As various varietals are starting to blossom in some of our AVAʼs (designated wine grape- growing region) and others are on the way. It reminded me of the uniqueness of Sonomaʼs Wine Country. Sonoma is so large, and because it has both coastal and interior wine districts, its climate varies from one wine area to another more than Napaʼs climate does. In fact the varied climate and soils of Sonoma offer more different types of wine than any other wine region in California and Sonoma County wineries are in the most diverse premium wine grape growing region in the United States. Sonoma County has 15 unique regions, and more than 50 grape varieties thrive here. Four hundred fifty small and family owned wineries specializing in a remarkable variety of wines, call Sonoma County home.
When Wine Enthusiast chose Sonoma County as one of the Worldʼs Top 10 Wine Travel destinations this is what they said:
“If a genie was to grant you three wishes and you chose great food, great wine and gorgeous surroundings, youʼd land in Californiaʼs Sonoma County. Sonoma County produces some of the New Worldʼs best cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Rhône-inspired wines, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Sonoma County is a wine wonderland. Itʼs blessed with such diversity in soils and microclimates that can grow nearly every grape variety well, from Aligante, Bouschet to Zinfandel.” Virginie Boone
Soil, Sonoma County has more soil types than France that range from rich and loamy to volcanic and well-drained. They provide the natural chemistry for growing a variety of top wine grapes. Sonoma Countyʼs ancient volcanic activity created rocky soils that stress the vines, resulting in smaller berries with intense flavors. Furthermore in order to produce wines distinctive in personality, soils must be loose enough so that water does not accumulate in the ground, thus retarding clear flavor development in the fruit. The lay of the land must be such that vine leaves are exposed to enough sunlight to create a healthy plant, one capable of maturing its grape crop.
Climate, All great wine regions need bodies of water to moderate climatic swings. Sonoma County has the Russian River and the Pacific Ocean. The long, dry and sunny summer days with cool nights, ocean breezes and fog, produce the ideal conditions for growing wine grapes. Beyond sunlight, we look also for sufficient rainfall or irrigation to promote natural sugar development and to the temperature moderating effects of some body of water–ocean, bay or river–so that flavor-boosting grape acidity is not lost in ripening. Fog? The flow of fog through Sonoma Countyʼs vineyards creates daily temperature swings of 40 degrees or more, ideal for flavor development. Also Maritime fog from Sonoma Countyʼs coast blankets many of our vineyards, preserving acidity and complexity in the wines. Sonoma Countyʼs maritime fog travels to our vineyards through low-lying coastal gateways or the pull of onshore winds. Location, location, location is one of the reasons Winemakers from around the globe come to Sonoma County to create sought after, artisan wines of outstanding character, diversity and flavor.
Sonoma County is a million acres (1,604 square miles) of valley floors, rolling hills and tree-lined mountain sides — each a wonderful place for growing wine grapes of superior quality and character.
Examples of what some of the diversity in soils and microclimates can bring are the vineyard areas of Alexander Valley and Geyserville (in the north) and the Sonoma Mountain area (farther south) can be quite warm and dry, and theyʼre ideal growing regions for Cabernet Sauvignon. While the cooler regions, such as the Russian River Valley, Green Valley, Forestville, and the Sonoma Coast, produce excellent Pinot Noir, Chardonnays, and sparkling wines. Or, temperate areas in Sonoma County grow Zinfandel, Syrah, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Petite Sirah, to touch on a few of the more prominent varieties. Youʼll find in Sonoma County, each growing region and every vineyard is distinctive, with climate, soils and site creating unique characteristics in the wines.
Besides Mother Nature Sonoma County is truly special because of its people. Their spirit is as unique as the place they live…but thatʼs a story in itself and worth finding out on your own.