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San Francisco Wine School: Week 5 Central Coast

Beautiful wine country
Beautiful wine country
Kenneth Fish

Napa and Sonoma are famous for wine, and presumably just about anyone reading this knows it as a fact. There is, however, so much more to California wines than these two regions, and that’s what is going on in this week’s San Francisco Wine School California Wine Appellation Specialist (CWAS) adventure. This week we look to the Central Coast to see what is going on down there.

The Central Coast AVA (American Viticultural Area) is pretty darn big, stretching from San Francisco in the north to Santa Barbara in the south, and from Monterey on the coast all the way into the central valley over in Merced county. Though not as famous from a popular culture standpoint, the Central Coast AVA is home to the world famous Ridge Winery that won the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 as well as the rematch in 2006 which helped catapult California wines onto the world stage, and proved not once, but twice, that California is home to some of the best wine in the world.

To see for myself, I indulged in a couple bottles from the region to see what was what, and I came away with a nice idea that the Central Coast is kind of the sleeper region of the California wine world. Instead of concentrating on the Bordeaux varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec) as is the case with Sonoma and even more so with Napa, the Central Coast offers a bit more of a worldly wine perspective. I sampled a Verdelho from Bokisch Vineyards ($15) and a Alpha Red (Lot IV) from Nottingham Cellars ($17). Verdelho, a thick-skinned grape grown throughout Portugal, makes for a crisp white wine with a bit of a funky finish, and in that regard the Bokisch Vineyards Verdelho did not disappoint. The Alpha Red I tried was was a pleasant surprise with lots of dark fruit up front followed by brighter, more acidic notes just behind. If pressed, I would say that this red table wine was a blend of the Bordeaux grapes mentioned above. It just felt and tasted very much like the wine with which I am most accustomed.

If you want to take this or any of the other classes on offer or if you’d like more information about the San Francisco Wine School, click here. Stay tuned for the rest of the CWAS adventures of yours truly.