Triassic Vineyards in Tehachapi. COURTESY PHOTO
Although Californians may still think of areas such as Paso Robles as the best option for wining and dining, a similar experience can be found just up the hill in Tehachapi where vineyards are continuing to develop and the wines are winning awards. With the region’s warm days, cool nights and consistent winds, growers have finally put Tehachapi on the map by making it a designated wine grape-growing region.
After years of hard work, Tehachapi Mountains received accreditation for its wines.
In November 2020, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, announced that local vintners can now label their bottles of wine as the Tehachapi Mountains American Viticultural Area.
Established by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, this action will allow Tehachapi wines to compete with other well-known AVAs in the state such as Napa, Sonoma and Paso Robles. There are currently 251 AVAs in the United States, including 140 in California.
Jim Arnold, Triassic Vineyards’ owner and president of Tehachapi Wine Growers Commission, was instrumental in the Tehachapi Mountains receiving its AVA accreditation.
“I am excited that the Tehachapi Mountains American Viticultural Area has been approved. This means a lot for the Tehachapi wine growers, the greater Tehachapi area and Kern County. In addition to being known as ‘The Land of Four Seasons,’ Tehachapi will become known as an exceptional wine-growing region tucked away in the Tehachapi Mountains,” said Arnold.
Arnold said that if it wasn’t for the efforts of Bob and Patty Souza and Chuck McCollough, Tehachapi’s original wine growers, the recent accreditation could not have been possible.
In addition, Arnold gave Julie Bell major kudos as the AVA petition author.
According to Julie Bell, the establishment of the Tehachapi Mountains AVA will give Tehachapi area winegrowers the ability to develop and market their wine based on the reputation of the Tehachapi area for producing high-quality wine grapes.
“The high altitude, yet warm conditions truly make the Tehachapi area unique, providing winegrowers a setting to grow and fully ripen quality wine grapes, which require both warm, sunny days and cool nights to develop the subtle flavors necessary to make outstanding wines,” Bell said in the news release.
The Tehachapi Mountains AVA will encompass approximately 58,000 acres of some of the highest elevations in the country.