Sonoma is a county geographically two and a half times as big as Napa, as well as with about a third more “acres” under vine, therefore much more grape production than Napa. There are 17 AVA’s in Sonoma with their own stories to tell, originated as they were, like their Napa cousins, by the local vintners and growers associations. Most notable (and specifically requested for tours) are: the Russian River Valley; Alexander Valley; and Dry Creek Valley; the three, fanning out from charming Healdsburg in the northern party of the county. Respectively, the predominate wines produced in these AVA’s are: Pinot Noir (and Chardonnay); Cabernet Sauvignon; and Zinfandel (with the uniqueness of old vines). Of equal and diverse wine interest is the Sonoma Valley, adjacent to and north of the town of Sonoma.
The most recent AVA in the county is Petaluma Gap, its motto being, “Wind to Wine” for its topographically induced climate. Then, there is Moon Mountain above Sonoma town, and to the west of Santa Rosa is the Santa Rosa Plain (though not an AVA as such). Not to be overlooked is the Carneros AVA which grows vast amounts of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes (especially for sparkling wine), which is located at the bottom of the Sonoma Valley and the Napa Valley. Sonoma County does present a more informal atmosphere with, by number more long-time family ownerships than Napa. Tasting fees are lower than Napa, and fewer long-in-advance appointments being needed, nor is it as far to reach geographically. Recently, both Forbes Magazine as well as Frommer’s Travel Guides designated “Sonoma” as the number one travel destination in the world for 2020! Let me show you around.