Just 24km south of Monterey Bay, the Santa Lucia Highlands is one of America’s top regions for cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. A legacy of multi-generational farming, an authentic commitment to sustainability and winemakers who readily combine technology and tradition to craft expressive, single-vineyard wines have propelled the appellation’s prestigious reputation.
The region is comprised of 2,600ha of vines – primarily Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which thrive in a marine climate blanketed by cool, foggy mornings followed by warm afternoon winds. It’s this unique weather pattern rolling down the Salinas Valley from Monterey Bay that gives the Santa Lucia Highlands one of the longest grape growing seasons in California, allowing for ideal ripening conditions and mature flavour development.
Monterey Bay wineries to visit
The Santa Lucia Highlands vineyards are an hour’s drive outside of Monterey Bay, so many producers cater to customers by offering their wines in convenient tasting rooms in Monterey, Carmel and Carmel Valley.
Hahn Family Wines
As winemaking pioneers of the Santa Lucia Highlands and the formidable force behind the appellation’s designation in the early 1990s, Swiss-born Nicolaus (Nicky) and Gaby Hahn were instrumental in turning the loam and granite hillsides of the east-facing slopes of Santa Lucia Highlands into world-class vineyards. Starting with Bordeaux varieties and later realising the cool-climate region was better suited to Burgundy’s best, they grafted Hahn’s 260ha over to mainly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the late 1990s. Today, the Hahn family remains the largest vineyard owner and producer in the region. A visit to the estate allows guests options for walking and driving tours of the vineyards along with several distinct wine-tasting experiences. Hahn’s tasting room overlooks the stunning Salinas Valley and offers the vintage Brut Rosé vintage sparkling, the estate-grown, single-vineyard Lucienne line of Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, a gutsy GSM blend, as well as the small-production Orchestral, a field blend of 20 Pinot Noir clones from a 2ha plot.
- Address: 37700 Foothill Road, Soledad, CA 93960
- Estate tasting room: open 7 days’ a week, 11am-5pm. Reservations required for groups of 6 or more
- Carmel tasting room: open 7 days’ a week, 12pm-6pm. Reservations required for groups of 4 or more
Founded in 1993 by Rob and Diana Jensen in their Silicon Valley garage, Testarossa (Italian for ‘red head’) launched with 300 bottles of wine. Today it produces 30,000 cases and enjoys a reputation for small-lot, single-vineyard, cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir sourced from some of California’s top growers in Santa Lucia Highlands, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Rita Hills, Chalone and more, which contributes to the quality and consistency of these highly collectible wines. Testarossa’s dog-friendly Carmel Valley tasting room offers indoor or patio seating, hosts ongoing wine education classes and features tastings of both their single-vineyard and appellation bottles.
- Address: 300 College Avenue, Los Gatos, CA 95030
- Testarossa Los Gatos tasting room: open 7 days a week from 11am-5pm
- Carmel Valley tasting room: Sunday-Friday 12pm- 5 pm, Saturday, 11am-6 pm
McIntyre Family Wines
As an accomplished winemaker and grape grower who’s had a hand in cultivating more than 20% of the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, Steve McIntyre is a trailblazer. Instrumental in bringing SIP (Sustainability in Practice) certification to the region, the 32ha of his own McIntyre Vineyards was unsurprisingly one of the first to be certified. He makes a Pinot Noir rosé from 45-year-old vineyards, a concentrated Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir from some of the region’s oldest own-rooted vines, and small-lot, hand-harvested, block bottlings of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to highlight the appellation’s best terroirs. You can taste these and other wines at the…
Source : https://www.decanter.com/wine-travel/monterey-bay-wine-lovers-425866/