WINE APPELLATIONS

From the moist, cooler north to the dry, warmer south, Monterey County's diverse microclimates provide ideal conditions for nearly every wine varietal and style.  For wine enthusiasts, there are more than 40,000 acres of vineyards to explore. 

Beginning in the north, closer to the bay, cool climate grapes like Riesling and Pinot Noir do well. Further south, with the warmer temperatures, Bordeaux varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, Rhone-styles like Syrah and Petite Sirah, and even some Zinfandel flourishes. Chardonnay is still king throughout this district, though, accounting for more than 50% of the vines currently in production.

With vineyards dating back to the 1800s, the Carmel Valley terrain and climate is ideal for creating rich, full-bodied wines; the Bordeaux varietals are favorites here, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot comprising more than 70% of the grapes grown in the district. In addition, new vineyards in the Carmel Valley are making the most of the microclimate by planting Burgundian varietals.

The wine growers of the Santa Lucia Highlands are innovators - almost every single vineyard is a living laboratory, with new clones, trellising systems, and farming regimens being regularly explored. 

Set against the dramatic backdrop of Pinnacles National Monument, are the oldest producing vines in Monterey County. The extreme climate and unique soil composition in this district is home to almost 300 cultivated acres of vines. These vineyards produce a diversity of quality grapes, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Syrah.

Arroyo Seco which literally means "dry riverbed," begins in a steep, narrow gorge at the foot of the Santa Lucia mountain range. Moving east, the topography widens and eventually opens up to the warm, fertile soil of the Salinas Valley. This dramatic variation in terrain and weather within the Arroyo Seco region is reflected in the varietals planted: the eastern and central areas grow Chardonnay and Riesling, while Zinfandel, along with Bordeaux and Rhone varietals, are grown in the warmer canyon along the western end of the region.

San Bernabe vineyards are grown on an unusual composition of Aeolian soil - a type of sand dune composition not usually found in grape growing environments. More than 20 varietals, including Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling are grown in this region. 

Located on the southwestern edge of Salinas Valley, is an area comprised of sweeping alluvial fans and terraces, with more than 8,000 acres cultivated for grape growing. Wines produced from San Lucas grapes possess brilliant color to match their rich flavor. Varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc grapes.

The San Antonio Valley appellation is located in a bowl-shaped valley in the southernmost area of the county. The soils found here are primarily gravelly loam and clay. Taken together, these elements provide an excellent setting for growing more than 20 full-bodied Rhone and Bordeaux varietals, from Cabernet Sauvingon and Petite Sirah to Syrah and Marsanne.

Hames Valley sits at the foot of the Santa Lucia Mountains, surrounded by oak tree-dotted hills. This region has 10,000 acres suitable for grape growing, and 2,000 acres currently planted. The shale-loam soil found in Hames Valley, combined with its warmer weather, produces grapes with intense, bold flavors. This is an ideal setting for growing signature Rhone varietals.

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