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Ancient Peaks
December 10, 2015 | Vineyard | Ancient Peaks

Hail The "AVA"

You will sometimes hear us throwing around the term “AVA,” particularly now that our estate Margarita Vineyard is part of the new Santa Margarita Ranch AVA.

So what is an AVA? It’s shorthand for “American Viticultural Area,” which is a term for a federally recognized and defined winegrowing area.

By default, an AVA can be mere political boundary such as “California” or “San Luis Obispo County.” But it is more frequently meant to describe a specific geographical area unified by climate, soil and other geographic factors that consistently influence the characteristics of wines grown in that area.

Let’s use the Paso Robles region as an example…

The Paso Robles AVA was established in 1983 to recognize the common characteristics of wines from this region.

Over the ensuing 30 years, the Paso Robles wine industry flourished, and in time certain areas within the Paso Robles AVA began to exhibit their own unique characteristics—much in the way that “Oakville” and “Stag’s Leap District” have become recognized pockets within the Napa Valley AVA.

So the next step was to establish “sub-AVAs” of Paso Robles, to further drill down into the diversity of our region. This was not some whimsical exercise—it was a very involved process born of demonstrable distinctions that were officially recognized by the federal government.

Thus, 11 sub-AVAs of Paso Robles were established last year (pictured above), and one of them is the Santa Margarita Ranch AVA. In fact, our estate Margarita Vineyard is the only vineyard in the Santa Margarita Ranch AVA, which truly sets out wines apart.

So now you know the story of why our wines going forward will include references to both “Paso Robles” and “Santa Margarita Ranch” on the label, to celebrate our unique sense of place.  


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