Tuesday, August 9, 2016
One of the places I most wanted to visit on my trip to Salinas were the vineyards and wineries in the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation. This appellation is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary and in that time has become recognized as producing the best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in California.
Thanks to a cool climate the flanks and elevated terraces of the mountains proved to be the perfect place to plant these Burgundy varietals.
Now it has it own wine road as well called the River Road and this we took to visit some of these vineyards and wineries. One day we were at Hahn Winery taking both vineyard and winery tours. There is also an elegant tasting room and outside deck that offers an amazing sweeping view of the Salinas Valley below.
Here we met Winemaker Paul Clifton and took part in a barrel tasting of Pinot Noir from different vineyards.
Hahn has one thousand acres of vineyards in the appellation and is currently producing 400,000 cases of wine a year, almost all Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
We were back on the River Road the following day to visit three of the eleven wineries that make up the wine trail. The first was Puma Road Winery and then Pessagno Winery. Both of these wineries are under the ownership of Ray Franscioni whose family have been farmers in the Salinas Valley for generations.
Winemaker for both wineries is Oliver Rousset who makes wines from ten varietals and all of them estate grown.
Odonata Winery began in the Santa Clara Valley and then moved to Salinas in 2012. The source grapes are from both Santa Clara and Salinas vineyards and Odonata currently is making wines from twenty three different varietals. Owner and winemaker is Denis Hoey.
At the time of our visit all the wineries were getting ready for a harvest which is due to begin in a few weeks.
The forecast was for high quality but a smaller yield thanks to a cool summer.