I love this area. I love the landscape and the environmental diversity. We’ve got ocean, mountains, rivers, deserts, redwood valleys, beaches, highland meadows, canyons, plateaus. Our climate is very much influenced by the ocean and the winds and fog that originate from it but that’s a gross generalization that is often lost when examining the microclimates all around the County. “Microclimates” are created by many highly localized factors and how those factors affect one another: what direction a piece of property is facing (south vs. north? windward vs. leeward?), the types of soils in that spot (sandy loam vs. granite vs clay? Thin dry soil vs. rich deep soil?), the geographic presentation (hillside? valley floor? mountain valley?). The concept of microclimate is further expanded when wine grapes are grown on the site – the unique characteristics of a particular varietal will express the values of the site in certain ways that other varietals will not. The deep roots of grapevines will reach minerals buried in the soil that become an innate part of the tissues of the vine and eventually the fruit grown on it. In a sense, each vineyard in each microclimate expresses the character and spirit of that piece of land and the millions of years of geological and geographical shift that went into its creation – pretty heady, heavy ideas perhaps but this is the stuff of passion for making wine – it’s why I come to work! When the grapes from a vineyard come to the winery, it’s my job and duty to make the best wine I can to do justice to the site, stay true to the spirit of the place and the farmers which altogether make those grapes unique and interesting.
Sorry Napa. With all your Cabernet dominated brilliance you can’t brag about the same things we can here. I can visit vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands that are steeped in the bounty of marvelous Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and then drive 30 minutes across the Salinas Valley and find myself in a little mountain valley at over 2,000 feet walking amongst some of the most fragrant, historic Pinot Blanc, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre ever. Then I can get back in my car and drive to Arroyo Seco to walk through Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot that’s planted on an old dry riverbench. Afterward I drive further south where grow a variety of high quality reds: Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, Tempranillo. Doesn’t get much more diverse or interesting than that.
So, that’s what inspires us at Cima Collina and that’s why we say you can taste Monterey County at our tasting room as we offer wines from all over: Carmel Valley, Arroyo Seco, Santa Lucia Highlands, Chalone, Cholame, San Antonio Valley. We don’t use many winemaking “tricks” and don’t even use much new oak so that the character of the grapes and the site they are grown on can shine.
by Annette Hoff Danzer, Cima Collina Winemaker