Monterey boasts one of the most dramatic meetings of land and sea on Earth. And these same scenic elements that make Monterey among the world’s favorite vacation destinations also combine to create conditions perfect for growing wine grapes.
It is no accident that wines listing Monterey County on the label as their source are among the world’s finest. In very few places will you find such an optimum synthesis of location, soil, and climate - the raw materials necessary to every successful vineyard. It is impossible for even the most talented, experienced vintner to craft a truly great wine without first having truly great grapes to work with.
Whether hailing from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Australia, or California, the one common theme in every world-class wine is their “sense of place.” The French term this reflection of locale “terroir, ” literally “ground or soil.” Simply put, it means that the wine’s character speaks directly to the place it was grown.
In Monterey County, after five plus decades of commercial winegrowing, certain areas and microclimates have been identified as being uniquely suited to raising specific grapes. The Federal government officially sanctions the effort to identify truly one-of-a-kind winegrowing districts through its system of “American Viticultural Areas” or “AVAs.” When appearing on a label, these legal place names impart to the consumer important information and guarantees about the wine’s origin. By law, to use one of these official site designations, 85% of that bottle’s grapes must have been grown within the AVA’s boundaries. (use label shot with AVA highlighted, as in the first video) These American Viticultural Areas can be fairly large and broad, like “Monterey.” Or they can be very small in size and focus, such as our local “Chalone” AVA, encompassing only a few acres and vineyards. But for every winemaker, the very building blocks of their craft begin with where the grapes were grown.
Monterey County now encompasses eight smaller AVAs, in addition to the larger, overall “Monterey” appellation. Understanding the swift rise to international prominence of the Monterey wine industry lies in a careful examination of the special properties of these distinct growing districts. How each officially designated region defines itself through its soils, climate, topography, viticultural practices, and people provides the key to “what’s in the bottle.”
From Carmel Valley and the Santa Lucia Highlands in the north to San Bernabe and San Antonio Valley in the south, the story of Monterey’s AVAs is one of science and experience married to inspiration and art. The very essence of this incredibly beautiful region deliciously captured in a bottle…Wines that have an identity, a character, a sense of place…