The American Viticultural Area, or AVA, that is Arroyo Seco produces some of the best Sauvignon Blanc anywhere. Here, at Summertime in a Glass, we are proud to highlight this excellent growing region. This is the first of many in a series of regional profiles where we will explore Sauvignon Blanc from a given part of the wine world.
There is much to discover in Arroyo Seco – from their artistry in growing fantastic Sauv Blanc, to their adoption of the Sauvignon Musqué clone as their own, and much more. Check back on this page where you will find updated information on the AVA, unique wine pairings, profiles of the leading producers of the varietal in Arroyo Seco, and much more. We hope you enjoy it!
~ Cheers, Bryan Dias, Executive Director, Summertime in a Glass
On social media? Look for #ArroyoSeco, #SauvBlanc, and @summerinaglass on Twitter, check out #ArroyoSeco, #SauvBlanc, and @summertimeinaglass on Instagram, and more! All of our social media links can be found here…
Check out this informative Regional Tasting Profile of Arroyo Seco Sauvignon Blanc by Summertime in a Glass’ Resident Master Sommelier, Catherine Fallis. She checked out Sauv Blancs from several top producers to put this handy write-up together. It’s a great guide for discovering the terrific Sauv Blancs that come from Arroyo Seco.
Looking for something ideal to pair with a nice bottle of Arroyo Seco Sauvignon Blanc? Take a look at some terrific pairing concepts and recipes by our Resident Chef, Julie Hoskins. She has crafted excellent dishes perfectly paired with some of our favorite Arroyo Seco Sauvignon Blancs…
Summertime in a Glass Advisory Board Member and wine writer, John Compisi, has written an excellent piece on Arroyo Seco Sauvignon Blanc. He talks with leaders in the industry who produce the variety there and gives us some interesting background on the region, its history, and more…
Summertime in a Glass to Launch Arroyo Seco Sauvignon Blanc Campaign
Sauvignon Blanc, produced in many places around the world, is known for its crisp, dry and refreshing flavor profile. Renowned growing regions include France, New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Washington State and, of course, California. One of the rising stars of California’s Sauvignon Blanc regions is Arroyo Seco, located in Monterey County.
“Arroyo Seco is one of those ideal spots for producing world-class, yet unique Sauvignon Blanc. Arroyo Seco growers and vintners have figured out how to do Sauv Blanc right by embracing the Sauvignon Musqué clone which is so well suited to their unique terroir. The Sauvignon Blanc coming from Arroyo Seco is right on the money”, said Bryan Dias, Executive Director, Summertime in a Glass, an organization that promotes and educates on Sauvignon Blanc.
The Arroyo Seco American Viticultural Area (AVA) was granted AVA status in 1983 although they had been growing winegrapes since 1962. The first commercial vineyard, Mission Ranch, was planted by the legendary Mirassou family. Arroyo Seco is located, roughly, between the Monterey County towns of Soledad and Greenfield, west of Highway 101 bordering the Santa Lucia Highlands.
About 40 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the area has a cool climate best suited for those grape varietals that benefit from the cooling afternoon breeze. Arroyo Seco is known for its gravelly soil which absorbs heat during the day and radiates that heat in the evening. This helps keep the grapes from freezing at night and also contributes to the wines’ flavor profile and crisp acidity. These growing conditions do not favor the traditional Sauv Blanc “Clone 1”, known as the “Wente Clone,” but are excellent for the Musqué Clone, “Clone 27.”
About ninety percent (90%) of Sauvignon Blanc grown in California is the Wente Clone. When grown in a colder climate, the Wente clone produces a very herbaceous, asparagus-like, flavor that many find unpleasant. The Musqué clone, on the other hand, is well suited to this cooler climate and the rockier soils.
Rob Baker, Director of Sales & Marketing for Bernardus, is a true Sauv Blanc aficionado. He has made a study of tasting Sauvignon Blanc from all over the world. For him, the Musqué Clone “produces wines with intense, even aggressive, aromatics while offering well balanced and palate pleasing stone fruit flavors like white peach.” Bernardus produces about 10,000 cases of Sauv Blanc annually including about 1,000 cases of single vineyard designated from the Griva Vineyard.
Senior VP of winemaking at J.Lohr, Jeff Meier, believes “the well-drained rocky soil in Arroyo Seco is similar to that found in New Zealand and is perfect for growing outstanding Sauvignon Blanc Musqué. The Arroyo Seco makes Sauv Blanc with a vibrant New World style”. It is interesting to note that the first Arroyo Seco Sauv Blanc produced by J.Lohr was the 8,000 cases they bottled in 2012.
The Musqué Clone can produce higher sugars, revealing tropical fruits, honeydew melon and always exotic floral aromatics. Because of rapid variations in the flavor potentials, vintner Mark Chesebro, harvests at multiple times to “blend the various ‘ripenesses’ to create a multi-dimensional flavor profile.” The 2012 Chesebro Sauv Blanc has intense citrus, tropical fruit and white peach and wonderful aromatics. Mark waxed poetic about the Musqué Clone in Arroyo Seco describing “explosive flavors and mouthfeel”. Chesebro produced 305 cases of the 2012.
AVA President and Arroyo Seco farmer/grape grower, Michael Griva, is excited about the recognition the AVA’s Sauvignon Blanc is receiving. “The members of the AVA represent large, small and in-between sized vintners and growers.” A little research reveals that even the smaller growers and vintners from the AVA have good breeding having honed their skills for years at large, well known houses like J.Lohr, Bernardus, Rosenblum, Kendall Jackson and Wente.
Griva’s family has been farming in Monterey County for over a century. He grafted some of the earliest Musqué clones in Arroyo Seco in 1998 when he planted his first 20 acres of Sauvignon Blanc. In his opinion, “the Musqué Clone is very well-suited to these cooler and rockier soils.”
Another smaller grower with big credentials is Mike Kohne, vintner/owner of Mercy Vineyards. His 2010 Mercy Arroyo Seco Sauv Blanc features Musqué fruit exclusively from Zabala Vineyard. Mike describes the flavor profile as “weighty, with racy aromatics and texture with more tropical fruit and less citrusy notes. In a word, “Exotic!” Mercy produces about 600 cases of Sauv Blanc annually.
With Springtime in full swing and Summertime around the corner perhaps its time to put some Arroyo Seco ‘summertime in your glass’.
~ John Compisi, Wine Writer for Examiner.com and Summertime in a Glass Advisory Board Member
Learn more about some of our favorite Sauvignon Blanc producers connected to California’s Arroyo Seco AVA…
SauvBlancTV Episode 5 – We visit with Michael Griva, Owner/Grower of Griva Vineyards in Arroyo Seco. In this episode, we talk with Michael about his vineyard, its history, and his Sauvignon Blanc program that centers around the Sauvignon Musqué clone…
SauvBlancTV – Episode 6 – In this, our sixth episode of SauvBlancTV, we have an in-depth chat with three great guests about California’s Arroyo Seco region and the fantastic things happening with Sauvignon Blanc there.
This project is made possible, in part, by a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA)
Tags: arroyo seco, central coast, monterey, regional profile