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Are you a fan of Russian River AVA Pinot, Chardonnay and even Zinfandel? The Russian River Valley is a big place with many distinct characteristics for growing and producing amazing world class wines. Cool, fog, warm and or windy? Get to know the area a little better by exploring the Russian River Appellation neighborhoods.
The Russian River AVA is known for growing some of the most sought after Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vineyards in the world. The Russian River AVA enjoys cooler temperatures than most other Sonoma County AVAs. This is due to consistent fog as a result of the proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Cool nights and warm days combined with broad diurnal temperature range provide excellent conditions to grow world class wine grapes.
Because the Russian River AVA is so vast there are multiple sub regions called “neighborhoods” that have their own distinctive personalities. Some neighborhoods are warmer than others. Wind plays more of a factor in certain locations and soils vary too. These elements define characteristics of finished wine, impact farming practices and prices for the fruit. Let’s take a quick look at the various Russian River Appellation neighborhoods.
Middle Reach – Russian River Appellation Neighborhood
Located near the town of Healdsburg, just south of Dry Creek Valley, sits the Middle Reach neighborhood of the Russian River AVA. East and Westside Road straddle the Russian River as it flows towards the coast within the Middle Reach neighborhood. This area is warmer than some of the other neighborhoods. The Middle Reach neighborhood has famous longtime Pinot Noir producers like Davis Bynum Winery, Bacigalupi Vineyards and Winery, Gary Farrell Vineyards, Rochioli and Williams Selyem Winery among a number of other super premium Pinot Noir producers.
Santa Rosa Plains
As the name suggests the Santa Rosa Plains neighborhood is relatively flat compared to surrounding areas. Even so, the Santa Rosa Plains neighborhood is made up of gently rolling bench land that provides a more vigorous opportunity to farm. The area ranges from the east side of the Laguna de Santa Rosa to the west side of Hwy 101. While the area does produce top notch Pinot and Chardonnay, the Santa Rosa Plains is also home to some of the oldest and tastiest Zinfandel in Sonoma County. A few of the more famous wineries in this area are Balletto Vineyards, DeLoach Vineyards, Martinelli Vineyards and a host of other top quality Russian River AVA producers.
South of Middle Reach but west of the Santa Rosa Plains sits the Laguna Ridge neighborhood. This is where the foothills of the coastal range begin. Slightly cooler than Middle Reach and the Santa Rosa Plains, the gold ridge soils in the area are a vintners delight. Laguna Ridge is the smallest of the Russian River AVA neighborhoods. Some legendary wineries in this zone include Joseph Swan Vineyards and Lynmar Estate.
Green Valley – Russian River Appellation Neighborhood
The Green Valley neighborhood also has the distinction of having its own official Sub AVA status, the Green Valley AVA. Green Valley is located just west of the Laguna Ridge neighborhood on the west side of Hwy 116. The Green Valley neighborhood runx north to south from Forestville to Sebastopol and west to the village of Occidental. The Green Valley neighborhood takes you from the foothills into the Coastal Range with dynamic terrain, cool temperatures and goldridge soil. Some of the wineries you will find here are Emeritus Vineyards, Dutton, Iron Horse Vineyards, Marimar Estate Vineyards, Ron Rubin Winery, and numerous small premium producers.
The Sebastopol Hills neighborhood is located on the south side of Bodega Hwy just outside of Sebastopol. The area has rolling hills and gold ridge soils. The Sebastopol Hills area embraces the wind and fog, but there is plenty of sun too! Some of the wineries in the area are Littorai Vineyards and Kanzler Vineyards among others.
The Eastern Hills neighborhood of the Russian River AVA is located all the way on the east side of Hwy 101 where coastal influence makes itself known however, less so than in any of the other Russian River neighborhoods. The area contains portions of Windsor, up to Healdsburg, and to the east borders the Chalk Hill AVA. This is the warmest part of the Russian River AVA with numerous soils types. Wineries in the area include Limerick Lane Winery, Merriam Vineyards and others.
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