Cienega Valley (AVA)
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Rising from the figurative ashes of former wine industry giant Almaden, two new companies have resurrected the winemaking business in the Cienega AVA on the western edge of San Benito County. Almaden was sold to rival winemaker Heublein in 1987 and much of its Cienega assets were dismantled. The ruins of one company became the foundation for two more, as DeRose Vineyards and the Pietra Santa Winery again produce wine in the Valley. Old Almaden plots have been revived -- including the 120-year-old Negrette vineyard -- and new plantings of Italian varietals were introduced. The valley is bisected by the San Andreas Fault, and grapes benefit from the moderate climate in the 1,100-feet plus elevations. Soils on the east side of the fault line are fragmented granite and crumbled sandstone, while on the west side they are mostly granite and limestone. The whole range of soils are suitable for viticulture, and it will be interesting to see how varietal distribution follows the soil variations in the development of this "old-new" winegrowing region.

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The AppellationAmerica database identifies 22 wines labeled with the Cienega Valley designation.

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