We’ve reached the final leg of our virtual California road trip and we’re ending in one of the most impressive wine regions in the world, Sonoma! Buckle up and learn more about what makes this region so iconic.
1. It’s considered the birthplace of the California wine industry
Despite what other regions may claim, Sonoma County is considered the birthplace of Californian wine. It is home to the two oldest wineries in the state, Buena Vista Winery and Gundlach Bundschu, the latter being the oldest “continuously family-owned winery” in California. Established in 1857 and 1858 respectively, the two iconic estates continue to produce wines and host visits even 150 years on.
Via Buena Vista Winery
2. Wine Enthusiast named it Wine Region of the Year in 2019
Following in the footsteps of the neighbouring California region of Paso Robles, Sonoma County was recognized in 2019 as the Wine Region of the Year. The region impressed judges with its commitment to sustainability, consistently high scoring wines, and resilience following the 2017 wildfires.
Via Wine Enthusiast
3. Sonoma is divided into 18 distinct AVA’s
Narrowly surpassing Napa Valley as the region with the most AVAs, Sonoma County is home to 18 individual AVAs, each with a unique climate and differing varietals. The 18 AVAs are Alexander Valley, Bennett Valley, Carnero – Sonoma, Chalk Hill, Dry Creek Valley, Fountaingrove District, Fort Ross – Seaview, Green Valley of Russian River Valley, Knights Valley, Moon Mountain, Northern Sonoma, Petaluma Gap, Pine Mountain – Cloverdale Park, Rockpile, Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma Mountain, and Sonoma Valley.
Want a breakdown of each region? Check out this article from Sonoma County Tourism.
4. There are over 60 varietals planted in Sonoma County, but 7 reign supreme
Across the ~62,000 acres of grapes in Sonoma County, over 60 varietals thrive thanks to the diverse climates, terroirs, and temperatures throughout the region. However, only seven varietals make up more than 90% of the planted acres! From most to least planted, these popular grapes are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah.
5. Wine and tourism have a major economic impact.
Wine and tourism go hand in hand. After all, who doesn’t want to visit a vineyard? According to a 2019 report by Sonoma County Vintners, Sonoma generates $1.2 Billion every year thanks to wine related tourism. This includes winery tours, overnight stays, and tastings. Evidently, following the wildfires of 2020 and the ongoing pandemic, tourism in the area has significantly decreased. As such, more focus has been placed on retail wine sales to sustain the industry. It is estimated that Sonoma produced $8 Billion worth of wine last year, adding to the local, statewide, and national economy.
6. It is the most sustainable winegrowing region in the world.
Sonoma County has felt the effects of environmental disasters and climate change firsthand. To protect the environment, economy, and legacy of California, the winemakers of Sonoma County have pledged to be the most sustainable wine region worldwide. Sonoma County Winegrowers states that 99% of all Sonoma estates have been certified as sustainable by third party organizations.
In 2020, 17 producers partnered with the California Land Stewardship Institute to launch a Climate Adaptation Certification program, a first of its kind study to accurately assess and address the impact of climate change on vineyards. The goal is to develop best practices that can be shared with producers around the world to mitigate the ongoing climate crisis.
Want to sip on some more Sonoma? Join us for the final leg of our virtual California road trip on April 29!
Still craving California? Check out our entire collection of Californian wine here.