The Somm Journal

Dec 2015-Jan 2016

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 79 of 124

Revival RIPE FOR { }  79 HOW ARROYO SECO IS GETTING ITS GROOVE BACK CAMP [ ] story and photos by Randy Caparoso What's new school eventually becomes old school, and what's old school often becomes new school once again. Fifty years ago Arroyo Seco represented the cutting-edge of California wine- growing. With the wisdom of viticultural experience in the state dating back to the 1800s, pioneers like the Wente and Mirassou families began staking out sub- stantial acreage along the Arroyo Seco River, in a gale-whipped corner along the west side of Salinas Valley, in 1962. Vintner Jerry Lohr was a true pioneer in Arroyo Seco, planting his first vineyard there in 1971 (see the full story on page 83). The late Karl L. Wente—grandfather of Wente Vineyards' current Senior Vice President of Winemaking, Karl D. Wente—was quoted in Robert Benson's 1977 book Great Winemakers of California as saying that he broke ground in Arroyo Seco in search of a Region I climate to produce a new style of American Chardonnay—"much sharper, higher acid, fruitier, closer to traditional Chablis." Karl L. Wente also famously said, "I think the use of oak is like the use of garlic in cooking. . . we're here to make wine that has the flavor of a grape, not a two- by-four." Wine styles of recent fashion eventually went the opposite direction: the bigger, fatter and oakier, the better. The industry has finally caught up with Wente, only in recent years. Is it any wonder that Arroyo Seco—one of our country's first American Viticultural Areas, approved in 1983—somehow became California's most over - looked cold-climate wine regions? "Nobody knows where it is," Steve Heimoff recently wrote, but "it's a pity because Arroyo Seco really does have that 'place- ness' . . . it has terroir." In preparation for our Arroyo Seco SOMM Camp (October 25–27, 2015), co-sponsored by The SOMM Journal and the Arroyo Seco Winegrowers, I spent a couple of days kicking up the dusty sandy loam and river rock soils with some of the region's major players, and came away with this nicely rounded picture of why this AVA is slowly but surely making its way back to the front of our collective wine consciousness. Griva Vineyard, located between the Arroyo Seco River and the bench- land of the Sierra de Salinas. { SOMM CAMP preview }

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Somm Journal - Dec 2015-Jan 2016