California South Coast Wineries Guide
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 region’s 200 plus wineries 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!
The South Coast American Viticultural Area (AVA) includes grape-growing areas in six counties: San Diego, Riverside, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino. While there are microclimates throughout these counties that depend on your exact elevation and distance from the ocean, 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.
The South Coast wine region is 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.