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Edna Valley: An Up and Coming Cool Climate AVA

Edna Valley AVA Pinot Noir

Hi all Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures.

So first welcome to what is a rainy end of the week here in San Francisco and I’m joined today by a Hitch Pinot Noir although in this case I’m not really interested in the winery so much as one thing that you don’t see all that often from random wineries: it’s an Edna Valley 2018 Pinot. 

So I thought that Edna Valley could use a couple minutes of time and ink spilled in this case.

So the Edna Valley is part of California’s Central Coast.  If you travel north from Santa Barbara you eventually hit San Luis Obispo. It’s about a 90-minute drive give or take.

So the Edna Valley the southernmost part of it is the city of San Luis Obispo and then the easternmost part is the Los Padres National Forest.  You follow that north for another probably 45 minutes or an hour in the car and you’ll hit the Santa Lucia mountain range and that kind of creates this little stretch of valley along the 101 highway that is the Edna Valley.

Before going on, there’s a winery by the same name, which always confuses everyone, but it’s a sign the region grew up after a winery was already there, showing the relative young age of the place. Although in this case we’re most interested in the AVA.

So why are we interested in the AVA, the short and long take is Pinot grapes are really really expensive and they continue to get more and more expensive and the number of areas that we can grow Pinot grapes is not that great. It’s not that great for a number of reasons but mostly because we need it to be pretty cold but we also need to be sunny. So sunny and cold don’t usually go together unless you have stuff like fog and that creates this kind of long growing season that Pinot needs so we see that obviously in Sonoma we see that in Mendocino County in California but then we’re also starting to see you know obviously in Oregon too and that’s kind of the same setup that you’re looking for. 

But you know if you hug the coast too much the grapes don’t get ripe and are too acidic for consumers to like them, but if you don’t hug the coast enough it gets too darn hot especially in

California and you blow through where you can realistically plant Pinot and kind of get anything that’s of any decent quality.

So that kind of brings these little smaller growing regions and AVA’s like the Edna Valley into the fold and so I think this is something that you’re going to see more often and more often moving forward.

Oregon grapes are getting expensive maybe even more expensive in the Willamette Valley than parts of Sonoma which if you had asked me three or four years ago I would have probably laughed at you.

Winemakers have realized that carting grapes down once a year is not that big of a deal especially when you have professional growers involved (I’ll add here that the professional grape growers can handle most of the standard 6 passes without a winemaker or vintner’s instructions, so those trips can be saved for actually picking grapes and bringing them home)

So I think you’re going to see a lot of kind of newer wineries newer winemakers kind of you know the winery in a box at a custom crush look to the Edna Valley as a place where they can probably you know source some grapes at a reasonable cost and make Pinot Noir because you know as much as we love the Rhone varietals that’s kind of not what the industry is made out of right now and it’s hell of a lot easier to sell Pinot or Cab than it is to sell Grenache as much as it pains me to say that.

So Edna Valley it’s a place that if you’re looking for affordable Pinot it’s an ava that you could look to and get a reasonable facsimile of what you would get out of Sonoma, Mendocino or and you know I really mean Anderson Valley.

Anderson Valley, Sonoma or Willamette Valley Oregon it’s kind of in that same range where it’s quality Pinot grapes grown in similar enough conditions and you know we’re not going to get into a long tail about soil composition all that stuff right now because i don’t think it’s worthwhile at least to say that this is a colder region where grapes can mature over a long period of time.

Having lived on Central Coast for a number of years myself I can speak to the fact that there are some darn cold sunny summer days and that’s exactly what growers and winemakers are looking for when they’re looking for a Pinot Noir vineyard.

So once again Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures, if you’re interested in a wine club hopefully we’re the spot thanks

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