San Benito County is a hidden gemstone in the world of wine. Although it is not vastly known, the area produces unique and award winning wines of exquisite quality.
For a low-profile wine growing area, San Benito has an impressive community of high quality wineries. It sits directly east of Monterey County, opposite to the Gavilan Mountains. San Benito County is home to four highly recognized American Viticultural Areas, or AVAs. The AVAs are Cienega Valley, Paicines, Lime Kiln Valley, and Mt. Harlan. The region also includes two other AVAs, Chalone and Pacheco Pass.
For years, anything involving grape growing and winemaking within San Benito County could be traced directly to Almaden Vineyards. The winery owned most of the acreage, and during peak production periods its acreage exceeded 4,500. As Almaden’s sales slipped in the 80s, San Benito County’s producing acreage diminished. After dropping by half in the 1980s, planted acreage is back up to 3,000 and growing. Now Pessagno’s sister winery Puma Road Vineyards are large growers in the Paicines area, growing around 1,000 acres. New wineries are opening their doors and thriving in the county.
Little by little, local growers and wineries are working together to form a county wine growers association. San Benito is a top quality wine producer, full of luxury and superiority.