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Carmel Blog

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Monterey County – A Wine Destination

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Monterey CA Attractions

By Richard Oh

Otter Cove and Oh Wines

The Pinot Grapes of Richard Oh

Beautiful ripe pinot grapes.

Monterey County has grown world class, quality grapes for many decades. The Wine Enthusiast magazine named Monterey County one of the ten best wine travel destinations of 2013.  Here is what Wine Enthusiast editor Steve Heimoff had to say about Monterey County wine country, “it has beautiful scenery, including Big Sur, the 17-Mile Drive and the Pebble Beach golf courses. It has the tourist venues of Cannery Row and Fisherman’s Wharf. It has the upscale galleries and bistros of Carmel-by-the-Sea.”

Many factors have contributed to this; from the fertile soil that drains well to the weather. The 90 mile long Salinas Valley is surrounded by the Gabilan and Santa Lucia Mountain ranges. During the summer there could be 40 degree difference between the northern and southern parts of the valley. Monterey Bay has what is called the Blue Grand Canyon, which was formed 2 million years ago. It is 60 miles long and 2 miles deep. The Blue Grand Canyon has a direct effect on weather pattern, when warm summer days are cooled by the marine layer that is drawn into the valley. This allows the grapes to have a longer hang time and in turn, a more intense and flavorful fruit. More nutrients are absorbed and produces higher quality grape.

There are 42 varietal of grapes that are grown in the county. That really shows you that this region has what it takes to compete in the world. The various micro-climates allow vineyards flexibility for planting such vast varieties. They grow Barbera to Zinfandels in reds and Abarino to Viognier in whites. There are 40,000 acres of vineyard in the county. The two largest grown varietals are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Within the county there are nine American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) which boasts over 175 unique vineyards.

I produce two Pinot Noirs, Chardonnay, Syrah, and an Off dry Riesling under two different labels. All are sourced from the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA. I started Otter Cove in 2004 and brought out a second in 2006 under the Oh label. Oh is an elegant and bold kind of Pinot Noir. Please stop by my tasting room in Carmel next time you’re in town.

If you have comments or questions, please email me: