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California’s Newest AVA

SLO-COAST-WINE

What’s an AVA and why is it important?

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March 25, 2022 —  Thirty-two wineries that make up The SLO Wine Collective are celebrating the newest American Viticultural Area (AVA) along the San Luis Obispo coast.  The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau awarded the designation March 9, 2022. The AVA establishes a long, narrow strip of land along California’s pristine Central Coast as a unique grape-growing region that produces wine with character that is particular to the area.  Producers are allowed to use either “San Luis Obispo Coast” or “SLO Coast” on their labels.

An AVA designation on a label means that at least 85% of the wine in the bottle is made from grapes from that AVA and therefore reflects the characteristics of that particular area.  In the words of TTB:

            “An American Viticultural Area, or AVA, is a specific type of appellation of origin used on wine labels. An AVA is a delimited grape-growing region with specific geographic or climatic features that distinguish it from the surrounding regions and affect how grapes are grown”.

“Appellation” is a word used extensively in the wine industry worldwide and its use is jealously guarded and monitored by governments in order to protect their wine industries as well as consumers.

The new SLO Coast AVA spans about 60 miles from San Simeon in the north to Nipomo in the south, but is only about 15 miles wide at its widest point. It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Lucia Mountains.  It is a really cold climate due to the Pacific Ocean but it gets plenty of sunlight. Cool temperatures preserve acid in grapes like Pinot Noir while the sun helps with pigment, color and tannin. This is considered the coolest-climate winegrowing region in California and it is much cooler than other vineyard regions even nearby in the same county.  It has long been the source of some of the state’s most respected Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes and has recently won renown for its production of aromatic grape varieties such as Albariño, Grüner Veltliner and Riesling.

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