The Cienega Valley was anointed an American Viticultural Area, or AVA, in 1982. In order to receive this distinction, a winegrowing region must demonstrate that it is nationally recognized. Additionally, petitioners must also prove that the historical boundaries of the area are legitimate. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it must be proven that the conditions of elevation, climate and soil, as well as other landscape features, be distinctive and suitable to the growing and production of singular wines.
The Cienega Valley continues to merit this distinction.
Known for its breathtaking and historic contributions to literature---the embodiment of John Steinbeck’s literally muse was the Cienega Valley, the Gavilan Mountains and Monterey County---, this region looms 1,000 feet above sea level. The Cienega Valley is perhaps best recognized for its viticulturally meritorious location; it is situated atop the San Andreas Fault, and is comprised primarily of porous limestone deposits, punctuating a terrain laden with granitic, sandy beds of loam. The calcium evident in the Cienega Valley’s calcareous soils results in wines demonstrating greater acidity, inherent structure, and, when properly grown and made, longevity.
Visitors to the Cienega Valley will also enjoy an abundance of untamed vistas, a temperate climate and an historic mission, within the township of San Juan Bautista, which provides for the curious traveler a living continuum of California’s vivid, yet sometimes, complicated history.