California's Central Coast

Hello Everyone,

This week begins an examination of California’s largest and most diverse wine region, the Central Coast. From Monterey to Santa Barbara, we’ll look at the many grape varieties that thrive there, from traditional types in their varying styles to modern trends happening now. Next month we’ll do the same for northern California.

And finally, after a little encouragement I’m on Facebook. It didn’t take long for old friends and new to reach out. Great to hear from you all.

Try a new wine this week!


California Karma

California’s sprawling Central Coast is the state’s largest wine region, or, you might say, collection of wine regions. Just about everything from San Francisco south to Los Angeles is included. It’s also incredibly diverse, with microclimates that can change dramatically in a very short distance. Cool, foggy vineyards can be found in one part of a county, while in another part only a few minutes away temperatures can reach a very dry 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Yet, in some of those hot, dry, places nighttime temperatures can plummet 50 degrees. Grapevines love that.

Grapewise, everybody fits in. Varieties that grow best in cool climates, like pinot noir, have found homes from Monterey County in the north to Santa Maria Valley in the south. Heat loving grapes native to the Mediterranean thrive in the sunbaked vineyards east of Paso Robles. And there are nooks and crannies throughout the region with their own distinct weather patterns and soil types, giving them individual styles.

Fortunately for wine lovers, these places often appear on wine labels, so you know what you’re getting. Wise shoppers learn at least their two or three favorite places.

To help get us started, I’ve listed most of the main Central Coast vineyard areas. You’ll see three counties (some would include Santa Cruz), and the most important valleys or other names that often appear on wine labels. Just scanning this short list will help you to recognize them as you discover your own personal favorites.

California Central Coast Counties and Regions

Monterey County (Santa Lucia Highlands, Arroyo Seco, Carmel Valley)

San Luis Obispo County (Arroyo Grande, Paso Robles, Edna Valley)

Santa Barbara County (Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley)

In the next three issues we’ll explore each county, discussing their best vineyard sites, wineries and the grapes they grow best. We’ll also take a look at the styles of wine for which they are best known. That’s important information for a wine lover to know.

In the meantime, a classic Central Coast cabernet sauvignon from a place that many wine professionals believe has the purest expression of that grape’s flavor at an attractive price is California Karma, from Paso Robles. Made by the winemaker from Vina Robles, Matthias Gübler, it has a classic dark color, depth of flavor and drinkable style for its area. Cost about $12.

Categories: Legacy Archive