Wineguys Radio and the Wine Region Debate
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California’s Napa Valley is the best-known, most prestigious wine region in America. And yet only about four percent of California’s wine comes from the vineyard lands of Napa Valley! Most of Napa Valley’s wineries are small operations, although a few large wineries, such as Robert Mondavi Winery, Beringer, and Sutter Home, are based in Napa County.
Many Napa Valley wineries own large vineyards, which surround their properties like gorgeous manicured lawns. Other wineries don’t own vineyards but instead buy their grapes from independent grape growers or buy juice or bulk wine from other wine producers. And some Napa Valley wine producers don’t have their own wineries; they bring their grapes to custom-crush wine facilities, which they rent — all for the distinction of making “Napa Valley wine.”
Sonoma County is blessed with a bevy of the best of those factors, presented in such a variety of combinations as to create a welcome, wholesome diversity of growing regions where, curiously, north is “hot” and south is “cool.” Not only is Sonoma County revered for foodstuffs ranging from goat cheese to Muscovy duck, from Pacific oysters to flavorful, farm fresh produce that restaurants clamor for, nearly every type of wine grape can be splendidly grown in one or more of Sonoma County’s regions, from the cool weather loving Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to the warm weather Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel.