The Secrets of the Paicines

Long after the early Mission vineyard plantings were abandoned, the Paicines growing region was rediscovered some 40 years ago by Almaden.

It then was again deserted as a bulk brand-growing region for more lucrative areas, but now is being reclaimed, this time as a high-end growing area.

Donati Family Vineyard is the only brand located in the Paicines appellation, which is in the center of coastal California, about an hour from San Jose to the north and Monterey to the west. There are approximately five other vineyards within the appellation, growing primarily Bordeaux varieties. Neighboring appellations are home to Calera Wine Company, Chalone Vineyard, Leal Vineyards and DeRose Vineyards.

The Paicines appellation is about 17 miles north of Pinnacles National Monument and Park, and consists of about 4,500 acres of grape-growing area. On the western side are the Cienega Vineyards and the Gabilan Mountain Range, which separate Paicines from San Lucas and King City.

The San Luis Dam, New Idria and the Panoche Valley are on the eastern edge. The San Benito River forms a portion of the western boundary and continues on through the vineyards.

The Paicines area is in a wind tunnel of cool ocean air flowing to the San Joaquin Valley. Because of the relative lack of trees adjacent to the vineyard areas, Paicines is open to the direct influence of these winds. In the afternoon, it experiences a slight cooling breeze that comes in off the Monterey Valley.

At night, Paicines is more protected from the fog than much of the surrounding area because of its open location. However, during periods of extremely heavy fog, the area tends to hold the fog longer.

Elevation ranges from 500 to 1,200 feet above sea level. The average elevation is lower than much of the surrounding area, which is closer to the Gabilan Mountain Range. The climate differs greatly from the area surrounding the Gabilans, with annual rainfall between 12 and 15 inches.

The Paicines area is comprised of various soil associations, including Sorrento, Mocho, Clear Lake, Willows, Rincon, Antioch, Diablo, Soper, San Benito and Linne. The soils are generally well drained and of various depths, and the root zones are quite deep. There are some steady alluvial fans and terrace escarpments with rapid runoff—all in all, ideal for growing cool-climate winegrapes.

Posted in Wine Region Profiles
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