Santa Rita Hills, California, USA
Focus, poise and balance: the foundations of a new Californian classic
Tyler’s story started in 2005 with but a few barrels hidden at the back of the winery where Justin Tyler Willet worked as assistant winemaker. The project has since grown in both size and reputation; Tyler wines are now regarded as true modern Californian classics and Justin considered the ultimate craftsman of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Location: Santa Rita Hills, California, USA
Working with us since: 2021
Our favourite wine from Lieu Dit: Claret
Interesting fact: Justin’s reputation, passion and talent have turned him into one of the most sought-after winemakers in California. He is involved in a number of different but equally exciting projects in addition to Tyler, all of which have become iconic in their own way: Racines, a highly collectible partnership with Étienne de Montille and Rodolphe Péters; Lieu Dit, the Loire-inspired partnership with Eric Railsback which we also proudly represent; Wenzlau Vineyard, a promising new planting of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
It was while working as assistant winemaker at Arcadian Winery that Justin Tyler Willet started honing his craft as a master of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. At the tender age of 24, he started playing around with a few barrels hidden in a corner of his employer’s space. These experiments would become the inception of his personal endeavour, Tyler, which 16 years on has become a flagship Californian modern classic, combining forward-thinking with precise elegance.
Having forged close relationships with some of the most iconic growers in Santa Rita Hills, Justin gained access to the best Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from prized plots and old vines, giving him the raw material to fully convey the vibrancy and complexity his wines are known for. Tyler wines, kissed by the ocean winds, have the same angular poise and textural appeal of the Santa Rita Hills landscape. They are indeed children of their time and place, with Justin as their guiding hand. His work is one of skill and patience, listening to how the grapes can best be nurtured in the vineyard to ultimately deliver, with minimum interference, complex, pure age-worthy wines.
2015 marked the beginning of a new exciting stage: Justin and wife Amanda purchased the land, at the heart of the Santa Rita Hills, that would become their family home and Tyler’s estate plot, The Mae Vineyard. After remodelling the original ranch house and planting 28 acres of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah with selected cuttings from the region’s best plots, the 2019 harvest produced the first Mae Vineyard wines. The development of the estate has given a home to Tyler’s soul and materialises Justin’s philosophy of hard work, patience and attention to detail.