No matter what store you’re in while on a wine shopping trip, you’ll see Sonoma County, CA wines on the shelf. And each of them says something about a valley or a region. Do you ever stand there and wonder (like I do), “what difference is there between Alexander Valley and the Russian River Valley?” While I’ve always been curious about the differences between these sub-regions within one of California’s biggest wine-making region, I have been too lazy to look up the answer. Until now…
- Located directly north of San Francisco and borders the Pacific Ocean
- Consists of 1 million acres of land (two times bigger than Napa Valley)
- The first vineyards in Sonoma were planted in the early 1800s, initially by Russian fisherman. (Who would have guessed?!?!)
- Made up of 12 “American Viticulture Areas” (AVAs). What’s an AVA, you ask? Well, upon an initial glance, I think we need a whole post just on this topic. But in summary, AVAs are wine regions based on geographical/climate differences.
Sonoma’s American Viticulture Areas (AVAs): So let’s talk about these AVAs. Because Sonoma is so big, it has quite the landscape variety – mountains, valleys, rivers, plains, etc. And all of these climate differences change the way vines grow… and therefore, the make-up of the grapes… and ultimately, how the wine will taste.
- The Oxford Encyclopedia of Wine
- The Wine Bible