Edna Valley Wine Region

Posted September 21, 2009

Appellation - Edna Valley

Sub-appellation(s) - None

Location - San Luis Obispo County, California, United States; 35th parallel.

Size - 9,065 hectares (22,400 acres).

Rainfall - 22 in/yr (560 cm/yr)

Growing Degree Days - 2,400

Grape Varieties - Albarino, Chardonnay, Grenache, Gruner Veltliner, Merlot, Mourvedre, Petite Sirah, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Viognier, Zinfandel.

Claim to Fame - Superb Chardonnay and Pinot Noir; has one of California's longest growing seasons due to unique oceanic influence. 

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa
was founded in 1772 and it wasn't long after that it planted the first wine grapes in what would become the Edna Valley. The wines produced here quickly became known as the best among the California missions. Edna Valley's modern wine industry began when Jack and Catherine Niven planted the Paragon Vineyard in 1973 and then established Edna Valley Vineyards in 1981. This paved the way for the establishment of the Edna Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 1982.

 

Edna Valley is bound to the west by the coastal Santa Lucia Mountains, the east by the San Luis Range, the north by Islay Peak, and the south by the Arroyo Grande wine region. The valley's northwest-southwest orientation connects it directly to the Pacific Ocean via Los Osos Valley. This unique geography makes Edna Valley the coolest winegrowing region in California. Cool ocean air flows into valley and promotes slow, even ripening. The valley's soil is a combination of heavily calcareous marine sediment and volcanic soils due to erosion of the surrounding volcanic mountains.

 

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir rule Edna Valley. The Chardonnays produced here are typically less oak influenced than those from Napa Valley or Burgundy, typified by great acid structure combined with stone fruit and tropical flavors such as peach and pineapple. Pinot Noir grown here results in robust wines with great phenolic character and outstanding cherry and raspberry flavors. Vineyards such as Chamisal and Paragon have led to highly acclaimed Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from wineries such as Chamisal Vineyards, Edna Valley Vineyards, and Tolosa.

Elegant Syrah with a fruit forward but strong structure have been regularly produced, particularly by Alban Vineyards. The Niven family has continued leading Edna Valley's wine industry, recently achieving great success with aromatic white wines such as Albarino and Sauvignon Blanc produced under their Tangent brand.