The Sun Rises in the East at the Mayacamas Mountains and stretches across the land westwards to the Pacific Coast, vineyards dotting the landscape along the way.
Sonoma County wine bottles are said to be something special, and not just by the folks who live there.
Shipped worldwide and judged across the globe in competitions as some of the finest wines displayed…
Sonoma wines are one of a kind.
What IS IT that makes Sonoma wine taste soo good?!
With 60,000 acres of vineyards and more than 400 wineries… that is SOME terroir.
The county lies in the North along the coastal ranges of California. Its ranges include the Mayacamas and the Sonoma Mountains. Sonoma County includes the City of Sonoma and the Sonoma Valley, in which the City of Sonoma is located.
Like any well behaved coastal range, the county has a great degree of climate variation and numerous, often very differing, micro-climates. Grapes love that!!
The eastward flowing weather patterns slowly spread inland from the western coast and the presence and elevation of hills or mountains to the east and west stop the flow and “trap” the moisture. These influences help to make the terroir in Sonoma County so unique.
The prevailing weather systems and winds that continue to come out of the Pacific Ocean, create a fog and humidity that lingers. There is a full-bodied diversity of vineyards where the northern areas are “hot” and the southern landscapes are “cool.”
What does this MEAN when drinking a Sonoma County wine?
Wine grape varietals can find much success while using premium grape methods and sustainable practices in Sonoma County regions due to the perfect climatic conditions for growing.
Grape varietals, like the cool weather loving Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, to the warmer weather Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, are happy here. Due to the range of the Sonoma area and each indvidual AVA within, wineries can produce remarkably different styles of wine.
This diversity means that within the county of Sonoma, there is a wine for every individual’s palate. The area also grows more Pinot Noir than any other county in the state of California.
One would also find that it is easy to find Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with still significant amounts of Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel being grown as well.
From valleys coated in fog to sun-drenched hills and mountains , the county is a diverse landscape for grape growing. A bottle of wine sold on the market always lists the geographical origin where the grapes were grown. Make sure your next bottle says “Sonoma County”.
Sonoma County produces almost 2x as much wine as Napa
In Sonoma County, you will find 17 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs, or appellations) – each with its own distinctive characteristics.
Sonoma County Appellations (AVA)
- Alexander Valley
15,000 vineyard acres / 42 wineries / AVA status in 1984
- Bennett Valley
650 vineyard acres / 4 wineries / AVA status in 2003
- Carneros – Sonoma
8,000 vineyard acres / 22 wineries / AVA status in 1983
- Chalk Hill
1,400 vineyard acres / 4 wineries / AVA status in 1983 w/revision in 1988
- Dry Creek Valley
10,000 vineyard acres / 50 wineries / AVA status in 1983
- Fort Ross – Seaview
506 acres / Established AVA in 2012
- Fountaingrove District
500 vineyard acres / 5 wineries / AVA status in 2015
- Green Valley of Russian River Valley
3,600 vineyard acres / 10 wineries / AVA status in 1983
- Knights Valley
2,000 vineyard acres / 2 wineries / AVA status in 1983
- Moon Mountain
1,500 vineyard acres / AVA status in 2013
- Northern Sonoma
329,000 acres / AVA established in 1990
- Pine Mountain – Cloverdale Peak
230 vineyard acres / AVA status in 2011
150 vineyard acres / AVA in 2002
- Russian River Valley
15,000 vineyard acres / 70 wineries / AVA status in 1983
- Sonoma Coast
2,000 vineyard acres / 7 wineries / AVA status in 1987
- Sonoma Mountain
800 vineyard acres / 3 wineries / AVA status in 1985
- Sonoma Valley
14,000 vineyard acres / 55 wineries / AVA status in 1981 (amended in ’85 & ’87)
Along with wine, Sonoma County is a tourist destination due to it’s 60 miles of pristine Pacific coastline and many other natural wonders. Don’t forget the amazing food, local attractions and historic landmarks while you are visiting!!
A Brief Wine History of Sonoma:
- 1812 – Russian Colonists planted grapes at Fort Ross
- 1855 – The Hungarian Count Agoston Haraszthy founded Buena Vista winery in Sonoma Valley
- 1873 – Worldwide outbreak of phylloxera destroys vineyards
- 1920 – There were 256 wineries. With more than 22,000 acres in production
- 1933 – By time Prohibition is repealed, only 160 of CA 700 wineries remained. Less than 50 in Sonoma County
- Early 1970s – A second generation of wineries are started, following a nationwide wine boom. Consumption grows at a 40% rate
- 1999 – There are over 49,000 acres (19,800 ha) of vineyards owned by more than 750 growers and 180 bonded wineries in Sonoma County.