California Wine Regions: The South Coast

California’s South Coast

While Southern California hasn’t typically been recognized for its vineyards and wineries, the area has raised its profile with wine connoisseurs in recent years. The South Coast wine region stretches from San Diego County and the border of Mexico on the south to Ventura County in the north. Today, every single county in Southern California has vineyards and wineries to check out. Visitors to the South Coast should keep in mind that the wine grape varietals that grow in cooler areas on the coast are often quite different than those grown in warm inland valleys – so be sure to try wineries across the region!

South Coast Wine

The South Coast AVA includes grape-growing areas in five counties: Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San Diego, Riverside, and Orange. While there are microclimates throughout these counties that depend on your exact elevation, generally the South Coast boasts warm weather cooled down by coastal breezes. This is the perfect climate for Chardonnay, the grape of choice in Southern California. Zinfandel also thrives in the area, and some very old Zinfandel vines are still being used. You can also find high-quality Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon produced in the region. Winemakers in the area are also experimenting with Rhone and Iberian grapes like other areas of California.

South Coast Weather

The South Coast wine region in further south than the wine regions in Europe, and in fact is closer in latitude to wine-producing regions in North Africa. While there are some vineyards in the warmer, inland valleys in the region, most vineyards in the South Coast are closer to the coast. The cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean helps to ensure that the grapes do not dry out.

While most vineyards in the region are to the west of the Sierra Pelona Mountains, closer to the Pacific Ocean, there are some notable exceptions. Vineyards in this hot, dry part of California need something to lower the temperature. While the breeze from the Pacific Ocean does this for most vineyards, some use high elevation to lower the temperature instead.

South Coast Soil

This region has incredible variety in soil types. If you’re considering starting a vineyard in the South Coast, keep in mind that the exact soil type you’re working with will inform which grape varietals will grow well. More mountainous areas in the region have either rocky shale soils or soils with a lot of granite. Areas at lower elevations have sandier soils. Consult a local expert about the types of grapes that will grow best at your location. Luckily, though, all of the soil types in the South Coast have excellent drainage, which is essential for vineyards.