California’s Sonoma County


By Bruce Cochran

Hello Everyone,

This week we’ll examine California’s North Coast, the four-county region north of San Francisco that includes Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley.

We’ll look at the most diverse and multifaceted county of the four, the one that includes California’s first capital …

Try a new wine this week! Bruce

Martin Ray Winery’s Angeline

Few wine regions make as many different types of wine as Sonoma County’s varied hills and valleys. From Carneros in the south to Dry Creek in the north, local microclimates range from cool enough to make great pinot noir, to warm enough for deep, full-bodied old-vine zins.

The city of Sonoma sits in Sonoma Valley. Sonoma Valley is in the southern part of Sonoma County. Sonoma County has many valleys that yield excellent wines.

Sonoma Valley’s southern end shares the Carneros District with the southern end of neighboring Napa Valley. It’s cooled by an offshoot of the San Francisco Bay, the reason for this area’s many pinot noir vineyards. Chardonnay from Carneros is often described as Burgundian, often exhibiting a combination of intense flavor and elegant, French-like style.

Much of the valley north of Carneros is warmer, and many other grape varieties are grown, including cabernet sauvignon and zinfandel. The valley with perhaps the

most notable zinfandel is Dry Creek Valley in northern Sonoma County. Several old vineyards, many of them “head pruned” (standing individually, not trellised with other vines), still exist after a century or more. Wines from these vineyards are often deeply colored and full bodied.

Upstream from the town of Healdsburg is a region called Alexander Valley, where many different grape varieties are grown. Downstream, closer to the ocean, it’s cooler, and a great place for pinot noir, as well as “Burgundian” chardonnays.

I’ve enjoyed many Sonoma County wines over the years, and have long been a fan of the diversity of flavors and styles found there. One that I like to serve for groups is called Angeline. The chardonnay showed very well at our November eWine Sampling in Little Rock. It’s a second label for Martin Ray Winery in Russian River Valley and retails for about $15 a bottle.

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