We get to taste wine all the time here at Snooth (it’s what we do, after all), and when I travel to a winemaking region I get to spend countless hours in cellars and traipsing around among the vines. You might get the impression that wine is all I care about, which, while not terribly off the mark, ain’t the truth.
One of the things I’ve tried to do as my travels have brought me to various and sundry places is to learn a little more about the history of a wine-producing region, and the people and places that stand out and help to tell its story. I’ve also started to look for the surprises that frequently lay on the fringes of many regions, both literally and philosophically.
I was lucky enough to spend some time in Sonoma last year, a wonderful place blessed with natural beauty and an admirable culture of respect for all things, including land, hard work, and consumers! During my stay there I did a bit of poking around, and put together this short list of fun, surprising, facts that can help to give one a fuller picture of what Sonoma is all about.
Want more about Sonoma?Come to Snooth and check out our Sonoma profiles, including Patz & Hall, Dashe Cellars, and Alexander Valley Vineyards. While you're there, find out about Great Values in Cabernet Sauvignon and 12 Killer West Coast Chardonnays.
The Highest of the HighOne of the facts that almost all Californian winemakers have to deal with is that it can get really hot in California, and truth is most wine grapes are like people: They like it warm, but if it's too hot, they can get burned. I’m always intrigued by high-elevation vineyards, and those in Sonoma manage to escape the excessive heat of the valley while providing a near-ideal environment for some of my favorite grapes. Pinot in particular thrives at these heights.
At 1200 feet, Van der Kamp Vineyard is the highest vineyard on Sonoma Mountain, overlooking the town of Kenwood. It’s also planted with some of the oldest Pinot Noir vines in all of Sonoma County.
D. H. Gustafson Family Vineyards can beat Van der Kamp by a few hundred feet. Located at 1800 dizzying feet above sea level, these vineyards are the highest family-owned estate vineyards in Sonoma County.
But the winner in the elevation sweepstakes has got to be Arbios Cellars, whose Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard is planted on lands that range from 2000-3000 feet above sea level. These Alexander Valley vineyards are also the northernmost vineyards in Sonoma County.