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The Monterey region is a long valley that stretches 90 miles along Highway 101, from the city of Salinas south to San Luis Obispo County. Cool winds rush down the valley from Monterey Bay, creating chilly conditions at the northern end – ideal for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Gewurztraminer – and warmer sites farther south where Cabernet and Syrah thrive.

Much of the valley floor is home to large-scale winemaking, with some individual vineyards covering thousands of acres. Look for more distinctive selections from the eight smaller AVAs within Monterey County: Arroyo Seco, Carmel Valley, Chalone, Hames Valley, San Antonio Valley, San Bernabe, San Lucas and Santa Lucia Highlands.

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