The Best Wines from the Central Coast

California's Central Coast is celebrated for its exceptional wines. Artisan winemakers craft award-winning varieties, reflecting the region's diverse terroir.
Divided into northern and southern regions, notable AVAs like Santa Lucia Highlands and Paso Robles thrive. Monterey County excels in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with Livermore Valley contributing significantly to Chardonnay production. Additionally, the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Santa Barbara County produce excellent wines. But interestingly, small and renowned wineries (like Sine Qua Non) contribute to the region's esteemed reputation.

Suppliers in Central Coast

Arnot Roberts  |  Au Bon Climat  |  Calera  |  DAOU Vineyards  |  Domaine de la Cote  |  Grands Joueurs Vignerons  |  Jonata  |  Kosta Browne  |  Lillian  |  Ridge  |  Sandhi  |  Saxum  |  Sine Qua Non
All wines in Central Coast
Central Coast

History of wines from Central Coast

Vineyards were initially planted in the Central Coast during the 1700s as early explorers from Spain discovered wild grapes. Spanish missionaries established the most early vineyards as they mainly cultivated the Mission variety. They moved north from San Diego and Los Angeles counties towards San Francisco. During the 1920 (which was a era of prohibition) the burgeoning wine industry faced near-obliteration. Which only began to revive during the American wine renaissance of the (1960s-1970s), that was driven by winemakers exploring the unique expressions of terroir in California.

The terroir of wines from Central Coast

The majority of the viticulture area lie in the valley that leads into the Pacific Ocean. The proximity of the coast favours the cultivation of the vines , especially in the mornings. Basically, the temperature is lower, the atmosphere is humid, and the exposure of the sun is limited by the formation of clouds.

The San Andreas Fault shapes the type of soils prevalent in the Central Coast AVAs. To the west, limestone-rich soils from an ancient seabed can be found. The Salinas Valley has shale and loam type of soil, while the San Francisco Bay area features sandy and gravelly soils. Even the soil depth varies, favouring wine quality in mountains and high yields in valleys.

The grapes of wines from Central Coast

The Central Coast's varied geography and microclimates foster a rich tapestry of over 100 grape varieties, highlighting the appellation's distinct characteristics. Despite a significant latitude variance from Burgundy, the region's climate is conducive to Burgundian grapes such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. As temperatures rise further inland, conditions become increasingly favourable for sun-loving varietals like Syrah. Zinfandel also flourishes in the warmer inland regions of San Benito County and Paso Robles, while Cabernet Sauvignon excels at higher elevations, particularly in the Santa Cruz Mountains north of Monterey Bay.

Classifications of wines from Central Coast

In the late 1970s, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) established the American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) to legally designate wine regions based on geographic characteristics. The Central Coast AVA includes multiple sub-regions and has over 27 AVAs. These AVAs are known for producing diverse styles and expressions. This AVA's winegrowing area stretches from Santa Barbara to San Francisco, including the esteemed regions like the York Mountains and Santa Ynez Valley.

Added to favorites.