Highland Valley AVA

Highland Valley AVA

33° 3' 15.851" N


116° 58' 17.008" W




about this subregion

The potential Highland Valley AVA, nestled in the California wine region, offers a unique environment characterized by its distinctive climate and soil composition. This area benefits from a Mediterranean climate, characterized by warm days and cool nights, which are result of the influence of cool air coming from the Ramona Highlands. These conditions are ideal for grape cultivation, allowing for extended ripening periods that are key to produce complex wines.

The soil in Highland Valley is mostly composed of decomposed granite and clay loam. Decomposed granite provides excellent drainage and low fertility, stressing the vines enough to promote the development of deep roots and concentrated flavors in the grapes. Meanwhile, clay loam has better moisture and nutrients retention, supporting the vines during drier conditions and contributing to a balanced growth.

The region is poised to become known for its cultivation of different grapes, such as Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Chardonnay. These varieties thrive under the AVA’s unique environmental conditions, promising to produce distinct and high-quality wines.


vinerra illustration

Vineyard Hectares





Discover Terroir

The potential Highland Valley AVA wine subregion is nestled in a picturesque landscape characterized by its rolling hills, lush valleys, and an optimal ideal climate for grape growing. The region's diverse soils, ranging from gravelly loam to sandy clay, provide a fertile foundation for vineyards that spread through the undulating terrain. This varied topography creates microclimates that allows to produce a wide range of grape varietals, each with its unique aromatic and flavor profile.

Highland Valley is part of a group of potential AVAs, that includes Rancho Guejito, West Sonoma Coast, Pocket Peak, Llano Uplift, Columbia Hills, Kaw Valley, Champlain Valley, Carmel Coast, Hickory Sands District, Rancho Santa Fe, and Mill Creek-Walla Walla Valley. Standing out for its elevation, Highland Valley offers an exceptional terroir that contributes to the distinctive quality of its wines.

With its captivating views and fertile soils, the Highland Valley AVA promises to become an unique addition to California's wine regions, attracting wine enthusiasts seeking for unique and memorable tasting experiences.

The potential Highland Valley AVA has a climate that is very suited to viticulture, and its an ideal area for high-quality wine production. Characterized by a Mediterranean climate, this region enjoys warm, sun-drenched days typical of southern California, coupled with mild, wetter winters that provide necessary irrigation without overwhelming the vines.

One of the features of the Highland Valley's climate is the ample temperature variation between day and night. During the growing season, daytime temperatures are high enough to promote sugar concentration in grapes, which is key for achieving ideal sweetness and alcohol levels in the wines. On the other hand, during the night there is a significant temperature drop, something that helps maintain high levels of natural acidity in the grapes. This balance between sugar and acidity is key for crafting robus and crispy wines.

The area's unique topography further enriches its microclimates. The varied landscape not only adds visual appeal but also plays a key role supporting a great range of grapes.

The potential Highland Valley AVA has two predominant soils: decomposed granite and clay loam. Each of these soils contributes with unique characteristics that are conducive to winemaking.

  1. Decomposed Granite: This soil type is prevalent throughout the Highland Valley AVA. Decomposed granite offers excellent drainage, which is key for healthy vine growth. Its coarse texture and low fertility stress the vines slightly, encouraging them to develop deep root systems. This helps to  obtain grapes that have more concentrated flavors, and contribute to the production of robust and complex wines.
  2. Clay Loam: On the other hand, clay loam has better moisture and nutrients retention. This helps the vines during drier conditions, providing a  less stressful environment compared to purely granitic soils.Grapes grown in clay loam soil tend to produce full bodied wines with a more balanced acidity.


The potential Highland Valley AVA is set to become in the future a notable subregion for wine production, due to its cooler climate that is sutable for grapes like Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Chardonnay.

  1. Merlot: In the Highland Valley, Merlot grapes thrive due to the unique balance of warm days and cooler nights. This temperature fluctuation is key to help the grapes to ripen slowly, allowing for the development of strong tannins and great structure in the wines. Regarding soils, they are well-drained, providing optimal conditions for the vines to grow healthy, contributing to the overall quality of the grapevines.
  2. Pinot Noir: Pinot Noir, a grape that needs very specific growing conditions, thrives in the Highland Valley. The region's cooler average temperatures coupled with an ample temperature variation between day and night are ideal for preserving the grape’s natural acidity and structure. Furthermore, the mornings often bring fog, tempered by marine currents. This mild and moist environment helps protect the grapes’ delicate skins and allows them to have a slow ripening process, key for developing the full potential of Pinot Noir grapes.
  3. Zinfandel: The Highland Valley offers a great diversity of microclimates, many of them providing a perfect setting for Zinfandel grapes. These grapes benefit from the region’s long periods of sunshine that are key to achieve a fuller ripeness.  In addtion, the cooler temperatures of the region during the night help to balance the warm days, helping to maintain the natural acidity of the grapes. This interplay of temperatures is key to fostering the vibrant and robust character of Zinfandel wines, allowing them to develop a well-rounded profile.
  4. Chardonnay: Chardonnay grapes are very adaptable, and flourish under the cooler climatic conditions and marine influences of the Highland Valley. The temperate climate helps to make the growing season longer, allowing to obtain more complex grapes with higher levels of natural acidity. This extended maturation cycle is key to allow Chardonnay grapes to express their character, resulting in more complex and depth wines.

In this promising AVA, each variety finds its niche, benefiting from its unique climatic conditions.

The potential Highland Valley AVA is gaining recognition for its signature wines: Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Chardonnay.

  1. Merlot: Merlot wines from Highland Valley are known for their deep, complex bouquets. They typically show rich aromas that may remind you off delicius dark fruits like black cherry and plum. The cooler climate ensures that these wines have a balanced structure, offering a smooth palate with subtle hints of fresh herbs and a firm tannic backbone, that lends for a refined finish.
  2. Pinot Noir: The Pinot Noir wines from this cool climate region have a sophisticated profile. These wines show delicate aromas of red berries, such as strawberries and raspberries, complemented by a hint of earthiness that may remind you to a forest wood in autumn. The marine fog and significant diurnal temperature variation within the region results in wines with a silky texture and a persistent, elegant finish.
  3. Zinfandel: Highland Valley Zinfandels are robust and flavorful, characterized by a zesty spiciness that complements their ripe, jammy fruit notes of blackberry and raspberry, that sometimes can be similar to a delicious fruity dessert. The coolernoghts of the region allows to obtain Zinfandel wines with a lively acidity, which balances the bold flavors and gives these wines a long and smooth finish.
  4. Chardonnay: Chardonnay wines from this area are complex and very refreshing. The cooler temperatures and the influence of marine breezes gives these wines taste notes that may remind you of fresh green apple or refreshing citric fruits, with subtle sweet undertones of vanilla in aged Chardonnay. The extended growing season allows Chardonnay wines to have more richness in the mouth, while maintaining its signature crisp acidity.