A geographic and climatic paradise for grape vines, Monterey is a part of the greater Central Coast AVA and contains within it five smaller sub-appellations, including Arroyo Seco, San Lucas, San Bernabe, Hames Valley and the famous Santa Lucia Highlands. The climate is relatively warm but tempered by cool, coastal winds, allowing the regions in Monterey County an exceptionally long growing season. Bud break often happens two weeks sooner and harvest tends to be two weeks later compared to other surrounding regions.
Monterey’s coastal side, where the cooling ocean fog allows grapes to develop a perfect sugar-acid balance, excels in the production of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling. Warmer, inland subzones are home to fleshy, concentrated and full-bodied reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zinfandel.
Chardonnay, covering about 40% of vineyard acreage, is the most widely planted grape in all of Monterey County.
Named for its naturally high level of tannins, Tannat is a brooding, rustic, dark red wine that sees its origin in the Madiran region of France. Similar to Malbec’s journey to Argentina from France, Tannat made a similar move in the early 19th century but landed in Uruguay in the hands of Basque settlers. Today Tannat thrives in its warm South American climate, producing a bold, black fruit driven red. Somm Secret—Uruguay producers have the freedom to blend firm Tannat with any other grape whereas Madiran law restricts Tannat’s blending grapes to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and the indigenous grape, Fer.