To help understand the story of where a wine originates, wineries tend to use American Viticulture Areas (AVA) on their labeling. In October 2017, Heather Petersen, CEO of Sol de Luz Vineyards, began underwriting the process to designate a new AVA in the De Luz foothills adjacent to Temecula Valley.
The projected De Luz AVA is a 21,652 acre (33.83 mi2) region in Riverside County, embraced by the Santa Rosa Plateau in the north and the Riverside/San Diego county line in the south. Situated between 15 and 22.5 miles from the Southern California coastline, the area is distinguished by low hills, pocket valleys, and southwest oriented canyons. To the east, the Temecula Valley creates a natural boundary due to its lower local elevation and flatter relief.
The mineral-rich soil features combinations of quartz, feldspar, plagioclase, olivine, pyroxene, micas, biotite, talc, muscovite, chlorite, sericite, and graphite — deposits from millennia of landslides from the region’s tectonically active igneous and metamorphic formations. Numerous traverse valleys leading to the proposed De Luz AVA’s western flank channel cooler marine air across the region and into the neighboring Temecula Valley AVA. Average rainfall ranges from 19 inches per year in the west to 14 inches in the east — wetter than Temecula, but within range of other California AVA’s like Paso Robles and Santa Barbara.
American Viticulture Area designations are approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), and can take 5 to 10 years to approve. Until the new AVA receives official recognition, wines produced in the area will continue to label under the South Coast AVA or Southern California Region, appellations covering the largest and one of the most diverse growing regions in the state.