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The Impact of Mount Harlan Climate on Chardonnay Production

Calera Wine Company is located in the nearby town of Hollister. Mount Harlan is classified as Region I on the UC Davis heat summation scale. The AVA’s cool temperatures and consistent sunshine lead to a very long growing season. Jenson is able to retain enviable levels of acidity in his Chardonnay while letting the grapes ripen with extra hang-time.

Because annual rainfall is rarely over 20 inches, showers in late fall are rare. This is the key to leaving the grapes on the vine for an extra critical few weeks; rain during this time would dilute the goal of concentrating flavors in the grapes.

Most vineyards on the mountain are planted at about 2200 feet above sea level. The combination of the AVA’s high elevation and relatively close proximity to the coast makes it quite sunny, but also one of the state’s coolest grape growing regions. Regular winds from Monterey Bay cool Jenson’s Burgundian varietals, and are particularly beneficial for his pristine Chardonnay grapes.

I tried a Calera Mount Harlan Chardonnay once, and it had a purity and focus of purpose that was quite evident. So much California Chardonnay these days is overly oaked and has overblown malolactic fermentation. Jenson’s Chardonnay retains its fresh apple flavors with just enough oak and malolactic fermentation for complexity.

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