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The primary areas for fine wines all lie within 100 miles of the Pacific Ocean and extend over 600 miles of the states 900-mile coastline. It runs North to South with convoluted climates, sub-climates and diverse soils that allow for the production of a multitude of grape varieties throughout the state.

Mendocino the northernmost county is best known for its robust Zinfandel and Petite Sirah, melon-like Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling, although of late Sparkling Wines and Pinot Noir are taking a foothold. In Napa, Cabernet Sauvignon is king, whether it is the berry flavors of the mountains, or the herbal flavors of the valley floor. The diversity of climate and soil also allows for the growing of big intense Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Zinfandel. Sonoma is the largest of the fine wine growing counties and most diverse. On the Russian River coast Pinot Noir reigns supreme with depth of fruit and flavor and crisp Chablis style Chardonnay. As you head east into the Dry Creek Valley, rich, berry-like Zinfandel are produced. Further east in the Alexander Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, lush and velvety along with tropical fruit flavored Chardonnay. Finally the warmer Sonoma Valley produces big fruit driven Zinfandels, Chardonnays, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Further inland Amador and the Sierra Foothills are home to Port-like Zinfandels and rich full bodied Syrahs.

The two most important counties in the Central Coast for fine wines are Monterey and Santa Barbara Counties. Here, Pinot Noir is queen with lush full age-worthy wines rich in texture, complexity and character and the Burundian style Chardonnays with higher acidity and vibrant fruit. Sauvignon Blancs are also hallmarks of the Central Coast with Syrah is making inroads in some of the warmer areas of the Central Coast.


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