Santa Barbara’s finest region for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Rhône grapes

California's Central Coast

California’s Central Coast is a large American Viticulture Area (AVA) stretching from south of San Francisco all the way to Santa Barbara. Roughly 250 miles long, the 40 AVAs specialize in a wide variety of grapes offering some of California’s most intriguing wines. The Central Coast is planted with 90,300 acres of vineyards, the most widely planted is Chardonnay. San Luis Obispo (SLO) and Santa Barbara County AVAs, from which this month’s wines were sourced, produce outstanding wines.

 

SLO Coast is the seafront side of the Santa Lucia Mountain range. It starts as a thin strip in the north and begins to widen as you head southward. Most notable is the geographical orientation which runs east-west. The ocean influence is considered of utmost importance – cool fog blanketing the vineyards until late morning, helping to achieve one of the world’s longest growing season for the grapes to achieve maximum ripeness. Moving further inland the region is warm enough to ripen Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Grenache. The varied soils of fossilized shells, shale and sand create wines with energetic acidity.

Santa Barbara County is literally Sideways. The hit wine movie’s title hints at the geography of this wine region. Its transverse, east-west orientation creates the perfect conditions for cool climate wines (like Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay). Sandwiched between two mountain ranges with elevations ranging between 200 feet and 3400 feet, the soils range from pockets of calcareous limestone that help maintain acidity, diatomaceous earth that create concentrated wines, sandy soils for more fruit driven styles and clay loam that help retain moisture for the thirsty vines. Santa Barbara County is characterized by lots of sunshine, extremely long growing periods and little to no rainfall, especially during the harvest period. All these components create wines that are truly representative of the terroir.

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