Peterson Winery grew out of the vineyards that now supply us with grapes. That may seem unusual, but my background is not just in winemaking but it is also in grape growing, otherwise known as viticulture. That is why I refer to myself as a winegrower. For me making great wine is about the grapes -- where and how they were grown, what the weather conditions were and how the vineyards were managed during the growing season. Before I digress too much, let me give you a quick overview of how Peterson Winery came to be.
I came to Dry Creek Valley in 1983, working with my partner, Bill Hambrecht, to find and develop world-class vineyard properties. It was exciting to be able to select ideal vineyard locations and then plant the appropriate grape variety and clone for that growing region. Once the vineyards came into production, we had amazing fruit being produced in our Dry Creek Valley (Sonoma County) vineyards and our Mendocino County Floodgate Vineyard. The next step was a natural one. I wanted to make wine from the fruits of my labor. (Sorry about the pun, it was too good to pass up.)
In 1987, all the pieces fell into place and Peterson Winery was born. We now produce 5000 cases annually, mostly in small lots. View all Peterson Winery Wines
About Sonoma CountyView a map of Sonoma County wineries
Twice as large as Napa in size, Sonoma County only makes about a half the amount of wine as her northeasterly neighbor. But Sonoma, with her size, is able to vouch for more diversity within her borders, including sub-AVAs that are climatically varied. The atmosphere of Sonoma is decidedly laid back and down home country style. But in wines, they are keeping up with the Joneses, or Napa-ites if you will. Grape varieties are more varied here, from Pinot Noir and Zinfandel to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
Notable FactsThe 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.
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.