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Central Coast Pinot Noir

Learn about Central Coast Pinot Noir wine, common tasting notes, defining characteristics and more ...

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Let’s start with the obvious – Central Coast Pinot Noir is an incredibly broad category. This of course is because the Central Coast appellation is enormous, and it contains several stellar Pinot Noir regions within it, all of them kept cool by elevation or proximity to the ocean (or both). So we’ll break things down a bit with a brief look at each of these: Santa Cruz Mountains, Monterey and the Santa Lucia Highlands, Santa Maria Valley and Sta. Rita Hills. These are not the only Central Coast sources of good Pinot Noir, but they are the major ones. So let’s get started.

In the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation, just west of Silicon Valley, producers craft excellent Pinot in spite of serious challenges. The land is mountainous, rugged and can be foggy, the topsoil is thin and poor and yields tend to be low. Yet Pinots from the likes of David Bruce, Martin Ray, Mount Eden and Thomas Fogarty exhibit undeniable quality, along with bright red fruit, minerality, earth and herbal hints.

Just south lies the large Monterey appellation. Monterey Pinot Noir is grown in coastal areas, taking optimal advantage of the cooling effect of the Pacific. The most highly regarded of these is the Santa Lucia Highlands. Situated on hilly benchlands south of the city of Monterey, this central coast region relies on a long growing season, night and morning fog and consistent afternoon winds to produce world class Pinot Noir. Attributes include intense, rich fruit, subtle earthy notes, spice and a silky texture. Look for producers like Siduri, Kosta Browne, Talbott and Lucienne.

The Santa Maria Valley in northern Santa Barbara County (a section of it falls into southern San Luis Obispo County) is also a haven for quality Pinot Noir. A mere 15 miles from the Pacific, the valley runs east-west, creating a natural tunnel through which ocean breezes and fog flow. This effect lengthens the growing season and promotes both ripeness and development of acidity, lending Santa Maria Valley Pinots their characteristic full flavor, balance and elegance. The famous Bien Nacido Vineyard is located here, and notable producers include Cambria, Foxen, Byron and Au Bon Climat.

Finally, we arrive at the Sta. Rita Hills, also in Santa Barbara County. Located in the western part of the Santa Ynez Valley, it too benefits from an east-west orientation that leads to the same conditions mentioned above. Once again the result is extended hang time for the grapes, which can be tasted in the vibrant, ripe red fruits evident in these Pinots, along with dense coloration and an impression of richness and intensity. Try wines from producers like Ken Brown, Ampelos, Fess Parker and Melville.

As you can see, California’s Central Coast offers a wealth of options for any lover of Pinot Noir. Cheers!

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  • Belle Glos Las Alturas Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019  Front Label
    Belle Glos Las Alturas Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019
    Pinot Noir from Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey, Central Coast, California
    • WE96
    • V93
    • WW91
    4.4 103 Ratings
    Regular price
    Currently Unavailable $49.99
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  • Belle Glos Clark and Telephone Vineyard Pinot Noir 2020  Front Label
    Belle Glos Clark and Telephone Vineyard Pinot Noir 2020
    Pinot Noir from Santa Maria Valley, Central Coast, California
    • WW91
    4.2 5 Ratings
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    Currently Unavailable $49.99
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  • Walt Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2018  Front Label
    Walt Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2018
    Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
    • WW90
    3.9 5 Ratings
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    Currently Unavailable $46.99
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  • El Pino Club Sea Floored Pinot Noir 2018  Front Label
    El Pino Club Sea Floored Pinot Noir 2018
    Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
    • WW95
    • TP94
    • WE93
    4.1 6 Ratings
    Regular price
    Currently Unavailable $59.99
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    59 99
    59 99
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  • Mer Soleil Reserve Pinot Noir 2018  Front Label
    Mer Soleil Reserve Pinot Noir 2018
    Pinot Noir from Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey, Central Coast, California
    • WW90
    3.8 32 Ratings
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    45
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  • Sean Minor 4B Pinot Noir 2019  Front Label
    Sean Minor 4B Pinot Noir 2019
    Pinot Noir from Central Coast, California
    • WW89
    3.2 5 Ratings
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    Currently Unavailable $16.99
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    16 99
    16 99
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  • Eden Rift Estate Pinot Noir 2017  Front Label
    Eden Rift Estate Pinot Noir 2017
    Pinot Noir from Cienega Valley, Central Coast, California
    • WW95
    • WE91
    • RP91
    • JD90
    4.6 36 Ratings
    Regular price
    Currently Unavailable $51.99
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  • Calera Central Coast Pinot Noir 2018  Front Label
    Calera Central Coast Pinot Noir 2018
    Pinot Noir from Central Coast, California
    • WE92
    • WW90
    4.1 22 Ratings
    Regular price
    Currently Unavailable $29.99
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    29 99
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  • Charles Woodson's Intercept Pinot Noir 2018  Front Label
    Charles Woodson's Intercept Pinot Noir 2018
    Pinot Noir from Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey, Central Coast, California
    • WW89
    4.0 36 Ratings
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    Currently Unavailable $23.99
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    23 99
    23 99
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  • Eden Rift Valliant Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018  Front Label
    Eden Rift Valliant Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018
    Pinot Noir from Central Coast, California
    • WE92
    • WW91
    • JD90
    4.2 32 Ratings
    Regular price
    Currently Unavailable $29.99
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    29 99
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  • Boen Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2018  Front Label
    Boen Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2018
    Pinot Noir from Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey, Central Coast, California
    • WW89
    0.0 0 Ratings
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    Currently Unavailable $39.99
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    39 99
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  • Domaine Della Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2018  Front Label
    Domaine Della Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2018
    Pinot Noir from Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey, Central Coast, California
    • JD93
    • WE93
    • JS93
    • WW90
    0.0 0 Ratings
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    Currently Unavailable $57.99
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    65
    57 99
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  • J. Lohr Fog's Reach Pinot Noir 2018  Front Label
    J. Lohr Fog's Reach Pinot Noir 2018
    Pinot Noir from Arroyo Seco, Monterey, Central Coast, California
    • SJ93
    • V91
    • WW91
    4.3 11 Ratings
    Regular price
    Currently Unavailable $36.99
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    36 99
    36 99
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  • Fess Parker Ashley's Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018  Front Label
    Fess Parker Ashley's Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018
    Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
    • JD93
    • V93
    • WW91
    • WE91
    3.8 5 Ratings
    Regular price
    Currently Unavailable $49.99
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    49 99
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