Santa Lucia Highlands AVA Receives Boundary Re-Alignment Approval

The windswept Santa Lucia Highlands American Viticultural Area in Monterey County, known for some of California’s most coveted Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards, will shrink slightly after the region received federal approval on minor adjustments to its boundaries.

The boundary modifications, effective September 24, remove approximately 376 unplanted acres along the Salinas River flood plain from the Santa Lucia Highlands viticultural area in the region’s northern boundary and adds 148 acres, a portion of the 424-acre Kitewinder Vineyard owned by Jackson Family Wines, from the Arroyo Seco AVA into the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA. In total, 228 acres will be removed from the Santa Lucia Highlands.

The Santa Lucia Highlands Wine Artisans (SLHWA), a non-profit organization made up of the region’s growers and member vintners from across California making wine from the region, commissioned a study to re-evaluate and confirm the region’s boundaries in 2013. Patrick Shabram, a leading expert on geographic studies related to AVAs, completed the study and a petition for boundary adjustments was accepted by the Alcohol, Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) in August 2017.

“The study confirmed that we had the science and borders largely right 30 years ago when we established the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA,” said Morgan Winery Founder Dan Lee, head of the organization’s border committee.  “We are a very well-defined cool-climate growing region characterized by alluvial terraces above the Salinas Valley, and the combination of well-drained granitic soils and natural air conditioning provided by winds from the nearby Monterey Bay,”

The Santa Lucia Highlands AVA was established in 1991, with the formal approval issued by the Federal Registry May 15, 1992. The small AVA is roughly 18 miles long and 1-2 miles wide defined by alluvial terraces perched 100-200 feet above the Salinas valley river flood plain at the base of the Santa Lucia Mountains Sierra de Salinas range in the Monterey County and Central Coast American Viticulture Areas. The Santa Lucia Highlands Wine Artisans organization of growers and vintners was established in 2008. Learn more at

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