Gold Medal Winner: 2014 Los Angeles International Wine Competition
Ventana's 2012 Pinot Noir has an explosion of vibrant wild cherry, raspberry and cranberry flavors with a delicious hint of cedar. Ten months of aging rounds out the flavor complexities with a touch of smokiness and vanilla. The wine is medium bodied with a bright berry red color. The food friendly Pinot Noir is a pleasing accompaniment to almost any entree from almond encrusted salmon to duck in cherry reduction sauce. It is fabulous now or cellar up to eight years.
Great wines are made in the vineyard, and the Ventana Vineyard has the perfect combination of water, soil, climate, art and science to create superb, world-class wines. Ventana is known for its unique planting style and phenomenal Estate wines. This sought after vineyard is owned by a small group of local growers who have lived and worked in the region for generations. It is tended by Steve McIntyre of Monterey Pacific, who has brought innovative sustainable farming practices to the vineyard.
The Ventana Vineyard was planted in 1974. The vineyard was named "Ventana," Spanish for "window," because the vineyard lies up against the Ventana Wilderness in Monterey County, but also because it symbolized a "window to the future" in California viticulture. At the time, there were very few vineyards in the area, but today, Monterey has taken its rightful place beside Napa and Sonoma as one of the great wine regions of California.
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The largest of California's wine growing regions, the Central Coast produces the majority of California's wine. The district sprawls out, covering most of the vineyard land between San Francisco and Santa Barbara. Smaller sub-AVAs of the Central Coast include Monterey Bay, Paso Robles, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains and many others.
Grape varieties range from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. Some Central Coast wine is generic, bulk wine that contributes to the high production numbers of the area. But many winemakers and wineries, particular in some of the smaller AVAs, are small production artisans, creating unique and high-quality wine. The great thing about the Central Coast is its diversity - you're able to find a number of grape varieties and styles at a number of different price points.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.