Like the Burgundy wine region of France, the vineyards of Sonoma Coast offer an unusually long, cool and even
growing season. Lingering fog and wind from the nearby Pacific Ocean (or, in Los Carneros' case, the San Pablo Bay)
moderate temperatures throughout the growing season and slow the ripening process. With an extended "hang" time
on the vines, the results at harvest are small berries with firm acidity and highly concentrated varietal aromas and
"The 2006 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir opens with engaging aromas of ripe, round cherry, floral notes, spicy
clove and licorice. Cherry continues in the mouth, melding with rich plum, orange peel and tea leaves over
a mouth-watering jamminess. Balanced acidity and firm tannins round out a long, lingering finish."
-Melissa Stackhouse, Winemaker
La Crema Winery
Since 1979, La Crema Winery has been a pioneer in producing Burgundian varietals from the cool Sonoma coast. They handcraft their wine, one barrel at a time, at their family-owned estate located in the Russian River Valley. Balance, finesse and great fruit intensity come through in every glass of La Crema wine.
La Crema's location in the Russian River Valley is ideal for producing wines of uncompromising elegance and balance. To achieve this goal, several unique steps take place in getting fruit from the vineyards to the bottle. It begins in the vineyard, where careful canopy management and hand harvesting assure fully ripe, undamaged grapes are brought to the winery. At the winery, Winemaker Melissa Stackhouse uses artisan winemaking techniques to handcraft wines of distinctive flavor, elegance and balance.
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Twice as large as Napa in size, Sonoma County only makes about half as much wine as its northeasterly neighbor. Because of its vast size, however, Sonoma is able to achieve far more diversity within its borders, which include sub-AVAs that are climatically varied. The atmosphere of Sonoma is decidedly laid-back and down-to-earth, but the wines are serious and well-made, ranging in style from subtle and elegant to rich and powerful. Grape varieties are more varied here, from Pinot Noir and Zinfandel to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
The largest sub-AVAs of Sonoma include Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Sonoma Valley. Each sub-AVA, with its own micro-climate, is unique in its grape varieties and styles of wine. Dry Creek makes a mean Zinfandel while Russian River produces stand up Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Alexander Valley makes some of the better Cabernet Sauvignons in the county and Sonoma Valley creates excellent wines from all the above varieties. Other grapes found throughout Sonoma include Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.