Cienega Valley Wine

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Rising from the figurative ashes of former wine industry giant Almaden, two new companies have resurrected the winemaking business in the Cienega AVA on the western edge of San Benito County. Almaden was sold to rival winemaker Heublein in 1987 and much of its Cienega assets were dismantled. The ruins of one company became the foundation for two more, as DeRose Vineyards and the Pietra Santa Winery again produce wine in the Valley. Old Almaden plots have been revived -- including the 120-year-old Negrette vineyard -- and new plantings of Italian varietals were introduced. The valley is bisected by the San Andreas Fault, and grapes benefit from the moderate climate in the 1,100-feet plus elevations. Soils on the east side of the fault line are fragmented granite and crumbled sandstone, while on the west side they are mostly granite and limestone. The whole range of soils are suitable for viticulture, and it will be interesting to see how varietal distribution follows the soil variations in the development Read more »

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Varietals Produced in Cienega Valley View all

  • Merlot

    The Occitanian word “merlot” translates to “young blackbird.” An accurate description for this popular, early-budding...

  • Cabernet Sauvignon

    “King of the Red Wine Grapes.” The colonizer of the vineyards, pushing native wine grapes into its shadows. The Caber...

  • Chardonnay

    British wine writer and critic, Jancis Robinson, once noted that throughout the 80’s and 90’s in the United States, C...

  • Sangiovese

    Prounounced “San-joh-vay-say,” this Italian wine varietal is Tuscany’s #1 red wine grape. It’s the pistol of Central ...

  • Zinfandel

    Parentage of the grape: Crljenak to Austria to America. In the 1970s, claims surfaced that the Italian Primitivo is l...

  • Pinot Noir

    “With so voluptuous a perfume, so sweet an edge, they make the blood run hot,” Joel Fleischman, wine columnist at Van...

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