Russian River Valley Wine Descriptions

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Description 1 of 3

The Russian River Valley is the most southerly AVA within Northern Sonoma. It is named for the influx of Russian immigrants who, between 1812 and 1841, settled along the Sonoma coast, establishing agricultural businesses including the planting of wine grapes. Beginning at Fort Ross they moved up to Sebastopol, Graton and Freestone, eventually settling in what would become Russian River Valley.

Most of the Russian settlers abandoned the area by 1841, but other settlers had already migrated there and continued to support viticultural plantings. By the 1870s, the wine industry began to take hold and companies such as the Santa Rosa Wine Company, Martini and Prati, Korbel Cellars and Foppiano established longstanding wineries. 
The Prohibition was a devastating blow to the region, but there were some survival techniques employed by certain wineries to get around the problem. The Alicante-Bouchet grape from Europe, know for its unique teinturier (naturally dark, heavily pigmented juice without need for skin contact) properties was already being used as a colorant in blends. Wine-makers realized they could dilute it like crazy and it would still look the same. Add some sugar to that and no one would be the wiser, right? It turned out that the cool-climate Russian River Valley was perfectly suited to growing Alicante, so many wineries were able to get by bootlegging  their “Jackass” sugar wines. Martinelli still has land within its properties called Jackass Vineyard for this reason.
Finally, in the 1960s, University of California Farm Advisor Bob Sisson declared that growers should give more love to this cool-climate region and focus their attention on the type of sophisticated grape cultivation best suited to it, particularly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for both still and sparkling wines. From there, Russian River Valley became one of the most sought after growing areas in California. It was granted AVA status in 1983. ~ Amanda Schuster
– Description from Amanda Schuster

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Description 2 of 3

Twenty odd years ago, the beautiful redwood-clad Russian River Valley was an unassuming mixed agricultural area, which drew little attention in status wine circles. Since then, the cool-climate consciousness that has swept across wine regions from coast to coast has given this low-lying valley and its 10,000 acres of vineyards considerably greater cachet. Russian River Valley, granted official appellation standing in 1983, is now one of the most recognized AVA names in America. The appellation is internationally renowned for challenging varieties like Pinot Noir, which excels in this cool-climate, yielding highly expressive wines. A lean and restrained style of Chardonnay is also a signature cepage for the region. One sixth of Sonoma County's total vineyard acreage falls within the Russian River AVA boundaries, with all vineyards sharing to varying degrees the defining characteristic of cooling fog that is drawn inland from the Pacific each day. – Description from Appellation America (view original content)

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Description 3 of 3

Try to catch the movie FROM OBSCURITY TO EXCELLENCE: The Story of the Grapes and Wines of the Russian River Valley by Pinot Noir grower Maurice (Joe) Nugent. Very smart, charming movie packed with information. Takes you from the 1860s through prohibition and the great depression to the final triumph of world recognition for its Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.

Playing Dec. 1, 2012 at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts. See website for ticket info and trailer:

Film can be booked for private showings, see info on website.


– Description from deemcreative

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