The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2011

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Page 74 of 124

ROAD TRIP LocationEquation A The long the edge of the Pacific, California's northernmost Central Coast wine appellation is Monterey County. The wine growing region stretches across the Salinas Valley and into Carmel Valley—coolest in the north, where it is closest to the ocean, and warmest inland further south. Helping put Monterey on the map for serious wine lovers is the area's prestigious Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, where almost 6,000 acres of vines are planted to the likes of deep and plush Pinot Noirs and tropical, often floral, Chardonnays. Morning fog creeps in with an average 55-degree temperature that can warm by as much as 40 degrees on a summer day. An aggressive, predict- able wind picks up in the afternoon—as much as 30 miles per hour—cooling the fruit and resulting in an extended growing season. The grapes gently ripen; the wines become expressive. This long and narrow stretch sits up against the foothills of the Santa Lucia mountain range, with a glorious view across Salinas River Valley farm country, our nation's cornucopia. This is Steinbeck country. There is no alluring wine trail here, no fancy inns or trendy restaurants to refresh wine-seekers along the way. Monterey, with its seaside treasures and historical Cannery Row is almost an hour's drive away. Big Sur's rugged cliffs and winding Pacific Coast Highway is an adventure to the west of the mountain range, while lush and warm Carmel Valley, with its quaint, foodie-friendly village of the same name and dotted with chic resorts, is also at least an hour by car. We meandered through the valleys on our own trail, stopping at various wineries along the way. Here are some highlights. 74 / the tasting panel / september 201 1 by Meridith May / photos by Dianne Porchia MONTEREY COUNTY WINES ARE RECOGNIZED FOR THEIR CELEBRATED VINEYARD SITES A view of the Santa Lucia mountain range from a unique perspective at the Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad in the Salinas Valley, in central Monterey County, California. The Santa Lucia Highlands AVA is over 90 miles long but only about six miles across.

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