Santa Clara Valley AVA

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Santa Clara Valley AVA
Wine region
Type American Viticultural Area
Year established 1989[1]
Country United States
Part of California, Central Coast AVA, San Francisco Bay AVA
Sub-regions Pacheco Pass AVA, San Ysidro District AVA
Total area 332,800 acres (134,679 ha)[2]
Size of planted vineyards around 1,500 acres (607 ha)[3]
Grapes produced Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignane, Chardonnay, Fiano, Grenache, Grignolino, Merlot, Muscat Canelli, Petite Sirah, Pinot noir, Riesling, Roussanne, Sangiovese, Semillon, Syrah, Zinfandel[4]
No. of wineries Over 20

The Santa Clara Valley AVA is an American Viticultural Area located in Santa Clara County, California. The area served an important role in the early history of California wine and was home to the pioneer winemakers Paul Masson and Charles Lefranc. The AVA boundary was defined in 1989. It includes the historic winegrowing areas of Santa Clara County which were not already part of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA as well as the area near Mission San José in Alameda County and a small part of San Benito County.

The Santa Clara Valley AVA is home to two smaller AVAs, Pacheco Pass AVA and San Ysidro District AVA.[5]


By the 1850s Santa Clara had more acres of vineyards than any other county in California. By 1883 the county had almost 15,000 acres (6,070 ha) of vines and over 100 wineries, but over-expansion and phylloxera took a heavy toll and by 1902 over 10,000 acres (4,047 ha) disappeared, mostly replanted to fruit trees such as prunes and apricots. By 1910 over half the wineries had disappeared.

Prohibition caused another boom in viticulture, with fruit being much in demand for home winemakers. By 1926 around 11,000 acres (4,452 ha) were planted, but since then there has been a gradual decline. By 1997 a little over 1,100 acres (445 ha) were planted; since then there has been a gradual resurgence.[6]

The growth of the technology sector in the region saw the area christened as Silicon Valley, and older Almaden Valley vineyards were uprooted to make way for urban sprawl. Today the majority of the remaining vineyards are found between the Diablo Mountains in Contra Costa and the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Jose near Morgan Hill and Gilroy, with some in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains near Saratoga. As of August 2014, a collaboration between the cities of Gilroy, Morgan Hill, and Santa Clara County, along with the Wineries of Santa Clara Valley, formed the "Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail" to connect the many wineries and aid in agritourism.[7]


  1. ^ Code of Federal Regulations "§ 9.126 Santa Clara Valley." Title 27: Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; Part 9 — American Viticultural Areas; Subpart C — Approved American Viticultural Areas. Retrieved Jan. 24, 2008.
  2. ^ Wine Institute (2008). "American Viticultural Areas by State". Retrieved Jan. 24, 2008.
  3. ^ USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (2011)
  4. ^ Appellation America (2007). "Santa Clara Valley (AVA): Appellation Description". Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  5. ^ Robinson, Jancis, ed. (2006). The Oxford Companion to Wine (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 608. ISBN 978-0198609902. 
  6. ^ Charles L. Sullivan (1998). A Companion to California Wine: An Encyclopedia of Wine and Winemaking from the Mission Period to the Present. Oakland, CA: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0520213517. 
  7. ^ Michael Moore (August 28, 2014). "Happy Trails: Ribbon cutting kicks off Wine Trail Weekend Aug. 23 and Aug. 24". Morgan Hill Times.