The SOMM Journal

June / July 2017

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Page 65 of 124

{ }  65 DISCOVERING WHAT MAKES SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS WINES SO SPECIAL story and photos by Randy Caparoso growers throwing thunderous bolts down at the rest of the American wine industry. The term "mountain" has been bastard - ized so much over the past 50 years, it is easy to forget the impact of this brand of viticulture. When you grow grapes near or well above fog lines (on the California coast, at 1,000 to 1,200 feet), sunlight and photosynthesis are maximized, while mod - erate temperatures and less than promis- cuous soils lead to different definitions of things like varietal character. Black-skinned Bordeaux grapes yield ironman reds, stron - ger in phenols than in fruitiness. White wine grapes produce wines leaning towards minerals and acid. Edgier styles of Pinot Noir smell and taste like the wind blowing through fir, old-growth redwood, madrone or buckeye. Perhaps this is why, despite a wine - growing histor y dating back to the 1860s, Santa Cruz Mountains is often over- looked among today's ocean of wines. They don't make easy comparisons with other West Coast wines. In fact, if any American wines consistently ring truly of "place"—and less of arbitrarily defined "varietal" character or shamelessly score- focused manipulation—it may be the wines of Santa Cruz Mountains. Conversations with three of our Somm Camp hosts, representing the region's iconic tradition of bold, brazen winemaking. in the sky in in in in the the the the sky MAKES sky MAKES sky sky sky

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