This AVA has a range of topography: beginning with a narrow gorge at the foot of the Santa Lucia Mountain range, it stretches out into the Sallinas Valley.  In the canyon, near the mountains, vineyards are shielded from afternoon breezes, so they experience warmer overall temperatures.  Soil in the gorge is also less fertile, meaning the vines’ roots have to dig deeper into the soil for water and nutrients.  Out in the valley, there is no such protection from the wind, so grape vines planted here are tempered in their growth by the cooling drafts.  The soil contains a great number of palm sized river rocks that provide good drainage for the vines as well as retain daytime heat so the grapes do not freeze during the chilly nights. The eastern and central areas produce Riesling and Chardonnay, while Zinfandel, along with any array of French varietals, are grown throughout the canyon.