There’s just something special about Sonoma. Every time I have been there I felt it. Maybe it’s that drive over the Golden Gate that begins to fire me up. Or it’s making the turn out of Marin County and into the flats bordering San Pablo Bay and the low rolling hills that mark the beginning of the Los Carneros area. But each time I cross that county line it’s like I’ve arrived at a place that I am meant to be. Don’t get me wrong, I adore the Napa Valley, positively savor the Central Coast, but there’s just something special about Sonoma. I think it’s the diversity of the experience and the wine.
Sonoma is a collection of (GEEK ALERT) mesoclimates. Mesoclimate refers to the climate in a pretty small area, like a vineyard. By the way, climate is what happens over time, weather is what basically is happening now. It might be surprising to you that there can be significant climate variation in parcels of vineyard land that are even right next to each other. It’s not unique to Sonoma that mesoclimates influence the grapes and the wine. But Sonoma has a very wide variety of these mesoclimates due to its geology and the configuration of the hills, streams, mountains and, most importantly, the influences of the bordering Pacific Ocean to the west and the cooling winds of San Pablo Bay to the south. So all of these mesoclimates are a big reason there are terrific Cabernet Sauvignon in the Alexander Valley, stylish Pinot Noir from the Russian River, juicy Zinfandel from Dry Creek, delightful Chardonnay from just about everywhere, Syrah coming into its own on the Sonoma Coast and world class bubbly from Green Valley – get the picture? There are fifteen subregions in Sonoma County and each one seems to put its own stamp on the wine.
The other magical thing about Sonoma County is that its a great place to get back in touch with yourself, whether you’re sitting in a lovely restaurant on the square in the old mission city of Sonoma or in the quaint charm of Healdsburg, hiking through Jack London State Park in Kenwood or floating on a tube down the Russian River under the bridge at Guerneville. Hey, we even went skydiving over the vineyards near Cloverdale! (Really).
Whatever you do, and wherever you do it in Sonoma, there’s all that wonderful wine to sip along the way. Here’s a handy link to the Sonoma County Vintners Association for lots of info and for an interactive map
Since you may not be in Sonoma anytime soon, here’s a Sonoma six pack to give you a virtual visit.
2010 Iron Horse Classic Vintage Brut $40
Traditional method sparkler that will light up your taste buds. Zippy and flavorful with a supple finish. From the Green Valley AVA.
2012 Quivira Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley $26
Blackberry and spice from the heart of Dry Creek. Organically and biodynamically farmed estate grapes.
2013 Landmark Overlook Chardonnay $25
Medium bodied and delightful Sonoma County chard. Citrus and stone fruit.
2012 St. Francis Merlot, Sonoma Valley $20
Drinkable and versatile… tastes like a chocolate covered cherry.
2012 Matrix Estate Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley $38
Juicy plum and berry with great balance.
2013 Rodney Strong Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley $20
Tasty everyday Cabernet that’s full and ripe. One of my midweek Cabs.