Russian River Valley
While some are familiar with the intricate flavor profile of Chardonnay,
most are unaware of the grandeur and distinction these wines can
achieve in Russian River Valley. Russian River Valley is an idyllic
growing region along the northwest coastal fringes of Sonoma
County. Its proximity to the Pacific Ocean favors a fog-laden grape-
growing region with redwood forests set as a backdrop. Wines from
Russian River Valley are some of the most enchanting of all Pinot
Noir because of their seductive aromatics and flavor profile. They
have a captivating personality.
Climate is etched by the cooling influences of the Pacific Ocean that
navigates its route into the valley through a split in the mountain
ranges, referred to as the Petaluma Gap. The growing season is
slowed by heavy fog that creeps its way through the valley, migrating
northward at night. In some regions, this maritime influence will cause
temperatures to drop by 40 degrees. This downward shift allows
Russian River Valley grapes to ripen slowly, retaining their freshness
and natural acidity.
There are more variations of soils in Russian River Valley than
France. The shifting of tectonic plates over millions of years and
volcanic activity in the Mayacamas Mountains created a soil mixture
of alluvial, sandstone and sedimentary deposits. Some of the most
cherished soils are those of well-drained loamy sandstone referred to
as Goldridge. These wines are always among my favorites because
of their elegance and complexity of flavors. They display bright yellow
and golden fruits paired against a backdrop of fresh acidity, giving it
an incredible balance that can easily be paired with most foods.
To better understand the wines of Russian River Valley, they have
been grouped into six neighborhoods: Middle Reach, Laguna Ridge,
Santa Rosa Plains, Sebastopol Hills, Green Valley, and Eastern Hills.
California has done an analysis of soils, sites and climate from each
neighborhood. Like a fingerprint analysis, they have determined that
scientifically “Neighborhoods of Russian River Valley are unique from
any other growing region in the world and that they are statistically
distinctive between each other.” Also, winemaking does not alter this
continuity. The neighborhood accurately defines the sensory
characteristics that originate from individual soils and microclimates.
Each of these sub-regions has a personalized style and unique
signature. Many wineries have vineyards in several neighborhoods.