Due to its distinctive North-South orientation and the maritime influence of Monterey Bay, Monterey Wine Country is a very hospitable region for Pinot Noir. And nowhere is Pinot Noir more beautifully manifest than the Santa Lucia Highlands (SLH).
Set laterally along 12 miles of foothills overlooking the Salinas Valley, the SLH American Viticulture Area (AVA) is one of the most prestigious in all of California, with a reputation not only for elegant, cool-climate Pinot Noir, but Chardonnay and Syrah as well.
Though SLH was planted to wine grapes by Spanish missionaries and conquistadors as early as the 1790s, it was first planted commercially in 1973. Nearly twenty years later, the SLH AVA was established thanks to the suggestion of Nicky Hahn of Hahn Winery. Today, the SLH AVA is home to 46 vineyard properties comprising 6100 acres of some of America’s happiest vines.
From SantaLuciaHighlands.com: The vineyards of the Highlands are planted on the terraces of the Santa Lucia mountain range, overlooking the Salinas River Valley. Here, fogs and breezes off nearby Monterey Bay funnel southeast, between the Santa Lucia and Gabilan ranges, creating a cool, true Region I climate. The vines’ elevated sites take full advantage of the morning sunshine before the stiff, afternoon maritime winds slow down photosynthesis, making for long, gentle ripening. The exceptionally long SLH growing season of early bud break, lack of fall rains, and prolonged harvests allow the grapes to develop full, phenolic ripeness and flavors.
Here are a few of the wineries who represent Santa Lucia Highlands:
- Belle Glos
- Mer Soleil
- Kosta – Browne
- La Rochelle