California’s South Coast Wine Region
The South Coast is known for its sunshine, the entertainment industry and beautiful beaches. Visitors to the region can explore the landmarks of Hollywood, the magic of Disneyland, the adventure of the San Diego Zoo and the fruit of the region’s vineyards. From the small town of Julian to the metropolis of Los Angeles, the South Coast wine region is home to a diverse population of people and wine alike. With both a rich history and new beginnings in the wine industry, this region embodies the character of the people and the history behind them. Take a closer look at this wine lover’s paradise!
Description: Winegrapes in the Big City
The South Coast wine region includes Los Angeles, Riverside (Temecula), Orange and San Diego counties and is home to eight American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). There are more than 3,000 acres of vineyards in the region, much of which is within the borders of Temecula and the San Pasqual Valley.
History: A Fruitful Debut
Nearly 200 years ago, winemaking made its debut in California in this region at Mission San Juan Capistrano. Mission vineyards were established in 1820, and the first winemakers were the mission padres. Similarly, the town of Julian in San Diego County has deep historical roots. Julian was founded after the Civil War in 1869, when two displaced Confederate veterans from Georgia headed west to seek their fortunes in the gold rush. The gold rush was short-lived, but the pioneers stayed and began farming the rich land by growing grapevines and apples. Now Julian is home to nine wineries and vineyards. In contrast, Temecula- the largest sub-region - has more modern beginnings. The first vineyards in this area were planted in 1966. Over the years, the meaning of "Temecula" has been defined several ways. The most popular translation describes a place ideal for grapevine growth: “Where the sun breaks through the mist.”
Climate: Southern California Sunshine
The micro-climate of the South Coast wine region is perfect for growing winegrapes. Morning mists, sunny days, cool summer nights and ocean breezes produce wines that have fresh fruit character and authentic flavor.
Geography: Living the High and Dry Life
Most of the vineyards in the South Coast region are situated between 1,400 and 1,600 feet above sea level. The soils are created from decomposing granite and are excellent for growing high-quality winegrapes. Grapevines require well-drained soils so that roots are not constantly wet. The granite soils found in this region permit the water to drain easily which contributes to clean, pure flavors in the grapes.
Varietals: Leading Ladies
Traditionally, Chardonnay grapes dominated the acreage here. However, in recent times the climate of the South Coast has fostered a new age of growing hearty Rhone, Italian and Spanish grapes, perfect for red varietals such as bold Syrah, spicy Tempranillo and white varietals such as crisp Pinot Grigio.
American Viticultural Areas
American Viticultural Areas, or AVAs, are delimited grape growing areas distinguishable by geographic climatic and historic features - which are sometimes noted on bottles of California wine. AVA boundaries have been delineated in a petition field and accepted by the U.S. Government.