Description 1 of 2

Anderson Valley AVA is located within Mendocino County in the North Coast region of California. It’s considered one of the coolest regions in the state, with dense areas of fog, cool winds and rain, with just enough sun to favor conditions for a long growing season, leading to balanced acid structure in the grapes. 

Anderson Valley is named for a mid 1800s pioneer family who isolated themselves from the rest of the frontier packs and were drawn to the valley’s natural beauty, fertile grounds and abundant wildlife. Soon, other settlers, mainly the Swiss and those from the Eastern US, came to join them. Most early attempts at wine-making failed due to cold and frost conditions near the valley floor. It wasn’t until the 1890s that an influx of Italian immigrants found their to the valley and settled in the Greenwood Ridge section, which is considerably higher, sunnier and warmer than the lower parts of the valley. These immigrants are credited with starting the practice of commercial wine-making in the area, with many others soon to follow their example of planting into the hillsides to allow maturation of the grapes. The industry flourished into the 20th century. 
 
Prohibition between 1920 and 1933 but a sudden cork in the works. Although some “backdoor” operations at wineries were being practiced, including making bootleg “jack ass wine” out of sugar-spiked, watered down Alicante (a grape that has naturally dark juice that doesn’t lighten when diluted), most vineyards were forced to shut down and wither. 
 
Things didn’t fare better after the Repeal, however. In 1946, the Italian Swiss Colony company saw potential in the valley and offered incentives to grow Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Chasselas and Carignan. However, they didn’t research the growing conditions very well and the grapes turned out to be far more acidic and harder to grow than they desired, with bad frost seasons and difficult harvests. Worse, they didn’t take measures to graft onto American rootstocks, so many of the vines suffered from Phylloxera, that pesky bug everyone thought was eradicated by the turn of the century. Most of these vines ended up being pulled. 
 
In the 1960s, experts at University of California at Davis saw the excellent potential of growing conditions in Anderson Valley, as long as suitable grapes are planted. Physician Donald Edmeades had followed the study and selected varietals for planting at a vineyard with a sign that read “Edmeades Folly.” Skeptics waited. Then Gretchen and Tony Husch planted Gewurtztraminer, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir nearby, eventually starting Husch Winery in 1971, Alexander Valley’s first commercial endeavor since the Prohibition. Slow expansion to the industry took place throughout the decade. 
 
In 1982, the French firm Louis Roederer Estates established an outpost in Anderson Valley, seeing its potential for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay production for an American version of Champagne style sparkling wines. This caused a surge in Anderson Valley’s popularity as a quality wine-making designation.
 
Most of the growing region is in the cooler, north-west section of the valley, closest to the Pacific Ocean. Popular varietals are Pinot Noir and the Alsace grapes such as Gewurtztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Muscat and Riesling (an annual Alsace wine festival started in 2006). The south-east section sees higher temperatures suited to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zinfandel. ~Amanda Schuster
 
– Description from Amanda Schuster

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Description 2 of 2

in California’s Mendocino County now ranks with the top Pinot Noir regions in North America. While production is not huge, quality is soaring, as rising-star winemakers from Adrian Fog, Copain, Littorai, Radio Coteau and Siduri join home-grown stalwarts such as Lazy Creek, Londer and Navarro in producing sleek, powerful Pinots.

An unusual transverse appellation -- cutting laterally through the coastal range rather than lying between ridges -- Anderson Valley is also a mere 10-15 miles from the cold Pacific Ocean. These factors result in a wide diurnal range, with daily high and low temperatures diverging up to 40 or 50 degrees. This enables Pinot Noir growers to keep acid development in line with sugar and flavor formation through long, warm Indian summers. It also makes for superb Gewurztraminer and Riesling, giving rise to the valley’s annual Alsatian festival. Then there’s sparkling wine. With three methode champenoise sparkling houses, including the renowned Roederer Estate, Anderson Valley is bubbly paradise.

~ Thom Elkjer, Mendocino Editor – Description from Appellation America (view original content)

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