Pietra Santa Sassolino 2008
Part of the larger Central Coast AVA, the valley was historically an important source of grapes for Almaden Vineyards before it was acquired by Constellation Brands in the 1980s. At 1,100 feet, the San Andreas Fault divides the valley so that one side is granite and sandstone, and the other is granite and limestone.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.