What is there to know about Monterey County? First of all, it is in California… always a good starting point for a discussion of wine. When we drill down in the locale, we discover the beauty of Big Sur’s rugged shore; the beaches and artists in Carmel by the Sea; tide pools, and golf at Pebble Beach; and the rugged marine history of Cannery Row and Monterey Bay. Monterey County, specifically Monterey County wines, has long been a tourist destination attracting 4.6 million visitors annually, generating $2.8 billion in spending which supports 25,220 jobs.
What sometimes gets overlooked in the macro-view of the County is that a combination of heat from the sun, ancient terroir and a mélange of traditional and innovative techniques used by growers and winemakers, makes the region a perfect area for producing world-class wines and the industry in Monterey County is valued at $1 billion each year. The Santa Lucia Highlands region and producers are making some of the best wines in California with more than 359 vineyards and 82 bonded wineries (an increase of 46 percent since 2012). There are more vineyards planted in Monterey than Napa (45,990), and Paso Robles (26,000 acres).
The Monterey County wines story begins with the Franciscan friars from the Spanish mission of Soledad who planted wine grapes over 200 years ago. Sadly, these grapes died but the idea of a wine industry remained strong, and today over 40,000 acres of soil are growing grapes for wine.
The re-awakening is fairly new and started in the early 1960s when Professor A.J. Winkler, a vinicultural authority from the University of California at Davis, published a report classifying grape growing districts by climate. Monterey County was designated as Region I and II, comparable with the premium regions of Napa, Sonoma, Burgundy and Bordeaux. Recognizing the enormous potential of this research, Wente, Mirassou, Paul Masson, J. Lohr and Chalone started vineyards planted in sizes that ranged from sixty to several thousand acres, making it one of the largest premium wine grapes growing regions in California. READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT WINES.TRAVEL.