Sonoma Valley Appellation

Dec. 15, 2010

Sonoma Valley 
This is the largest of four appellations in southeastern Sonoma County, with over 15,000 acres of vineyards. Also known as Valley of the Moon, it is open at both the north and south ends, allowing for daily cooling.

Soils are fertile and loamy with good moisture retention.

Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel lead numerous varietals in production.

Sonoma County’s first grapes were planted by the Franciscan monks at Mission San Francisco de Solano in 1823. Hungarian “Count” Haraszthy founded California’s first commercial winemaking facility here in 1856.

Bennett Valley
At the northwestern tip of the Sonoma Valley region, this valley sits below three mountain peaks--Bennett Mountain, Taylor Mountain and  Sonoma Mountain--with about 650 acres of vineyards planted in well-drained benchland soils.

Varietals include: Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah, with lesser amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Barbera, Grenache, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Bennett Valley is one of the smallest appellations in California.

Los Carneros
Bordered along the south by San Pablo Bay, Los Carneros receives the cooling effects of the marine layer. Its climate compares to that of both the Burgundy and Bordeaux regions of France. Los Carneros means “the rams” in Spanish.


Two types of soils predominate: the tan-colored, marine-derived and calcium-rich Haire, and the blacker Diablo series formed by marsh sediments.

Pinot Noir and Chardonnay represent a majority of 28 varietals.

Sonoma Mountain
The Sonoma Mountain range rises above the town of Glen Ellen at the western edge of the Valley of the Moon. Vineyards can attain elevations of up to 1,400 feet and are steep-sloped with eastern exposures to catch the fog-free morning sun.

These vineyards fall within the larger Sonoma Valley AVA. However, due to the unique hillside terroir, they are entitled to use the more specific designation of the Sonoma Mountain AVA.


Soils are largely volcanic—rocky, well-drained and more meager in nutrients than at lower elevations. Fruit is intense and concentrated in flavor.

Grapes raised here are mainly Cabernet Sauvignon – also Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel.


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