The Impact of Climate on Santa Lucia Highlands Wine

Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir is produced from grapes grown on hillsides that face southeast. The AVA is located on the southwestern side of the Salinas Valley in Monterey County. Winds from Monterey Bay cool the region and the climate has been compared to the Burgundy region of France.

 Pinots from the region often have complex textures and vibrant flavors on the palate. The entire Salinas Valley has a very long growing season. This phenomena is largely due to the prevalent fog that is derived from the cool waters of the Monterey Bay. This leads to developed fruit flavors and high acidity levels; perfect for Pinot Noir.

Most of the Pinot Noir is planted in the slightly warmer, southeastern part of the AVA. The best vineyards are located high enough in the sunny hills to be unaffected by morning fog. Despite the sunny climate, temperatures are mild almost never exceed 85 degrees fahrenheit. Wines made from these grapes are typically fuller-bodied and have dark pigments for Pinot standards.

The Impact of Climate on Santa Lucia Highlands Wine

The Santa Lucia Highlands have also gained renown for producing Chardonnay that is true to the varietal’s inherent, Burgundian characteristics. Chardonnay loves the cool weather, shallow soils and low rainfall of the AVA. These wines have more grace and finesse than Chardonnays from warmer areas. They tend to have mineral notes and green apple flavors. Most are not overly oaked and undergo meticulously controlled maloactic fermentation.

The northwest part of the AVA is dominated by Chardonnay. Double L and Mer Soleil are well-known properties in this part of the region.