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Growers & Appellations

Pruning Contest 2005
Luther Burbank called Sonoma County “the chosen spot of all the earth as far as nature is concerned,” and Sonoma Valley benefits from all the influences of this fortunate region: a moderate climate with a cooling maritime influence, warm northern areas that complement the cool southern sections, and a wide range of topography. The Valley’s geological diversity creates numerous mesoclimates and a variety of soils that let growers select the ideal conditions for each grape varietal.

A crescent-shaped region, Sonoma Valley is nestled between coastal mountain ranges—the Mayacamas Mountains to the east and the Sonoma Mountains to the west—and stretches from San Pablo Bay to the outer limits of the city of Santa Rosa. The district includes more than 16,000 acres of premium wine grapes and four official appellations, also called AVAs (American Viticultural Areas).

Sonoma Valley Appellation
Sonoma Mountain Appellation
Carneros-Sonoma Appellation
Bennett Valley Appellation

The Sonoma Valley appellation is bordered by the Sonoma Mountains on the west and the Mayacamas Mountains on the east and is roughly eight miles wide and 17 miles long. Warm days and breeze-cooled nights during the growing season create superb conditions for grape growers. The Valley climate and soils provide a perfect home for numerous premium wine grape varieties, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Zinfandel.

The Sonoma Mountain appellation, with its eastern to northeastern exposures, rises high above the western edge of Sonoma Valley on the flanks of Sonoma Mountain. Located above the typical morning and evening fog lines, the vines enjoy full morning sunlight and a lengthy growing season during which they can evenly develop and flourish. The region is steep and rustic and has a faraway feeling compared to the rest of the Valley. While best known for growing Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in its well-drained soils, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and Semillon grapes also thrive in its diverse mesoclimates.

The Carneros-Sonoma appellation is situated at the southern end of both Sonoma and Napa Counties and encompasses portions of both. Influenced by the marine environment of San Pablo Bay, which runs along its southern edge, Carneros-Sonoma is generally cooler in summer and warmer in winter than other nearby wine regions. The massive rolling vineyards are planted in rich, though shallow, bay-influenced soils and grow right up to the edges of the bay wetlands. The refreshing environment of Carneros-Sonoma is perfect for growing Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and, increasingly, Merlot and Syrah.

Bordering Santa Rosa, the northernmost Bennett Valley appellation is nestled between three mountainous peaks: Taylor Mountain to the west, Sonoma Mountain to the south, and Bennett Peak to the east. Currently consisting of only 650 planted acres, Bennett Valley is one of the smallest AVAs in California. Here well-drained volcanic soils combined with a fog-cooled climate that moderates summer temperatures, creating an ideal grape-growing environment for the production of ultra-premium wines. Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and other cool-climate grapes thrive here.

Appellation Information

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Local Attractions

Sonoma Valley Map

View and print any of these handy maps for directions to Sonoma Valley. Follow its charming roads to world-renowned wineries, delicious local produce, and fine dining of all varieties, and end your day in a cozy B&B, an historic hotel, or an elegant spa resort.

Sonoma Valley Merchant Map

Sonoma Valley Winery Map

Appellation Map

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