Ranches, equestrian trails, farms, orchards, and vineyards, make the Arroyo Grande Valley into an agricultural haven. Arroyo Grande is Spanish for “wide riverbed” and was home to one of the first Spanish missions in California. Its bountiful terrain fills the 16-mile-long valley with lush vineyards, rolling green hills, diverse wildlife, and placid vistas that can be enjoyed along winding country roads. For viticulturists, the Arroyo Grande Valley’s east-northeast orientation, coastal fog and cool ocean breezes, moderate the climate and extend the growing season, enabling grapes to develop intense varietal character and complex flavors. The variations in temperature create grapes with balanced ripeness and acidity necessary for producing high quality Sparkling Wines, and other varieties of still wines including Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. At higher altitudes near Lake Lopez reservoir, the surrounding mountains shelter and cool vineyards grow Zinfandel, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. The vines of the Arroyo Grande Valley struggle in shallow soil of sedimentary and rocky volcanic soils over a layer of bedrock (the Franciscan Complex) formed over 100 million years ago. This uplifted ancient oceanic and continental crust is laden with calcareous limestone deposits conjoined with volcanic rock and alluvial loam. Consequently, this well-drained soil leads to thirsty vines, producing highly concentrated, flavorful berries. Viticulture history of the Arroyo Grande Valley began in 1880 when the Ditmas Family harvested the first wine grapes in the region. However, the area remained virtually untouched for wine production. It would be almost a century until Arroyo Grande Valley would experience a renaissance when the Greenough family of Saucelito Canyon Vineyard restored the Ditmas Zinfandel vines. By the 1970s, commercial wine was produced from grapes grown at Rancho Saucelito in the upper Arroyo Grande Valley. The 1980s began the production of sparkling wines by Maison Deutz, the California branch of the Champagne House Deutz. Today, the Arroyo Grande Valley appellation continues to attract adventurous new producers, many focusing on limited production. Laetitia Winery continues on the practice of Maison Deutz creating distinctive, sparkling and still wines, while others focus their efforts on varied grapes, including California Burgundians, Rhones, and Zinfandel. Tasting rooms are open regularly with some by appointment.