to push our boundaries.”
One of the tasting opportunities in the fall series is titled La Poesia, or The Poetry, which is described as weaving together aspects of the winery’s history and its vintners’ various endeavors over the years.
“On one hand, we are still a young brand when compared to the estates around the world; infants really. On the other, we are just finishing our 20th harvest for Jonata,” Kelterer said of the Santa Ynez Valley-based winery, under the same ownership and winemaking team behind The Hilt.
“La Poesia features a wide range of library selections, often rare bottles, and vintages where this is the last opportunity to purchase them,” said Kelterer, who explained that the tasting experience highlights wines from both Jonata, which had its first harvest in 2004, and The Hilt that vary in age.
One consistency Kelterer believes both wineries’ earliest wines and more recent vintages inhabit is “an untamed wildness.” While Jonata in Ballard Canyon grows more than a dozen grape varieties on its 600-acre property, The Hilt Estate is home to three distinct vineyards—Radian, Bentrock, and Puerta del Mar—that specialize in pinot noirs and chardonnays.
While La Poesia isn’t the only tasting package in the fall series to include wines from both brands, an experience titled The Point solely focuses on wines from The Hilt Estate. Inspired by the estate’s proximity to Point Conception, The Point features six wines that showcase ways in which the Pacific Ocean and coastal winds have a profound impact on the winery.
Reservations are required for The Point, La Poesia, and other package experiences at The Hilt Estate, while advance notice is not required but highly recommended to take advantage of the winery’s new, limited time happy hour series, held on three Fridays during November.
Part of the charm of attending the happy hour program—which pairs a flight of four wines with cheese and charcuterie selections between 3:30 and 5 p.m. on Nov. 3, 10, and 17—is experiencing The Barn near dusk, Kelterer said.
“Late in the day, The Barn takes on a new kind of magic as the sun begins to fall behind the nearby hills, affording our guests a somewhat rare opportunity to experience a different side of The Barn,” said Kelterer, who added that the winery is currently exploring ways to host similar wine pairing programs in the future and will be incorporating feedback from patrons of the fall happy hour series.
“We never want the space or experience to be static,” Kelterer said. “Great hospitality is adaptive, moving with the flow of guests, responding to how they are reacting to the environment. Even a casual comment made by a guest may greatly inform how the host handles that individual or group and the experience they provide.
“Wines constantly change,” Kelterer added. “We should change with them.”
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