Up until recently California’s Central Coast has suffered from what some would call “an identity crisis”. This was largely because a small number of large producers used the area as a source for a vast quantity of uninspiring, inexpensive wine. It was also a region that large Sonoma and Napa producers used as a grape source for up to 20% of their Chardonnay blends. Another reason that contributed to this apparent lack of identity was that as late as the 1960’s nobody had a clue as to which grapes to plant and where to plant them. Many producers tried several varietals in many different locations, but the end result was mostly nothing special. When knowledgeable wine consumers sought out quality wines from California they looked for wines from Napa or Sonoma. What the heck is the Central Coast anyway? How can a region define itself when it stretches the length of one-third the state of California? How could a region define itself when it originally tried to produce Cabernets and Zinfandels that could never compete with Napa and Sonoma? Today however, thanks to a number of unique and quality producers, as well as a better understanding of this large viticultural area, wines from the Central Coast are starting to define themselves and slowly, but surely finding a niche in the market place.
To be continued…in my next post we’ll explore a few of it’s valleys.