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Why Santa Lucia Highlands is Suited for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

The Santa Lucia Highlands AVA is located in the southwestern hills of Salinas Valley in Monterey County. Mornings are often foggy and afternoon winds from Monterey Bay cool the region. The entire Salinas Valley has a very long growing season. In the vineyard, this leads to developed fruit flavors and high acidity levels; perfect for Pinot Noir.

Most of the Pinot Noir is planted in the slightly warmer, southeastern part of the AVA. The best vineyards are located high enough in the sunny hills to be less affected by morning fog. Despite the sunny climate, temperatures are mild almost never exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pinot Noir from these vineyards have substantial body, dark pigments, complex textures, and vibrant fruit flavors on the palate. Merlot also thrives in these warmer temperatures. Much of the region’s Pinot Noir and Merlot production is sold to non resident wineries.

The Santa Lucia Highlands is also renowned for producing Chardonnay in cooler, northwestern parts of the AVA. Chardonnay loves the cool weather, shallow soils, and low rainfall of the area.

These wines have more grace and finesse than Chardonnays from warmer regions. They have mineral notes and green apple flavors. Most are not overly oaked and undergo controlled malolactic fermentation. Double L and Mer Soleil are well known properties in this part of the region. Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Gewurztraminer are also grown in the AVA.

> Santa Lucia Highlands Wineries

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