E Wine of the Week – Bruce Cochran

Edna Valley, a wine region that every wine lover should know about.

Hello Everyone,
This week it’s back to California, to a place good for both chardonnay and pinot noir. Whether you’re grilling in the backyard or designing multi-course dinners with matching wines, this is an area that every wine lover should know.

Taste something good this week!


Edna Valley

Edna Valley is a region that every wine lover should know.  It’s located about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles in California’s Central Coast, in the southern part of San Luis Obispo County, just north of Santa Barbara County. The valley is located only four miles from the ocean, making these vineyards some of the closest to the sea of any in the world. Cool Pacific breezes are channeled straight into the mouth of the valley, bringing frequent fog and a mild climate.

This gives Edna Valley one of the longest growing seasons in California. Leaves appear on the vines up to two weeks earlier than in Napa and the ripening season is longer with a later harvest. This extended ripening period (aka “hang time”) gives grapes extra depth of flavor without sacrificing balancing acidity, which in a warmer climate can ‘burn off’ before harvest.

Vineyard soils contain layers of fossilized seashells left behind millions of years ago when the seas rose at the end of the last Ice Age. The soil is made even more complex by the eroded volcanic rock of nearby extinct volcanoes.

The cool climate combined with an extended ripening period often yields chardonnay described with the unlikely term “tropical fruit.” It’s more of an impression of ripeness than sugar and can be a good partner for spicy dishes or seafood topped with fruit salsas.

It’s also become famous for pinot noir.  Being the edge of “Sideways Country” (the movie that made pinot popular) prices are not as low as they were before the area was discovered. Vineyard expansion I think may be starting to help a bit.

If you want really good California pinot noir from a place seemingly designed for it, Edna Valley is a good place to look for a combination of depth of fruit (deep color) and drinkability (a smooth finish).  I like Edna Valley Vineyards for quality at a good price, $20-$25 and for a bit more—and worth it—I like Baileyanna about $35.

For questions, comments, or to subscribe to the electronic version of E Wine of the Week, email Bruce at: bruce@brucecochran.com

Categories: Legacy Archive