Page 61 - March2017

Basic HTML Version

While much of America’s early wine
history begins with Spanish churches,
in Sonoma County, Russian fur traders
are part of the story as well. Almost 200
years ago, early Russian colonists planted
vineyards and influenced agriculture in
the region, particularly in the area known
today as the Russian River Valley, one of
the specially designated growing areas
within the Sonoma County American
Viticultural Area (AVA).
Later, established church missions would
influence the planting of more vineyards,
and the Mexican government would also
play a role in how the region developed.
The growth of the vineyard acreage began
to significantly expand after a Hungarian
nobleman moved to the county in the
1860s. He brought with him 100,000
cuttings of 350 different grape varieties
from France, Germany, Italy, and Spain,
and the majority of these cuttings were
planted in the immediate area. As more
immigrants with winemaking experience
also arrived, the region soon became
known as a producer of fine table wine.
In 1919, Prohibition was instated
and the American government shut
down the commercial wine industry.
Subsequently, a thriving viticultural
economy was considerably damaged. Only
160 of California’s 700 previous wineries
remained when Prohibition was repealed
in 1933.
Sonoma County’s wine revival began
immediately and still continues to this
day. Bulk wine supported the region’s
new beginning and paved the way for the
production of the high quality wines that
we now enjoy today. The Sonoma County
Winegrowers association is committed to
sustainability and protecting the land for
future generations.
Currently, Sonoma County has 16 unique
appellations within its boundaries.
Terroir influences including fog from the
Pacific Ocean, hillside sun exposure, and
proximity to the river all influence the
wine that is produced, as each different
microclimate supports the grapes
differently. Sonoma is currently home to
over 60 different grape varieties which
are spread over more than 60,000 acres,
and growers emphasize the importance
of putting the right grape variety in the
right vineyard area for the highest quality
fruit. In recent years, the region has
experienced some record wine crops that
have led to some fantastic wines out in
the market.
Amid the sun and surf this spring, sip on
some Sonoma to make the season even
more special. The region’s diverse terroir
means a perfect wine for every occasion.
By Sandra Crittenden
sipping Sonoma
in the spring time
Sonoma County Vinyard
MARCH 2017 |