A Glance into Coastal Range Vineyards’ Terroir
Coastal Range Vineyards manages and consults on a multitude of private and commercial vineyards that are spread over four different American Viticultural Areas (AVA’s) in California’s greater Central Coast Appellation. Amongst the various microclimates, we farm an array of different varietals that best suite the particular terroir of each site. Our main goal is to grow wine grapes to their utmost quality and potential, while expressing a sense of place from which they were derived.
The Santa Cruz Mountains AVA is one of the oldest wine growing regions in California. Topographic extremes are complimented by diverse soil types, which lead the way to very distinctive wines. The western slopes of this coastal range provide ideal climate for Burgundian varieties such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. These varieties of Vitis vinifera thrive here and retain superb acid levels, due to immense diurnal shift and maritime influence. The cool nights are not as prevalent on the eastern slopes of the AVA, where we find an immense shift in viticultural array.
Cabernet Sauvignon, along side other Bordeaux varieties, flourish on the eastern slopes of the mountains. Warmer microclimates and less influence from the Pacific Ocean, have proven to be more than ideal to ripen award winning wines for many decades. Rhone varietals, Zinfandel, and many other varieties have enjoyed great success here as well. Many sub- regions exist in these mountains, one of which (Ben Lomond Mountain) has been delineated as its own AVA.
Below an elevation of 800 ft., the Santa Clara Valley Appellation lies adjacent to the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. Encompassing the Silicon Valley, this AVA has immense history and is home to many wineries with strong reputations. Less mountainous in topography, we find more alluvial silt loam and deeper, more fertile soils here. Much of the planted acreage in this AVA has gradually been pushed south by the constant urban sprawl, resulting in many small residential vineyards. The versatility of this growing region allows us to plant almost any variety, including cultivars originally from Burgundy, Rhone, Bordeaux, Italy etc.
Traveling further south between the Santa Cruz and the Gabilan Ranges, lies the San Benito County AVA. We are just now getting familiar with this dynamic appellation that was made famous by the consistently reputable Calera Wines. Their founder Josh Jensen has secured a sub-appellation for their estate vineyards know as Mt. Harlen as of 1990. We look forward to working with more vineyards in this AVA, as the potential is becoming more and more realized.
San Mateo County AVA is a notable mention, which has received more recognition in the last decade through the gems produced by the Rhys Vineyards Family Farm and Home Ranch Vineyards. We find this appellation to be very unique and a stellar location for Pinot Noir. High up on the peninsula, maritime influence from both the Pacific Ocean and the lower San Francisco Bay create a coastal microclimate that is unlike any other in California.
With all of these diverse appellations, we at Coastal Range Vineyards are truly grateful to be farming here. Every year brings a unique vintage, and we look forward to each with open minds and an ambition to strive towards meticulous viticulture practices.