In our growing sites we look for shallow, rocky soils, good site selection and proper varietal match with the soil and climate. The often overlooked greater Monterey Bay Area has a plethora of underappreciated, rocky vineyards. Here are a few we love:
San Antonio Valley
The San Antonio Valley is in remote southwestern Monterey County, on the leeward side of the Ventana Range. We pick Petite Sirah from two blocks in the Y-Ranch section of the Pierce Vineyard. Block 1 is a west facing rocky hillside littered with chunks of white limestone, which at times are as large as two fists. Block 3 is a southeast facing slope where decomposed granite dominates the soils.
San Benito Valley
Spur Ranch is an 11,000 acre cattle, vineyard and walnut ranch in and around the Topo Valley in the southern Gabilan Mountains. Our portion of the vineyard is situated on a 1000-foot elevation, fifteen degree south facing slope on the south side of Chalone Peak. The soils are high-calcareous content clay over the same mica shist substrate that dominates the Chalone appellation.
Cedar Lane Vineyard
The Arroyo Seco appellation is comprised mainly of alluvial deposits from the Ventana Range. The Cedar Lane Vineyard, on a mesa overlooking the river, is well protected from the Salinas Valley breezes, which is important for the shy-setting Viognier grape. Rhone whites from this region ripen late in the season and show river-stone minerality and focus uncommon in the varieties.
La Belle Rose Vineyard
The Chardonnay block at La Belle Rose is tucked up against the base of Jack’s Hill, a geologically distinct iron-rich granite formation with limestone deposits. It is among the most northerly Salinas Valley vineyards, yielding late ripening, low sugar grapes beguiling for their mix of breadth and focus on the palate and intense minerality.