Grapes are so finicky. If the temperature gets too hot, they’ll ripen too quickly to develop a full robust flavor. On the other hand, frost will damage young buds and fruit, or even kill their primary shoots. That’s why wine grapes aren’t grown everywhere. They can’t. A perfect set of conditions must be met for grapes to grow and develop to their full potential. Firestone Winery (#4 on this list) calls it a “goldilocks climate” – not too hot, not too cold.
California’s central coast is one of these perfect growing areas. The mild summers and winters make the growing season long, which means flavorful grapes. Plus, the area’s soil diversity creates optimal growing conditions.
So, move over, France. California wines are a smash hit with critics and wine lovers everywhere – and for the price, they’re unbeatable. Here are 5 in California’s Central Coast to visit and taste.
5 Central Coast Wineries to Visit Soon
1. Sunstone Winery
Sunstone winery, situated deep in the heart of Santa Ynez Valley, credits the area’s mild winters and cool evenings for their intensely flavored grapes. Located just 30 minutes outside Santa Barbara, Sunstone invites guests to enjoy their wine on their Provençal French courtyards or in their stone barrel-aging caves. Either way, Sunstone is voted Santa Ynez’s best winery, according to Yelp, Santa Barbara Independent and more.
2. Tablas Creek Winery
Tablas Creek Winery, named as one of the 4 essential wine tours in Paso Robles by Forbes Magazine, features Rhone-style wines grown in limestone-rich California soil. The founders imported vineyard cuttings from different areas of France to be replanted in their California vineyard. After passing an intense 3 year quarantine, the cuttings were deemed free of disease and ready for planting at Tablas Creek.
The folks at Tablas Creek go the extra mile to ensure their processes are earth friendly and sustainable. Not only are the vineyards certified organic, they are certified biodynamic, thanks to the herds of sheep and alpacas they’ve employed to help build healthy soils. Next, the grapes are hand-harvested and fermented using only native yeast. The result? Visit the tasting room and judge for yourself. Take a tour of the grapevine nursery and organic vineyard.
3. Fess Parker Winery
You may remember Fess Parker for his 1960’s portrayal of Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. But, he had a dream of purchasing a few acres to run cattle, plant a vineyard and maybe run a small winery that he could pass on to his family – and Fess Parker Winery was born. He grew grapes on the vineyard, located in Los Olivos on the Foxen Canyon Ranch. The finicky, thin-skinned grapes flourished in the foggy Sta. Rita Hills climate, ultimately producing wines with a burst of ripe red fruit.
Wine tours and tastings can be reserved, and travelers will enjoy a stay in the Fess Parker Wine Inn & Spa.
4. Firestone Winery
Firestone Winery, Santa Barbara’s first estate winery, is located in near Los Olivos at the foot of the famous Foxen Canyon Wine Trail. Firestone’s vineyards benefit from the surrounding mountain’s east-to-west orientation, which shields the vineyards from harsh conditions and extends the growing season. The rocky loam and well-drained soil create delicious grapes. The winery’s tasting room, enclosed patio and beautiful picnic grounds make it a popular spot to visit.
5. Broadside Winery
The founders of Broadside Winery endeavor to approach each wine as a blank canvas and showcase the vine’s personality. Located in Paso Robles, with sustainably farmed grapes, Broadside highlights the proclivity of Santa Ynez’s climate and soil to grow intensely flavored grapes. You can tour the winery and taste the complexity of the wine.
So, what are you waiting for? Take a trip to the state’s central coast, and enjoy fabulous California wines.