Sonoma County is one of the most diverse places on earth; allowing us to experience diverse cultures, food, events and wine all over the county. Much of our diversity can be attributed to our geographical location with easy access to the ocean, rivers, mountains, etc. These different locations allow our county to create distinct and different wine. Most of us know some of the major designated American Viticultural Areas (AVA’s) in our region: Alexander Valley, Anderson Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast. A group of local wineries and winemakers are attempting to create an officially recognized AVA, The Petaluma Gap, which is currently a part of the Sonoma Coast AVA.
For many years, the Sonoma County wine industry has used the term “Petaluma Gap” to help define grapes that are exposed to a unique combination of wind, fog and soils that give the wine a distinctive character. Numerous wineries are located or source grapes in the region, including: Cline Cellars, Fogline Vineyards, Keller Estate, Trombetta Family Wines, Kosta Browne, Kendall Jackson, LaFollette Wines, Schug Winery and Twomey Cellars. The Petaluma Gap AVA applied for approved designated AVA status in February of this year. Approval can often take a few years.
Geographically, the Petaluma Gap borders West Marin and Valley Ford on the west, then follows Chileno Valley and Spring Hill Roads to Adobe Road on the east, Cotati on the north and Lakeville on the southeast. As inland valley air heats up, it pulls the cool coastal air into a naturally formed 15-mile-wide “gap” in the coastal range mountains. The wind flows off the ocean between Tomales Bay and Bodega Bay, builds up speed as it funnels through the gap, then empties into San Francisco Bay. Wind and fog define the area, giving the term “micro-climate” real meaning. There are daily temperature swings of forty to fifty degrees. This cooling “wind tunnel” creates smaller vineyard yields, causes the grapes to ripen later, and develops unique wine flavors.
It is always fun to be a part of the “ground-floor” of a movement and the Petaluma Gap is providing an opportunity to be on its ground floor as it will be holding an inaugural “Wind to Wine Festival” at the Sheraton Sonoma County in Petaluma on August 8thto showcase the Petaluma Gap wines. For more information on the organization and event, visit www.petalumagap.com.