Monterey County, California []

Two lanes of paved road wind through the valleys near Monterey, agriculture and activity on every side, lettuces and vines. In late fall, harvest is still afoot, and laborers roam up and down the rows, picking and pruning, from early morning hours ’til late in the day. Sorting and processing whirs above the silence, and if you’re lucky, there’ll be an afternoon pour at lunch. The harmony of planting, growing, harvesting. Regrowth, renewal, reward.

Amid mountain peaks and Pinnacles National Park, the Monterey County AVAs run the expanse of the valley, kissing Pacific waters where Monterey and Carmel meet, weaving south past Salinas and Soledad. As ancient roots still thrive in the hills, like the nearly 100-year-old Chenin Blanc vines of Chalone Vineyard, the oft-dismissed sibling of wider-known California regions blooms from a longstanding foundation of winemaking, now carving out its own distinct voice. The next generation of winemakers – Scott Caraccioli of Caraccioli Cellars, Russell Joyce of Joyce Vineyards, Ian Brand of Le P’tit Paysan, to name a few – pushing the industry forward through increasingly challenging climate changes and the ever-fickle palate of wine drinkers.

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Published on Daily Blender, November 2018

*Images: Jennifer Matthewson