Monterey County is legendary for its breathtaking views and incredible wildlife. The way that weather, earth, and ocean combine together make it a dream come true for nature lovers or anyone who just wants to slip away into the area’s quixotic charms. There’s more to the county than one might think at first glance. Sure, the cool ocean breezes, evening fog, and moderate temperatures are all staples of the area, but to view the region as all following the same weather pattern would be far too simplistic. Diverse soil types, varying amounts of wind and fog, as well as generally increasing summertime highs from north to south, mean the appellation has the ability to produce a wide variety of wines.
Commercial wineries have flourished in Monterey beginning in the 1960’s The Grand Blue Canyon, as Monterey Bay is know in wine circles, has a great influence over the viticulture of the region, which covers a great area, stretching from the edge of San Luis Obispo to the top of Paso Robles. In between, there is a great amount of variety, and those who grow grapes, have taken full advantage of it. There are currently 42 different varietals being grown within the nine different American Viticulture Area (AVAs) of Monterey County. Each AVA has its own unique set of growing conditions that contribute to the county’s Thermal Rainbow. In the north, it’s generally cooler and more heavily influenced by the bay. Down south, closer to Paso Robles, the temperatures are generally warmer, with the bay’s influence coming in the form of afternoon breezes. We’d like to share the “personality” of each AVA so anyone unfamiliar with the region can start to understand just what a one-of-a kind place Monterey County is and just how many different wines there are to try when you travel along the Thermal Rainbow
Over time, certain areas of Monterey County have been found to have their own distinct characteristics. Within Monterey County, there are now eight smaller AVAs (American Viticultural Areas), each one with its own unique identity, giving visitors a chance to compare and contrast the types of wine each produces.
Today, approximately 85 vintners and growers are established throughout Monterey County, between them growing over 40,000 acres of wine grapes.
Link to wine map: http://montereywines.org/monterey-wines/find-your-favorite/
The Blue Grand Canyon
- One of the world’s deepest marine canyons
- Only marine canyon that directly impacts a major wine growing region
- Deep, cold waters influence weather throughout Monterey County
Hidden beneath the surface of the Monterey Bay is an enormous submarine canyon that is sixty miles long and two miles deep. The largest and deepest on the West Coast, this canyon is also unique in its close proximity to the shoreline. Comparable in size and depth to its more visible counterpart in Arizona, this Monterey geologic wonder has been nicknamed the “Blue Grand Canyon™.
From jellyfish and sea otters to oak trees and grapes, everything in Monterey County is directly influenced by the Bay and Canyon. The wines of the Blue Grand Canyon are no exception.
Formed two million years ago, the Blue Grand Canyon’s influence is felt from the coastline at Del Monte Beach to inland San Antonio Valley. The wines of the Blue Grand Canyon deliciously express their birthplace – their style and structure are a reflection of their vineyards’ “sense of place” in relation to this unique meeting of land and sea.
Eight Primary Soil Types
- Over eighty percent of the vineyards are comprised of eight, optimal soil types
- Soils: Oceano Loamy Sand, Lockwood Shaly Loam, Chualar Loam, Garey Sandy Loam, Arroyo Seco Gravelly Sandy Loam, Rincon Clay Loam and Placentia Sandy Loam
- Alluvial, porous, granite and limestone rich-perfect for grapevines
- Forty degree temperature variance, north to south, on a summer day
- Ocean air/winds act as an “air conditioning system”, mitigating temperatures and extending growing season
- Dictates the proper varietal planting choices for each sub-appellation
The Thermal Rainbow gives a succinct, visual representation of the Blue Grand Canyon’s™ influence on the temperatures and subsequent varietal selection throughout Monterey Wine Country. The coolest districts are to the north, closest to the ocean and the warmest areas are to the south of the county, furthest from the ocean.
This is an experience not to be missed!