Chalone received its designation as an AVA in 1982. Sitting on 8,640 acres, the region is located in the Gabilian Mountains situated in both Monterey and San Benito counties. Unlike many proposed viticultural areas, Chalone had a protracted fight over the name of the region. Initially, the region was to be called Pinnacles, a reference to the Pinnacles Nation Park that is nearby. However, as there were copyright issues with that name, the government and interested parties tried to settle on a more acceptable name. Gavilan and Chalone were also vetted. It was determined that Gavilan (in reference to the nearby Gabilan Range and was also problematic as it is a word used throughout California and the southwest United States as well as a trademark for a brand of tequila. Gavilan or Gabilan both translate as sparrow hawk. Eventually the name Chalone was agreed to as at some point in history the Pinnacles were referred to as Chalone.
The wine region is located on a bench in the Gabilan Range abutting the Pinnacles National Park. The viticultural area drains into canyons on the outer edge of the region and has an elevation of 1400-2000 feet above sea level. Chalone features limestone and decomposed granite soil. With sunny days and cool evenings, the region has a large diurnal temperature swing allowing the grapes a longer time to ripen and balance their acidity. Chalone is known for its distinctive mineral flavor that it imparts on its vines. With only 300 acres under vine, the majority of the production is Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
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