Santa Lucia Highlands AVA is a 12-mile long, narrow strip of an appellation wedged along the eastern hillsides of the Santa Lucia mountain range. Given its proximity to Big Sur and the Gabilan Mountain Range to the northeast, Santa Lucia a cool-climate wine growing district. Morning sun is often followed by maritime winds and fog in the afternoon, a weather pattern that prolongs the growing season and means long, gentle ripening of the grapes. Spanish missionaries planted vineyards in the district in the 18th century, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that modern winemakers planted vineyards and began making high quality wine. The district received AVA status in 1991 and today there are 6,000 vineyard acres in the Santa Lucia Highlands. Pinot Noir is the dominant grape planted, followed by Chardonnay and Riesling.
This red wine is relatively light and can pair with a wide variety of foods. The grape prefers cooler climates and the wine is most often associated with Burgundy, Champagne and the U.S. west coast. Regional differences make it nearly as fickle as it is flexible.