Santa Cruz Mountains Climate & Grape Growing
The Different Microclimates of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA
Western facing vineyards are cooled by wind and fog from the coast. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Riesling thrive in these conditions. One of my favorite wines from this part of the AVA is the Clos La Chance Chardonnay.
Very few vines are planted below 1,000 feet on the ocean side because there simply is not enough sun exposure. However, there is some Pinot Noir planted at about 800 feet above sea level. David Bruce has an excellent Pinot Noir vineyard in the western part of the AVA.
Eastern facing slopes are much sunnier and are exposed to less wind and fog. Precipitation is also lower in these vineyards. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Zinfandel do very well here. Paul Draper, of Ridge Vineyards, is a master with the Zinfandel grape. Additionally, he grows Cabernet Sauvignon in Ridge’s Montebello Vineyard. Fogarty Winery also makes a great Cabernet Sauvignon with grapes from the AVA.
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