Russian River Valley, USA
Located west of Santa Rosa and south of Healdsburg, the Russian River Valley is
an AVA that forms part of the Sonoma County region in northern California. The
trump card for this, the most celebrated of the Sonoma AVAs, is its possession
of some particularly cool spots, found mostly near the Pacific Ocean. Here, the
effects of the windy valleys and coastal ridge tops combine to make a climate
that is positively cold by Californian standards, but ideal for making elegant
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Typically, the region experiences foggy mornings followed by warm days before
the fog returns in the afternoons with cooling breezes. These are conditions that
allow the grapes to develop slowly, retaining high natural acidity at full physiological
ripeness. This slow development of grapes over a long growing season is the hallmark
of many of the world's elite wine regions.
The 1990s saw an increasing number of premium wineries emerge in this region of
western Sonoma, and it is now California's top spot for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
In particular, new vineyard plantings in sites that were previously considered
too cool for grapes have proved to be a great success, resulting in wines displaying
freshness, complexity and elegance.