Hard Ball: The Coastal Defense

A global wine war is looming, and California's central coast has become strategic territory

Nearly 30 years ago, Josh Jensen, fresh from a postcollege stint in the vineyards of Burgundy and eager to make his own wine, bought a Volkswagen camper and spent two years driving around California looking for the perfect place to grow Pinot Noir grapes. He finally found grape pay dirt, but nowhere near the famed Napa Valley. Instead it was 135 miles south, on a limestone-rich mountainside east of Monterey. Jensen planned to plant vines in the Gavilan Mountains at 2,200 ft. above sea level, making his future vineyard among the highest, and the coldest, in California. Around that same time,...

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