The Santa Lucia Highlands appellation of Monterey County is drawing increasing interest from wine lovers and vintners who seek out the grapes grown by farmers such as Gary Franscioni. He owns Rosella's Vineyard and is partners with the Pisoni family, of Pisoni Vineyards fame. But it's his 38-acre Sierra Mar Vineyard, which stands at an elevation of 600 to 1,100 feet, that has him the most excited these days.
If you're interested in trying the wines that hail from this land, here are three to get you started:
1. The 2010 Bernardus Sierra Mar Vineyard ($65) is a plump pinot with dark raspberry, a very slight peppery note and firm structure.
2. The 2010 August West Sierra Mar Vineyard ($45), another pinot, is dark and spicy, with a supple texture.
3. The vineyard also shows great promise for syrah with cool-climate characteristics. A good example is the 2010 Novy Family Syrah ($29), which is spicy and meaty, with dark, dense fruit and a hint of lavender.