Right now the Central Coast is demanding headlines. There are many reasons for this, but at the top of the list has to be their successful production of Pinot Noir. While wine snobs may want to dismiss the influence of the movie “Sideways”, they certainly can’t deny the tremendous increase in the demand for Pinot Noir over the past two years as well as the increased number of tourists who are visiting the wineries of Santa Barbara County. “Sideways” brought this up and coming wine region into the spotlight and today more people are trying wines from this region than ever before. Last year more than two million people visited Central Coast wineries, drawn there by the breathtaking beauty of the landscape, the unique wines, and the warm hospitality that is not always present in the two more famous California wine regions.
The Central Coast, which comprises the wine making regions of Santa Barbara County, Edna Valley, Arroyo Grande, Paso Robles, and Monterey, is still in its infancy. It is a viticultural experimentation ground that has producers from all over the US and the World checking it out. The main common factor that the appellations of the Central Coast share is their proximity to the cooling influences of the Pacific Ocean, but each one is unique, both in terms of the grapes and the styles of wines they produce. Today, producers are supplying consumers with a much clearer view of the appellations and the wines they produce. The recent focus on vineyard designations, as well as the grapes Pinot Noir and Syrah has brought the region into the spotlight. For example, today the Santa Rita Hills in Santa Barbara County is now considered among the elite growing grounds for Pinot Noir in the state of California. Edna Valley in San Luis Obispo County is producing a group of beautiful dark Syrahs that are among the best in the world. The Santa Lucia Highlands is producing very unique and elegant Chardonnay, along with several stellar Pinot Noirs. And let’s not forget about Paso Robles where big Cabernets like Justin’s Isosceles are being produced, along with very interesting Syrahs and various other Rhone style wines.