Los Angeles County
As one of the more unexpected wine regions the Los Angeles County wine region in Southern California is home to a diversity of terrain that leads to a wide variety of wines produced. However, the wines are produced in rather small quantities.
Los Angeles County is the most populous county in the United States, half covered with the dense urban city. The way the city looks now makes it hard to believe that in the late 1800s it was the biggest wine region in California.
Grapes were first planted in LA County as well as much of Southern California in the late 18th century by the Spanish Catholic missionary, Junipero Serra. Even more important than this was the French Settler, Jean Louis Vignes, planting the states first European vines, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, which he brought from his homeland of Bordeaux in 1833.
The wine production occurs highly in the Sierra Pelona Mountains, the Mojave Desert, and the Santa Monica mountains. Three sub AVA’s in this area include the Sierra Pelona Valley, the Leona Valley, and the Antelope Valley of the Califrnia High Desert. These areas have a more continental climate than the rest of LA County being hotter, drier, and more challenging to grow in. The altitude in these areas at 3000 feet above sea level creates diurnal temperature variations that lengthens the ripening period.
Other highly respected, small sub AVAs in LA County are Saddle Rock Malibu and Malibu-Newton Canyon. The high altitude in this area protects the vineyards from the temperature-moderating Pacific Ocean. Warm days and cold nights lead to long growing seasons where grapes are able to develop rich fruit complexity all while retaining acidity.
Although all produce magnificent wines, the most notable vineyard in Los Angeles County is the Moraga Vineyards, which are sitting in the Hollywood Hills above Bel Air, and only 9 miles from the Hollywood sign. Bordeaux Blends are the most noteworthy wines of LA County made of a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
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