San Benito County
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San Benito County is the source for many high profile wineries’ ‘Coastal’ lines, but the county name and its six American Viticultural Areas have been noticeably absent from wine labels for almost two decades. An exception is Josh Jensen’s Calera Wine Company, the county’s leading advocate of ‘terroir’ for close to 30 years. In 1990, Calera received official AVA status for their own Mount Harlan AVA, located in the high elevations of the Gabilan Mountain range. Times are changing and the image of San Benito County as a viable and diverse wine region is gaining momentum. New winery and vineyard developments and the resurrection of old vineyard plots should be credited with this resurgence. This has led to an almost four fold increase in vineyard acreage in the last decade. Once the almost exclusive domain of former industry giant Almaden, San Benito County now boasts a healthy mix of small and large scale wineries and vineyards supplying some of the state’s most prestigious wineries including Beaulieu Vineyards, Pessagno, Williams-Seylem and Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards. Although many of these wineries continue to label these wines under the larger Central Coast appellation, it should not be long before they follow the lead of San Benito County’s resident wineries, identifying and labeling their wines as products of San Benito County or one the region’s distinct AVAs.

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