Monterey AVA is in Monterey County, south of San Francisco. The long, narrow appellation is a 100-mile ribbon of land that extends from north Monterey County south to the edge of Paso Robles. Most of the AVA is considerably inland from the Pacific Coast, and to the east of the Santa Lucia mountain range. About 40,000 vineyard acres are inside the AVA, making it one of California’s larger appellations. Monterey County, in fact, produces almost as much wine as Napa County because the floor of the valley is taken up by large industrial vineyards producing grapes for bulk wine. However, there are also many premier wine estates within Monterey AVA and its numerous sub-appellations. Monterey AVA includes four recognized micro climates, ranging from a cool, maritime climate at the north end to what is known in California as a Region 4 climate in the south, meaning relatively hot and dry. Monterey AVA includes parts of Carmel Valley and Salinas Valley. More than 50% of the grapes grown in the Monterey AVA are Chardonnay, though the many terroirs and micro climates mean that numerous grapes grow well. Merlot, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Zinfandel and Pinot Blanc are widely planted.
The Merlot grape is such a deep blue that it is named for the blackbird. It’s an early ripening grape and one of the primary varietals used In Bordeaux. Merlot is also grown in the "International style," which is harvested later to bring out more tannins and body.