3 Interesting Cool Climate Vineyard Locations in California

By: Mark Aselstine

Cool climate vineyards have become all the rage. In California we’re seeing it happen perhaps more quickly than it is elsewhere, largely because so many regions are already feeling planted out. It’s hard to find prime vineyard space in places like Napa Valley, the Russian River Valley and large swatches of Paso Robles.

Those expensive sites and difficult to find land has caused farmers and vintners to search for sites that were once considered marginal. Whereas a decade ago these marginal spots likely were only the warmer inland regions where you knew the grapes would ripen, vintners are increasingly looking into colder sites as consumer preferences for more acidic wine continue to evolve.

Here’s 3 spots where Cabernet Franc is starting to grow and grow really well within California:

Paso Robles: So Paso’s long been known as one of the true up and coming growing regions in the state. In fact it’s been called everything from “the next Napa” to Wine Spectator’s Wine Region of the Year. Most of the cool climate spots are planted, what’s left is warmer to the east of the 101, or colder to the west of the famed Adelaida District. Those western sites are interesting on a few levels, not only because they’re fog covered almost 12 hours a day on average. There’s a number of wineries now sourcing Cabernet Franc from those vineyards like Field Recordings

Mountainside Vineyards in Napa: I won’t try to break them down any further, but there’s Cabernet Franc being planted in small amounts on hillsides throughout Napa and Sonoma. Sure, most of it is being used as a blending grape, but not all. Some extremely well known and respected winemakers continue to make varietal specific versions of Cabernet Fran. Palate Exposure gives a pretty good look into their top 10.

Santa Ynez Valley: Mike Roth once made the highly acclaimed wines at Demetria, he’s moved on to focus on his own label Lo-Fi with a friend. One of the best received wines he produces every year is a Cabernet Franc. Santa Barbara County is an interesting place for wine growers, the coast is largely considered too cold for anything to grow and grow well. Temperature increases as you move inland. A few degrees on average per mile. That’s exactly the setup of a spot to grow some damn good Cabernet Franc!


About The Author

Owner and Proprietor of Uncorked Ventures an online wine club and gift basket company, one of the most enjoyable aspects to my job is meeting the people who craft the wines that we all enjoy.

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