Musqué Clone of Sauvignon Blanc being rejuvenated by the Arroyo Seco AVA
October 3, 2017 (Greenfield, Calif.) – The grape growers and winemakers of the Arroyo Seco AVA, a cool climate growing region in Monterey County, California, have revitalized the once popular Musqué clone of Sauvignon Blanc, a clone which nearly fell into extinction. Today, the Musqué clone is not only surviving but thriving in the Arroyo Seco AVA, where it’s surpassed only by Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in total acreage. Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino have all taken note and are producing varietals from the clonal lines of the Arroyo Seco AVA.
The Arroyo Seco AVA benefits from a distinctive climate: plenty of sunshine and direct exposure to the Pacific Ocean, making it an ideal region for growing cool climate grapes that benefit from long hang times. An alluvial fan, the region’s primary soil composition includes gravel, sandy loam and shale. In addition, many vineyards feature dense pockets of granite cobblestones – rocks that were flushed out of the Santa Lucia Mountains and carried downstream by the Arroyo Seco River hundreds of years ago. The convergence of such geography and geology is rare and shares similarities to France’s Côte de Beaune region, with low yielding vines producing expressive wines with bright acidity, well-developed fruit flavors and distinct earthy characteristics. In the case of Sauvignon Blanc, the wines are expressive examples, bursting with tropical and stone fruits, racy acidity and a welcome absence of herbaceousness.
“There are some excellent Sauvignon Blancs coming out of this region,” shares grower Michael Griva of Griva Vineyard, whose family has farmed on the Central Coast since 1868. “The climate is ideally suited for lifting the fruit character of Sauvignon Blanc, so you don’t see much of that grassy quality commonly found in this varietal. They’re not only good wines, they’re incredibly complex,” Griva added.
The Musqué clone was imported to the area from the Viticoles d’Arboriculture at Pont-de-la-Maye in the Gironde region of France in the early 1960s by University of California at Davis’ Dr. William Hewitt. It was then popularized by Ventana Vineyards’ Doug Meador, who discovered that the Musqué clone did not show excess vegetal character in the cooler climate of Monterey County. While it was once an established variety in the area, the clone eventually fell out of popularity due to the increase of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir plantings. With 420 acres planted, 5% of the Arroyo Seco AVA is now dedicated to the variety. Thanks to the growers and winemakers in the Arroyo Seco, this once popular variety has recaptured its stride.
Qualified media are invited to visit the Arroyo Seco AVA to meet with the vintners and growers and tour the region, or sample a collection of Musqué clone wines from the Arroyo Seco by contacting [email protected]
ABOUT THE ARROYO SECO WINEGROWERS
The Arroyo Seco AVA, one of the smallest in California, is located at the base of the Santa Lucia Mountains in south Monterey County. The area benefits from the Arroyo Seco River, a seasonal waterway that brings rain and snowmelt from the mountains to the Salinas River. Recognized as an AVA in 1983, the eastern and central portions experience cool, coastal influences of dense morning fog and high afternoon winds during the growing season; the western portion is a narrow gorge that is subject to warmer daytime temperatures and a larger swing in diurnal temperatures. The 18,240-acre AVA has gravelly, sandy loam and chualar loam soil with elevations from 171 to 2,031 feet. The region is known for its Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Musqué varietals.