The Role of Soil & Terrain in Santa Lucia Highlands
The Influence of Santa Lucia Highlands Soil on Grape Growing
The Salinas Valley is approximately 10 to 15 miles wide and 85 miles long. Although the valley is better known for lettuce than it is for grapes, some great vineyards have emerged.
The region’s geology is comprised of a mix of continental and ocean floor crust as well as the results of volcanic activity. Burgundian varietals, (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay), thrive here because of the decomposed granite and limestone soils.
Most of the AVA’s vineyards are planted on alluvial benchlands at about 200 to 1,000 feet above sea level. Temperatures and sun exposures are very diverse among different vineyard locations. The southeastern part of the AVA is not as windy and is mainly planted with Pinot Noir, Bordeaux, and Rhone varietals. Vineyards in the northwestern part of the AVA are windier and normally planted with Chardonnay.
The Salinas Valley only gets about 5 to 15 inches of rain a year. Aleutian storms rarely affect the valley because it is too far south, and it is too far north to be affected much by tropical storms. The result is that vineyards are grown rocky, dry soils that do not have a lot of recently deposited organic matter in them.
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