San Benito County, bordering Monterey County on the east, is home to four American Viticultural Areas, two of which — Paicines and Cienega Valley — were instigated by Almedan, which was once the major, if not only, wine presence in the region. Though Cienega has a vineyard history that goes back to the 1850s, most of the valley’s vines were planted in the late 1990s. Taking advantage of that tradition were Cort, Phyllis and John Blackburn, who purchased an old property in 1989 for their Pietra Santa Winery. The winemaker is Alessio Carli.

Featured today is this knock-out Pietra Santa Pinot Grigio 2009, Cienega Valley, an all stainless steel white wine that scintillates with vim, verve and vivacity. The color is a surprising medium gold, surprising because so many pinot grigios are about as colorless as water. The wine is incredibly clean and fresh and appealing, with attractive aromas of roasted lemon and spiced pear, dried thyme, almond blossom and dusty acacia. In the mouth, vivid acidity and a keen limestone edge keep this pinot grigio crisp and lively; these essential elements are nicely balanced by flavors of pear, peach and tangerine drawn out finely to a finish enlivened by a touch of bracing grapefruit bitterness. Most of the pinot grigio wines that come from northeast Italy cannot boast of this character. Production was 1,285 cases. Alcohol, well, the label says 14.1 and the material I was sent states 13.7, so split the difference and say, um, 13.9. Excellent. About $18, Great Quality for the Price.

A sample for review.