The Las Palmeras® Vineyards Story
The wines of Las Palmeras® pay homage to the Franciscan Padres, the early pioneers of planting vineyards and crafting wines for their missions throughout the Monterey region. We are proud to honor their vision and legacy by offering Chardonnay , Cabernet Sauvignon and Red Blend produced from sustainably farmed vineyards in Monterey County.
The Spanish merchant explorer Sebastian Vizcaino discovered Monterey Bay while searching for a protected port along the California coast for the Spanish galleons. He named the bay in honor of the Viceroy, the Conde de Monterey. Monterey Bay was highly sought as a sheltered port, but the outpost was not established for another 160 years. Don Gasper de Portola, governor of lower California and Father Junipero Serra headed two expeditions out of San Diego in July 1769 – one by land and one by sea – to occupy the Port of Monterey. The expedition included two soldiers whose families were to become influential and important in Monterey County, Juan Bautista Alvarado and Jose Maria Soberanes. The expedition struggled through the Santa Lucia Mountains and word has it that they did not recognize Monterey Bay as they continued their search, only to discover San Francisco Bay. Retracing their route back to San Diego they were still unable to locate Monterey Bay. Almost one year later on June 3, 1770 the Portola expedition found and took possession of Monterey, and dedicated the Presidio de Monterey and the Mission San Carlos de Borromeo.
The founding of 21 Alta California Missions is epic in history. Four of the 21 California Missions were located in the Old Monterey County. Father Serra dedicated San Carlos Borromeo and San Antonio de Padua. Later Father Lasuan, successor to Father Serra dedicated Nuestra Señora de Soledad and San Juan Bautista. These architectural monuments are historical reminders of the great Franciscan adventure. Enduring years of labor, heroic decades of sacrifice by Father Junipero Serra, his many Franciscan Padres, and the California Indians who supplied the labor underpin the area of the missions and their branches. Most of the missions still stand and are sources of wonder and beauty. The missions were more than a way to save the souls of the native Indians; they supplied many of the needed goods in early California commerce. They also served as a place to teach the Indians reading and writing, tanning, cooking, sewing and agriculture.
In late 1790, Father Lasuan introduced the first grapes, planting near the Mission Nuestra Señora de Soledad with the help of early Spanish settlers and native Indians. They discovered early that the southern Monterey area benefited from a unique climate, rich soil and plentiful rainfall that impacted the different grape varieties. The cool evenings and afternoon heat provided the ideal climate for developing the intense fruit flavor that winemakers covet to this day. Father Lasuan produced wines near his mission and shipped them in large clay containers to the different missions to be used as altar wines and presents for influential and important local leaders. Early plantings spread from Soledad to the north and south and reached close to 40,000 acres. Unfortunately no trace remains today of the vineyards planted by the pioneers of Monterey County.
With only 5 acres planted in 1966, Monterey County's vineyard acreage grew to over 2,000 acres by 1970. The boom continued over the next 40 years and total vineyard plantings stand today at 45,000 acres, making it the largest premium wine grape-growing region in California. New plantings allowed the vineyardists to combine many years of experimentation and the best of proven traditional methods, with modern technological improvements and scientific research. The remarkable grapes which now produce these distinctive wines are the result of three key elements – the land itself, the perfect climate and the blend of traditional and innovative methods used by today's growers and winemaker.
Monterey County has been classified as Region I and II, comparable with premium regions of Napa, Sonoma, Burgundy and Bordeaux. Monterey County has now expanded to eight different growing regions, all of which impart distinct characteristics into the wine. Wines from these vineyards have unique qualities, which make them easily distinguishable from those produced elsewhere in California. Chardonnay is an especially important grape, as it comprises about 40% of all planted acreage. The northern part of the county is heavily planted with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Pinot Blanc, benefiting from the cool afternoon breezes and fog pushing in from the Monterey Bay. In the warmer southern areas you will find Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Zinfandel.
As a wine grape-growing region, Monterey County is known for its long growing season. The fruit is typically harvested from September through the early part of November, giving the grapes additional
hang-time. This additional time on the vine results in wines that exhibit intense fruit flavors, deep color extraction, and full varietal expression.
For more information, visit the Las Palmeras® Vineyards website: