A wine region that has really come into its own in the new millennium is the Santa Lucia Highlands area of Monterey County.
Here’s how the growers and vintners of the Highlands describe their special place:
“The appellation encompasses more than 6,000 acres of prime vineyards, planted on the elevated terraces of the Santa Lucia mountain range, all heavily influenced by close proximity to Monterey Bay.”
Official American Viticultural Area status came in 1991, and now that most of the grapevines have been producing for 15 years or longer, the wines being made from them are truly stellar.
It’s a cool climate (weather-wise), so the Highlands’ specialty has become Pinot Noir and Chardonnay—two varieties that thrive in cooler areas. There’s also a good deal of tasty Syrah being crafted.
The wines clubs of Vinesse feature Santa Lucia Highlands wines on a fairly regular basis, and come May 19, wine lovers will have an opportunity to sample a whole bunch of Highlands wines when the 6th annual Wine Artisans of the Santa Lucia Highlands Gala is staged at Mer Soleil Winery.
Here is an excerpt from a press release on the event: “The celebration will be a strolling wine tasting through the barrel cellar of Mer Soleil, a venue not normally open to the public. Guests will have the opportunity to sample rare vintages, in many cases poured by the vintners themselves.”
Wineries scheduled to participate (long-time club members will recognize several names):
- August West
- Belle Glos
- J. Lohr
- La Rochelle
- Mer Soleil
- Puma Road
Paradise Catering will provide some great food, and there also will be music and a “big bottle” silent auction.
Mer Soleil Winery, the northernmost vineyard estate in the Highlands, is owned by the Wagner family of Caymus, Belle Glos and Conundrum fame. It’s a state-of-the-art facility that’s worth seeing. And the Gala gives you a great “excuse” to do just that.