While Napa and Sonoma are certainly the preeminent wine regions of California, at Les Belles Collines we believe that sometimes, to make something special, you have to do things differently. And to us, that includes scouring the state for vineyards in lesserknown appellations that produce topnotch fruit.
Two appellations in particular have produced outstanding Pinot Gris. First is the Clarksburg AVA, inland from Napa and Sonoma and close to the state capitol of Sacramento. Here, despite the fact that Sacramento is inland from the Pacific Ocean and experiences high temperatures, Clarksburg benefits from a marine layer coming off the San Francisco Bay and into the Sacramento River Delta. This marine layer helps keep Clarksburg an average of five degrees Celsius cooler than neighboring Sacramento. This marine layer helps our vineyard produce outstanding Pinot Gris – succulent fruit, but with bright, bracing acidity. So despite the outward appearance of being an inland AVA, it actually shares much in common with its betterknown siblings of Napa and Sonoma.
Another important appellation for the Les Belles Collines Pinot Gris is the Monterey AVA, which encompasses the Salinas Valley as well as part of Carmel Valley. Salinas Valley is one of the country’s most important agricultural areas and is home to much of Monterey AVA’s viticultural activities. The marine layer rolls in from the Monterey Bay into the Salinas Valley, nestled between the Santa Lucia and Gabilan mountain ranges. Daytime temperatures rarely exceed 25 degrees Celsius. The valley receives limited rainfall averaging only 35 centimeters annually, compared to 100 centimeters in the Napa Valley and 75 centimeters in Sonoma. The limited rainfall, in combination with the highdrainage sandy soils, forces vines to work harder for their nutrition.
This stress, along with the cool consistent weather, results in grapes that develop great complexity. One of the world’s longest growing seasons gives the Monterey AVA characterful wines with balanced acidity, and a perfect home for Pinot Gris grapes.