' A Taste of Monterey - Appellations Arroyo Seco

Arroyo Seco

The Arroyo Seco appellation, which literally means “dry riverbed,” begins in a steep, narrow gorge at the foot of the Santa Lucia mountain range. Moving east, the topography widens and eventually opens up to the warm, fertile soil of the Salinas Valley.

Due to this extreme variation in topography, the region has a variety of microclimates and soil types. Deep in the canyon, vineyards are shielded from characteristic afternoon winds and thus experience warmer temperatures. As the canyon opens to the valley floor, the afternoon Pacific Ocean breeze cools the grapes, tempering their growth and intensifying the fruit flavors.

The Arroyo Seco in Monterey County is still a relatively new area, by wine industry standards. With vineyards first planted in 1962, this region was quickly recognized for its distinct climatic and soil conditions and in 1983 was awarded its own AVA.

The soil also varies from the canyon to the valley floor. The valley is composed of palm-sized stones, affectionately termed “Greenfield Potatoes” by the locals. These relatively large river stones provide adequate drainage for the vines’ root systems, as well as retain warmth captured from the sun to prevent the vines from freezing during frigid nights. In contrast, the soil found in the canyon is less fertile, forcing the roots of the vines to dig deeper for water and nutrients.

This dramatic variation in terrain and weather within the Arroyo Seco AVA is reflected in the varietals planted: the eastern and central areas grow Chardonnay and Riesling, while Zinfandel, along with Bordeaux and Rhone varietals, are grown in the warmer canyon along the western end of the region.

Name of AVA: Arroyo Seco
AVA Approval: 1983
Acres Planted: 7,000
Climate: Moderate, partially sheltered from breezes.
Dominant Soils: Garey Sandy Loam, Oceano Loamy Sand, Lockwood Shaly Loam
Min/Max Elevations: 266ft/1,670ft

AVA Map | Monterey | Arroyo Seco | Carmel Valley | Chalone | Hames Valley
San Antonio Valley | San Bernabe | San Lucas | Santa Lucia Highlands