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The Impact of Soil on Santa Cruz Mountains Wine

Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains are grown in very thin and unfertile soils on a series of hillside slopes that face various directions. Elevation is a major variable as well. Granite is the most consistently present material in the region’s soils.

Most of the ridgelines run north-south, but there are exceptions. Subtle changes in elevation and angles of sun exposure make growing premium grapes a challenging, but rewarding process.

The eastern slopes of the AVA are home to many warm weather varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, and Syrah. Many of these vines overlook the Santa Clara Valley AVA. They are generally planted at elevations between 600 and 2,000 feet above sea level.

In the western part of the AVA, some grapes are planted as low as 800 feet above sea level to take advantage of coastal influence from the Pacific Ocean. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines are excellent here. But it would be an oversimplification to say that only cool weather varietals do well in the west.

For example, Beauregard Vineyards makes an excellent Syrah with grapes grown in this part of region. Beauregard is located in Ben Lomond, which is a sub-AVA in the southwestern part of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

> Santa Cruz Mountains Wineries

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