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The Santa Lucia Highlands were planted with grapes by Franciscan missionaries in the 1790s, but not approved as an AVA until 1991. Most vineyards are located on a narrow strip of east-facing geological benches overlooking the Salinas River Valley. The deep sandy-loam soils (mostly Chualar Series) contain concentrations of calcium that limit vine growth and berry size to enhance wine depth.

The prevailing Mediterranean climate (Region I) is marked by warm, clear days that receive daily whippings of cold air and frequent fog. Chilled air above the deep frigid waters of Monterey Bay moves inland each afternoon through the mouth of the river to begin an overnight cooling that persists until morning. Vines as well as grape growers relish the long, mild growing seasons and cool overnight temperatures.


  • 2014 E16 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir "Upper Bench", 90 Points, Wine Enthusiast 
  • 2013 E16 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir "Upper Bench", 93 Points, PinotFile 
  • 2012 E16 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir "Upper Bench", 92 Points, Anthony Dias Blue 

The entrance to Escolle Vineyard lies at 200 feet of elevation, but the property climbs another 300 feet into the highlands. Overlooking the town of Gonzales, it was planted in 2008 using 11 pinot clones on five different rootstocks. Fruit was picked from the gently sloping upper bench where the union of climate, soils and Pommard clone produces small crops that translate to complex wines.

Vineyard Details:
OwnersCNH Partners
SoilArroyo Seco Gravelly Sandy Loam
ExposureEast Facing
Rootstock6' x 8'
Year Planted2008