The name Arroyo Seco literally translates as "Dry Creek". However, this appellation in the center of Monterey County's Salinas Valley is an oasis of viticulture. Arroyo Seco is famous for white wines full of tropical fruit and refreshing acidity. This AVA hosts a small but prestigious list of wineries and supplies fruit to many of California’s most prominent producers who appreciate the distinctive character shaped by this AVA's unique terroir. The appellation’s large eastern and central areas are dominated by Chardonnay and Riesling. Grapes grown in this section of the AVA thrive in a mix of gravelly and sandy loam soils, developing complexity in one of California’s longest growing seasons. As the warm midday sun reflects off large stones, known locally as the “Greenfield Pebbles,” a cool afternoon wind pours in from Monterey Bay, refreshing the vines. The AVA’s much smaller western section is a gorge cutting into the Santa Lucia Mountains. This coastal range protects this part of Arroyo Seco from the influence of cool Pacific winds. Zinfandel, along with Bordeaux and Rhone varietals, flourish in this warmer section. Here, on steep terraces overlooking the Arroyo Seco, soils are less fertile, and vines must dive deep to find nourishing water. The results can be spectacular.
Since Thomas Jefferson first tried to cultivate European vinifera in Virginia, the state has been a decided piece of American wine country. Over the years better knowledge, equipment and materials have all contributed to an advancing wine industry, but the more recent decade or two has brought out the real potential that can be found.
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