Straddling northern Marin and southern Sonoma counties, The Petaluma Gap acts as a 200,000-funnel for the breezes off the Pacific. From its western edge at Bodega Bay, The Gap stretches southeast to Highway 37 at Sears Point on San Pablo Bay, then north to the base of Sonoma Mountain. Becoming Sonoma’s 17th sub-AVA in 2017, it counts two dozen plus wineries within its boundaries, and many others who are buying grapes from its vineyards.
Rombauer chardonnay, aka “cougar juice,” “Danville crack,” and “Vitamin R,” is prized for its buttery, creamy richness, all sourced from Sonoma County. So many people are now hooked on this soft and sophisticated chardonnay that getting your hands on it now is mater of luck, as it is tightly allocated.
Wine is largely a pilgrimage: both for the people who make it and for the people who seek to appreciate it. There are so many things to learn. Attending winetasting seminars with a group of winemakers who have different viewpoints yet many commonalities, is fodder for a fantastic learning experience, which is just what the audience got when they attended “Winemakers and Their Muses” at the 2022 Big Sur Food and Wine Festival held at the Alila Ventana resort in early November.
In the heart of Dry Creek Valley, on a 23-acre biodynamic vineyard and farm, two tasting rooms sit side by side next to the creek for which the Valley, a mecca for Zinfandel, is known. Welcome to VML and Truett-Hurst, two brands under one company. The outdoors seating here is ample and so relaxing. Tasting pods for up to 6 guests are set in a pleasant courtyard, each with shades and fans. Wind rustles the cottonwood and Russian thistles along the creekbed, mimicking the sound of running water.
One of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA’s most iconic and best-known brands, Ridge Winery, celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. David Amadia, President of Ridge, who worked for Randall Grahm at Bonny Doon for four years prior to joining Ridge in 2005, says they are excited for the winery’s “Diamond Jubilee.” Amadia is putting together 100 lots of Ridge wines for a special auction in London with Christie’s later this fall. Amadia explains, “We attribute our success to Draper’s leadership and philosophy. We are single-vineyard winemakers. We translate grapes into bottle, using only pre-industrial winemaking, which means native yeast, no additives and no processing.”