The Edna Valley AVA is located in the south-western corner of San Luis Obispo County (affectionately nicknamed 'SLO County'), on California's Central Coast. The first vines (Mission) were planted here in the early 1800s, and winemaking remains popular today. The area's naturally varied landscape offers various options for vineyard site selection – one of the reasons why winegrowing has continued here successfully for so long.
ęSLO Wine Country
The AVA runs north-west to south-east for 10 miles (16km) along the Edna Valley, immediately south of San Luis Obispo city. At the heart of this area is the small town of Edna (known today as Old Edna since the town's commercial and industrial interests shifted northwards into to the sprawl of San Luis Obispo).
Thanks to the cooling moist winds which travel up the valley from the coast, the climate here is much cooler than that experienced further inland. Just across the Los Machos hills is Kern County, where temperatures are significantly higher (and rainfall significantly lower), and just beyond that is the High California Desert. Because of these relatively moderate temperatures, the Edna Valley growing season is typically a little longer and more even than in the warmer areas of the Central Coast, and its wines are perceptibly more balanced in terms of sugars and acidity.
Edna Valley has one of the longest growing seasons in California. Grapes hang longer on the vine here, resulting in higher levels of phenolic ripeness and increased varietal character in the finished wines. The region also has a complex array of soils, most of which are well-suited to quality viticulture. Much of the valley was once part of the Pacific Ocean and ancient marine sediments have left a fertile base. The soil is further enriched with dark humus, loam and clay.
The terroir in the valley is well suited to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, both of which are renowned for their ability to produce fine wines in cooler climates. These two Burgundian varieties dominate plantings in Edna Valley vineyards, although Syrah, one of California's up-and-coming varieties, is hot on their heels and producing some very well-received wines. Rich, aromatic Viognier – Syrah's white counterpart from the Rhone Valley – is also doing well.