Contra Costa, Alameda and Santa Clara
East of Oakland, Contra Costa County has some parcels of very old vine Zinfandel and Mourvèdre, but little commercial production takes place here. Just south is Alameda County, where the Livermore AVA is located, with its rocky soil suited to Bordeaux varieties. The climate is a cool Region III because of the cool breezes that come in from the San Francisco Bay. South of Alameda County is Santa Clara County, and the Santa Clara Valley along the western edge of the County was a well known source for a large value wine producer. In the south of Santa Clara Valley is the cool climate San Ysidro AVA.Santa Cruz Mountains
To the west of Santa Clara is the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, a high-elevation region (minimum elevation is 1000 ft) with a climate that is mainly Region I. Some sites are exposed to breezes from the ocean, while others get warmer air from the Santa Clara Valley. This is a fairly old region, established in the mid-19th century, and home to the legendary Ridge Monte Bello vineyard, originally planted over 100 years ago. In the mid-20th century, the region was rejuvenated through the efforts of a few producers. Finally, a relatively minor subregion within the Santa Cruz Mountain AVA is the Ben Lomond AVA, located near the town of Santa Cruz.Monterey
Monterey is a fairly recent vineyard area, long dominated by jug or so-called generic wine. Many vineyards are now being planted and old ones replanted for quality wine production. Since the northern part of the area has a cool Region I climate and is exposed to heavy maritime influence from the ocean, this region produces better white grapes than black ones. High winds can also keep grapes from ripening and much of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot planted here can give wine with the bell pepper greenness of unripe fruit. Arroyo Seco
Monterey is a large AVA, and two of the quality foci are the Arroyo Seco AVA, with sandy, rocky soil and the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, located on the alluvial fans on the western side of the Salinas. Carmel Valley
West of the Santa Lucia Highlands is Carmel Valley, producing mainly red wines. The vines produce fairly small berries, giving deeply colored, tannic wines similar in some ways to Napa fruit.
On the other side of the Salinas lie Chalone AVA and a cluster of AVAs in San Benito County: Mount Harlan, Paicines, Cienega, Lime Kiln and Pacheco Pass. Chalone has a fairly warm Region II climate and high elevation vineyards (1,800 ft.) in the Gavial Mountains. Finally, in the southernmost part of Monterey County is the AVA of San Lucas, which is a very hot Region IV vineyard, producing fairly industrial wine.
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