Travels in Wine / Sonoma

Travels in Wine Sonoma: setting the scene


Sarah Knowles MW Sarah Knowles MW / 17 January 2019

Background to my travels in Sonoma

In September 2018 I spent five days in Sonoma on a buying trip. Two days were hosted by the Sonoma Valley Vintners and Vinexpo, and formed a detailed look into everything Sonoma – mirco-climates, AVAs (American Viticultural Areas), grape varieties, clones, rootstocks, winemakers and much more.

There were lectures on climate change, sustainability, changing trends in winemaking and Sonoma history. Following this detailed introduction and armed with lots of new information, I spent a further three days driving the length and breadth of the valley visiting long-term suppliers and new prospects looking for gems in what is widely regarded as the birthplace of California wine industry.

Before we get started, here’s a quick overview of the region.

Sonoma fact file

Overview of the region
  • Roughly 17 miles long, the Sonoma Valley lies next to Napa and is 45 miles north of San Francisco
  • Sonoma County has 18 AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) shaded on the map above
  • While chardonnay, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon are the most planted grape varieties, Sonoma is home to more than 60 varieties
  • Russian colonists planted grapes on the coast of Sonoma County in 1812
  • Sonoma Wine Country lays claim to being the birthplace of California's modern wine industry and has the state's oldest commercial winery (Buena Vista)
  • Sonoma has more than 50 miles of Pacific coastline
  • Sonoma has more than 62,000 acres of grapes; about 1,800 grape growers
  • It has more acres of vineyards than Napa
  • 7.4 million tourists visit Sonoma County each year

Read on to hear about my vineyard visits and meet some of the people behind the wines…

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