by Fred McMillin
for May 26, 1998

A Central Coast Boast


The California Central Coast, located between San Francisco and Ventura County, is a newly emerging viticultural region. It is a 60-mile wide, 300-mile stretch of marine-ventilated hills and valleys. Over 90% of the vine acreage is less than 30 years old, a reflection of the post-1960 rush to purchase and plant vines on limestone and/or gravel soil in a cool maritime microclimate.

...Prof. John Baxevanis in Wine Regions of America

The Rest of the Story

My panel is very happy about that post-1960 rush. They tasted 18 affordable whites and reds from various regions and the only Central Coast entry won by a wide margin. It was the 1995 Napa Ridge Zinfandel. The grapes came from three counties, Monterey, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. The tasters notes indicate they liked all the fruit flavors AND the oak as well. Winemaker David Schlottman preserved the grape flavors by fermenting/storing part in stainless steel, while the other part spent nine months in French oak.

The Wine

1995 Zinfandel, North Coast
Napa Ridge Winery, Geyserville, CA.
Rating—The best $9 Zinfandel my panel has tasted this year.
Phone—(707) 857-4459


The Central Coast District ultimately will be north of the North Coast District if present trends continue. The North Coast (Sonoma, Napa, etc.) rests on the immobile North American tectonic plate, while the Central Coast is "bumping and grinding north" aboard the Pacific plate...though the pace is slow. One of those infrequent, severe earthquakes might move an area one inch. (Source: Bob Thompson's excellent Wine Atlas of California)

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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