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Wine Spectator School

Class 7: New World Model: California

central coast


Climate and Geography

The coastal region between San Francisco and Los Angeles includes Monterey, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

The maritime effect is powerful because in some spots the Coastal Range runs east-west and the valleys open directly onto the Pacific.


Key Wines

Central Coast vintners make everything from sparkling wine to Zinfandel.

As in most regions we've discussed, the warmer areas away from cooling ocean fogs grow Cabernet, Merlot, Zinfandel, Rhône varieties and some Chardonnay, while the areas nearer the water produce Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.


Key Sub regions

Monterey County

Arroyo Seco is known for Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs with good fruit flavors and a silky mouthfeel.

In the warmer Santa Lucia Highlands, Cabernet and Merlot are grown in addition to Chardonnay.

San Luis Obispo County


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