Mind your Latitude: 32° North

We’ve looked at wine through the lens of grapes, places, soils, barrels, bottles, and stems…and for the next few weeks we’re taking a look at latitude. Today, we present:  32 degrees North!

Doukkala, Morocco: The Doukkala wine region, located just inland of the city of Safi, is the southernmost Appellation d’Origine Garantie (AOG) wine region in Morocco. The area inhabits a fertile plain located between the foothills of the Atlas Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. This is a rugged, agricultural area that is home to sheep farming, wheat, and sugar beet crops. Castel, a large French wine company, produces one of France’s leading foreign wine brands—Castel Boulaouane—in the Doukkala region. Red wines and rosé (often using the label term vin gris) are the main wine styles produced; leading grapes include Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. 

Madaba, Jordan: The country of Jordan, named for the Jordan River (which forms part of the border between Jordan and Israel), has a long history of viticulture and wine production. However, the modern history of wine production in Jordan began relatively recently—in the 1950s—when Bulos and George Zumot established the Saint George winery. They planted their first vineyards in the area around the town of Madaba, home to the ancient Church of Saint George, from which the winery took its name. Saint George Winery produces a wide range of wines (red, white, and rosé) from a number of grapes varieties, as well as Arak Al-Zumot—an anise-flavored distilled spirit made using a base of grape brandy. 

Mimbres Valley AVA: The Mimbres Valley AVA, located in southwestern New Mexico, is named for the Mimbres River which once-upon-a-time cut a pass through the mountains of this rugged area. Situated about 35 miles from the border with Mexico, most of the vineyards here are planted at elevations between 4,000 feet (1,220 m) and 6,000 feet (1,830 m) above sea level. The AVA stretches between the towns of Deming and Silver Spring and is home to St. Clair Winery—one of the largest wineries in New Mexico. St. Clair is owned and operated by the family of Hervé Lescombes; the family has deep roots in the wine industries of Algeria and France and has been making wine in New Mexico since 1981.  Leading grape varieties of the Mimbres Valley AVA include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. 

Miyazaki Prefecture: Japan’s Miyazaki Prefecture is located near the southern tip of Japan on the island of Kyushu. Kyushu has long been considered the epicenter of Japan’s Shōchū industry, and indeed—plenty of Shōchū is distilled in Miyazaki. However, the area is also home to several wineries, including the Tsuno Winery—located on a hill overlooking the sea just a few miles from the city of Miyazaki. Tsuno Winery is a popular spot for tours and tastings, and produces a wide range of wines from red to pink, white, sparkling, and sweet. Many vinifera grapes are used, as are a range of Vitis labrusca grapes and hybrids such as Campbell Early (a red grape developed in the United States) and Muscat-Bailey-A. Some of the grapes used by the winery are grown on the slopes of Mount Osuzu located a mere 10 miles (16 km) inland from the winery.

Pelham, Georgia: Pelham, Georgia—located about 200 miles south of Atlanta—is quite a ways away either of Georgia’s two AVAs (the Upper Hiwassee Highlands AVA—shared with North Carolina, and the Dahlonega Plateau AVA). However, Pelham—along with the rest of southern Georgia—is home to quite a few vineyards, wineries, and tasting rooms.  The Farmer’s Daughter Vineyards, located in Pelham, is a third-generation family farm and winery. Using estate-grown, hybrid grapes, the winery produces a range of off-dry wines with fantastical names such as “bombshell,” hell-raiser,” and “daredevil.” The winery has a tasting room in Thomasville (about 20 miles away) that offers wine tastings, nibbles, beer, wine cocktails, and live music—and is open 7 days a week. 

Ramona Valley AVA:  The Ramona Valley AVA, a sub-appellation of southern California’s South Coast AVA, is located about 28 miles (45 km) northeast of the city of San Diego. Centered around the city of Ramona, it’s a large AVA—about 14.5 miles long and 9.5 miles wide—located between the Pacific Ocean and the Colorado Dessert (about 25 miles/40 km away from each). The area consists mostly of rolling hills, and sits at an average elevation of 1,400 feet/427 m above sea level. The climate is typically Mediterranean with hot, dry summers and mild winters—moderated by the cooling effects of the sea breeze (exactly what southern California is known for). The Ramona Valley AVA is home to over 100 acres (40 ha) of vines and more than 20 commercial wineries. Leading grape varieties include Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Shomron, Israel: Israel’s Shomron wine region—also known as Samaria—is located on the Mediterranean Coast, just a few miles south of the city of Haifa. The region extends about six miles to the east and includes the Sharon Plain (near the coast), the Shomron Hills, and a portion of the Mount Carmel Mountain Range. The Mount Carmel Range slopes gradually towards the southwest from a high ridge topping out at 1,791 feet/546 meters in height. Most of the established commercial vineyards are planted at low elevations near the coastal plain, but new vineyards are being planted in the foothills and mountains. One of the leading wineries of Israel, Carmel Winery, was founded here by Baron Edmond de Rothschild in 1882.

Willcox AVA: Located in southeastern Arizona, the Willcox AVA was approved on September 12, 2016. The AVA covers over 526,000 acres of a broad, shallow, and mostly flat area surrounded (on all sides) by mountains. Despite the AVA’s large outline, only about 500 acres (202 ha) are currently planted to vines. However, the area contains close to 20 wineries and a plethora of commercial vineyards. The climate of southeastern Arizona is warm and arid, and as such it makes sense that a good deal of the grapes planted in the Willcox AVA are Mediterranean varieties including Tempranillo, Viognier, and Mourvèdre. The state of Arizona currently has one other AVA, the Sonoita AVA—located just one county over and about a one-hour drive from the vineyards of the Willcox AVA.

References/for more information:

The Bubbly Professor is “Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas… missjane@prodigy.net

Click here for more information on our “Mind your Latitude” series


About bubblyprof
Wine Writer and Educator...a 20-year journey from Bristol Hotels to Le Cordon Bleu Schools and the Society of Wine Educators

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