Wines From California’s Santa Lucia Highlands
Article by SouthFloridaReporter.com
Listen to the winemakers and grape growers in the Santa Lucia Highlands and you’d think there is no better place to make wine. They may be right.
This 18-mile-long sub-appellation benefits from a confluence of climate phenomena. A deep canyon of cold water, just offshore of the Pacific Ocean, fuels winds that sweep down the Salinas Valley at speeds of 10 to 15 miles per hour and often gusting to 25.
Morgan winemaker Dan Lee called the winds “our air-conditioner.”
Most of the well-drained vineyards are planted on the lower slopes of the Santa Lucia mountain range at elevations ranging from 50 to 1,650 feet. Granite and other minerals that wash down from the mountains and enrich the soil.
Coupled with the morning fog, the winds create a condition too cold for zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon, but perfect for chardonnay and pinot noir – the two primary grapes grown in the region’s 5,900 planted acres.
Cooler conditions lengthen the growing season, the longest in all of California. Grapes ripen slowly and develop stronger acidity. Low rainfall, especially during crucial ripening periods, forces stressed roots to glide through loose sandy loam to absorb the minerals and create multi-dimensional wines. Berries are small and thick-skinned too. The wines we tasted from here have a consistent vibrancy, balanced acidity, and depth of flavor.
Santa Lucia Highlands may not have the tourist attractions of Napa Valley, but it certainly has the vineyards to give Napa a run for its money. Carmel, Monterey, and Big Sur offer upscale accommodations and for visitors.
Morgan Double L Vineyard Riesling 2019 ($25). With just a touch of residual sugar, this fresh and bright riesling gives this grape variety new life. Meyer lemon aromas, apple and melon flavors.
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