Spanish Springs Vineyard
"Spanish Springs is a rarity within the sprawling Central Coast AVA because it is closer to the Pacific Ocean than any other vineyard in this appellation, not to mention the Golden State itself."
Spanish Springs Vineyard is the sole source of fruit for the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir made by Oceano Wines. Located nearly at the southern end of the sprawling Central Coast AVA (American Viticultural Area), Spanish Springs is perfectly situated to grow chardonnay and pinot noir–the vineyard also produces a number of other grapes, both white and red–that epitomize balance and elegance. While the Central Coast-designation is among the largest AVAs in all of North America, stretching practically from San Francisco to Santa Barbara, and from the coast to nearly 50 miles inland, Spanish Springs is a rarity within it because it is closer to the Pacific Ocean than any other vineyard in this “coastal” appellation, not to mention the Golden State itself.
Perched on the slopes of Price Canyon, a mere one-and-a-half miles from the ocean, the vineyard is ideally situated so it can be enrobed by the cool marine layer that rolls in reliably each morning from the ocean before the mid-day sun gradually melts it away. The chardonnay and pinot noir berries are allowed to gently warm up. Then, as afternoon turns to evening, cooling Pacific breezes pick up to ensure that the grapes never over ripen to the point where sugar levels translate into high-alcohol wine. A complex mix of sandstone, shale and limestone at the base, with soils reflective of these same sedimentary rocks, results in the lithe, fresh style of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that Oceano is intent on making.
The vineyard, about 10 miles south of San Luis Obispo, was originally conceived as part of a wine-country community of 16 home sites nestled within 300 pristine acres of rolling hills and meadows called The Vineyard Estates at Spanish Springs. The development, abutting Pismo Reserve State Park, offers residents the opportunity to make wine using fruit from its namesake vineyard. But when it became apparent that the quality of the fruit was world class in all respects, winemakers came calling.
Given the surrounding area’s proximity to the ocean (in a nod to Spanish Springs’ primacy of place, the local winery trade group’s website SLO Coast Wine opens to a sweeping view of the ocean from it), it’s no wonder that grape and winegrowers in the area petitioned to have a more local sub-AVA for their area. The San Luis Obispo County designation has been approved by the federal government and has started to appear on labels.
Not surprisingly, given the unspoiled nature of the place, the vineyard is SIP Certified. This Sustainable In Practice designation is arguably more stringent than what is mandated by the USDA’s Organic program (as well as biodynamic practices) because it touches on every aspect of the grape-growing and winemaking process, from planting of vines to the way the finished wine is packaged and shipped. So, while there are about 100,000 acres of planted vineyards in the Central Coast AVA, those rows designated for Oceano Wines’ chardonnay and pinot noir truly are special.