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San Lucas AVA: American Viticultural Areas Spotlight

Established in 1987, San Lucas AVA is a federally recognized wine-producing region that rests in Monterey Country, California. Geographically speaking, this 33,000-acre stretch of terrain sits at the south end of the Salinas Valley, with the Santa Range foothills on the west, and the Chalone AVA region to the east.

The southern portion of San Lucas AVA is known for its grazing cattle. The fist vineyards were planted here back in the early 1970s, offering its few countryside residents a new source of income. While wine production continued here for nearly two decades, it wasn’t until the 1987 when it was officially declared an AVA region. Adding San Lucas to the AVA index brought more attention to this otherwise small and often times overlooked California countryside.

It’s important to note that San Lucas AVA was amended in 2004 when the Delicato Family Vineyards filed a petition to form their own AVA region. Before this change was made,the San Bernabe vineyard – owned by Delicato Family Vineyards – was the largest in the region (5,000 acres at the time), and they wanted to split from the San Lucas AVA region. The American Viticultural Area (AVA) organizers granted their petition, creating the San Bernabe Vineyard AVA region in the southern portion of Monterey County, California.

San Lucas AVA Characteristics:

San Lucas AVA is warmer than most other wine-producing regions in California. While temperatures vary from year to year, a typical growing season will experience a high of 84.8° F, a low of 48° F, and a medium of 66° F. These warm temperatures have proven highly useful in producing healthy, vibrant wine grapes.

Because San Lucas AVA rests to the east of the Santa Lucia foothills, it’s less affected by the cool Pacific Ocean winds than other regions. Wineries and vineyards are oftentimes forced to battle the fluctuating temperatures and weather conditions of coastal winds, but thankfully this isn’t an issue with San Lucas AVA. The towering Santa Lucia foothills act as a natural barrier to block out winds and fog from the ocean.

Top San Lucas Wineries and Vineyards:

  • Lockwood Vineyards – Owned and operated by partners Paul Toeppen, Phil Johnson and Butch Lindleyn, Lockwood Vineyards is one San Lucas’ top vineyards. It’s located at the base of the Santa Lucia mountains and touts itself as one of the world’s largest fine-wine estate vineyards.
  • Monterey Wine Company – Founded in 2002, the Monterey Wine Company is one of the region’s largest wineries. They are known for their advanced wine producing and bottling technologies.

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