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The Impact of Climate on Cienega Valley Wine Production

The Diablo Mountain Range is located directly east of the Cienega Valley AVA. These mountains separate the region from the hot Central Valley. The local climate is mainly suited to red varietal production. But there are also several white grapes that thrive in the region, namely Viognier.

The AVA is quite elevated and most vineyards are planted at about 1,100 feet above sea level. Like many of California’s elevated wine regions. The Cienega Valley has warm, sunny days and cool nights. This allows the grapes to develop flavors and tannins and also retains acidity levels. This combination is well suited to fuller bodied, high alcohol varietals that need sufficient acidity for balance.

The growing season in Cienega Valley is very long for California standards. This long growing season allows for very late harvests and ample hang time for grapes. It is not uncommon for harvest to occur in mid November here. In contrast, harvest in Napa Valley rarely lasts past early October and is often finished in September.

The AVA is just close enough to the Monterey Bay to receive some cooling influence from the ocean. Afternoon winds cool the vines and continue overnight. But this is the border of land that is affected by the coast. Regions to the east are definitively inland in nature.

> San Benito Wineries

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