The Hames Valley received its designation as an AVA in 1994 and is situated on 10,240 acres in Monterey County in the foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountain Range.
The valley is located near the confluence of the Salinas and Nacimiento Rivers where Hames Creek enters the Salinas. It is the watershed of the Hames Creek that is the foundation of the viticulture area.
The valley runs east to west allowing for full sunshine. It is protected from the cooling marine breezes coming down the Salinas Valley by its distance from the bay and by a series of hills that allow little of that cool air to reach the vineyards. The Hamesvalley is at a higher elevation than Salinas Valley. This protects the vineyards from the ocean breezes but cools the Hames Valley dramatically when the sun sets, giving the valley the largest diurnal temperature shifts Monterey County. The east-west orientation of the valley protects the vines from wind stress.
The Hames Valley soils in the region are unique as there are far fewer types than is typically found in Monterey County. They are primarily shale and loam of the Lockwood series which are known for being found on alluvial fans and terraces. The shale that helped form this soil are siliceous which helps with drainage and heat retention.
The temperatures in the viticultural area are warmer than the surrounding vineyards due to this heat retention and south facing aspect. The growing degree days range between 3,200 and 3,500 which makes it ideal for Bordeaux and Rhone varietals, though there are Portuguese grapes being grown there too. Look for Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Marsanne, Mourvedre, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, Roussanne, Tannat, Tinta Cao and Touriga Nacional.
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