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Sonoma County is a major wine-producing region in California that is located north of San Francisco. There are more than 425 wineries in Sonoma County, as well as 17 different American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) – including Dry Creek Valley, Los Carneros, Northern Sonoma, Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast and Sonoma Valley - to designate the wide variety of climate and soil conditions found within this region.
Of these AVAs, easily the most recognizable one is Sonoma Valley, which includes more than 100 vineyards, ranging in size from small, family-run vineyards to Mediterranean-style villas. Sonoma, derived from an ancient Native American word meaning “moon,” is considered to be the birthplace of California wine. The earliest vineyards and wineries were located in the “valley of the moon,” with records of the first grapes planted in the area dating back to the early 19th century. By 1920, there were more than 250 wineries in Sonoma Valley.
Today, there are a number of notable wineries in Sonoma, including Benziger Winery, Charles Creek Vineyard, D’Agostini Winery, De Loach Vineyards, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Kendall-Jackson Winery, Kenwood Vineyards, and Rodney Strong Vineyards.
Each AVA within Sonoma County is known for producing certain varietals of wine. Thus, Sonoma Coast, which has a cooler climate and higher rainfall, is known for its Pinot Noir grapes that grow particularly well in this region. Russian River Valley also has a cool climate and is known for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, both of which are cool climate varietals.
While Sonoma County may not be as well-known as nearby Napa Valley, it is one of California’s largest producers of wine grapes, producing far more than Napa Valley.
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