California Wine Regions
Central Valley Area
The Central California valley wine region lies east of San Francisco Bay in the central California valley and runs south through the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys to Bakersfield. Viticulture in California’s vast interior valley, nestled between the state’s coastal mountain range and the Sierra Nevada, is actually two valleys: the Sacramento Valley in the north and the San Joaquin Valley in the south, which includes the Delta area located in the middle where the two valleys meet. Although the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys are not designated AVAs, the region produces 71 percent of the state’s wine grapes and is home to eight AVAs — Clarksburg, Diablo Grande, Dunnigan Hills, Lodi, Madera, Merritt Island, River Junction and Salado Creek. The Sacramento Valley runs for approximately 120 miles from Red Bluff in the northern end of the valley to the city of Sacramento. Bordered by the Sierra Nevada to the east and the Coast Ranges to the west, this level, sun-drenched, agriculturally rich area is unaffected by ocean influences. The San Joaquin Valley is filled with fertile and rich soils, which are among the richest and deepest in the world. The mountain ranges in this region drain into the San Joaquin River, and the river deposits the deep loam (equal mixture of sand and silt) soils, which are characteristic of the region. The combination of soil and regional weather creates growing conditions that are often ideal and create vines that are naturally vigorous.
Lodi-American Viticultural Area (AVA)
The Lodi Appellation is a federally designated American Viticulture Area recognized for the distinctive quality of its wines. Located directly east of San Francisco at the edge of the Sacramento River Delta, the Lodi appellation is noted for its classic Mediterranean climate and its distinctive sandy soils that provide the perfect environment for the production of world-class wines. For more information on the Lodi wine region you can visit the Lodi-Woodbrige Winegrape Commission website. Click here…
Suisun Valley-American Viticultural Area (AVA)
The Suisun Valley lies within the southern end of two ranges of the Coast Range, the Vaca Mountains to the east and the Mt. George Range to the west. Suisun Valley terminates in the south at the marshlands of Suisun Bay. To the north Suisun Valley rolls up into Wooden Valley at the Napa County line. For more information on the Suisun Valley AVA you can visit the Suisun Valley Grape Growers Association web site. Click here…
Located directly north of Sonoma County and about 90 miles north of San Francisco, the Mendocino wine region is bounded by California’s Coastal Mountain Range, the Pacific Ocean and the great northern redwood forests. Mendocino County is highly diverse with coastal influences, mountaintops, river valleys, and inland regions that have either Mediterranean like climates or like Northern Europe. Two websites where you can learn more about Mendocino County are Gomendo and Cal Wineries.
Sierra Foothills-Amador County
The Sierra Foothill wine region of the central California valley is generally east of San Francisco and includes the El Dorado and Amador County wine growing regions. More than 100 wineries are located in this area with vineyards generally located between 1,500 to 3,000 feet where elevation creates a four-season climate. The shallow, mountainside soils create moderate stress on the vines, producing low to moderate yields and high quality. The region has rolling, sun-drenched hillsides, warm climate, and volcanic, decomposed granite soils, which are ideal conditions for producing quality wine grapes. For more information on the on this region Click here…
The Paso Robles AVA has over 20,000 acres under vine and is emerging as a leader in Californian viticulture with over 100 wineries. Paso Robles has a greater day-to-night temperature swing than any other AVA in California. This optimal climate along with exceptional soil produces a range of exceptional varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot, Viognier, Primitivo, and Petite Verdot. And as of late 2014, Paso Robles has 11 new sub-region AVA’s to distinguish between the varied geography and diverse macro-climates. For more information on the Paso Robles AVA you can visit the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance website. Click
The Napa Valley AVA is considered one of the top wine regions in California with over 300 wineries. The
valley is flanked by the Mayacamas Mountain range on the western and northern sides and the Vaca Mountain range to the east. Volcanic soil and a Mediterranean climate are conducive to growing quality wine grapes. In 1976, the region got a boost from the Paris Wine Tasting Of 1976, which featured a Napa Valley Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, which bested French labels in a blind tasting format. The results of this tasting cemented the region’s reputation of its ability to produce world-class wines. For more information about Napa Valley you can visit the Napa Valley Vintners website. Click here…
Russian River Valley
The Russian River Valley AVA is one of the most recognized in America and is internationally renowned for its Pinot Noir, which excels in this cool climate area. The defining characteristic of the vineyards in the Russian River Valley AVA is the cooling fog that is drawn inland from the Pacific Ocean each day. For more information on the area you can visit the Russian River Valley Winegrowers website. Click