Sonoma AVA Map

Sonoma AVA

The Napa/Sonoma WWS chapter is kicking off its first annual Appellation Series by celebrating the wines of the Sonoma AVA.

What is an “AVA”? An American Viticultural Area is a designated wine grape-growing region in the United States that is distinguishable by geographic features, and has its boundaries defined by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), United States Department of the Treasury.

Appellation Series Logo

Why group wines by AVA? There are many answers, but let’s start with the fact that traditionally, in old world wine-growing countries, such as France, Italy and Spain, the finest wines came to be known from the locations in which the grapes were grown. Knowing that the wine you are about to consume is from Sonoma provides greater confidence in the bottle’s contents than a wine from, say, Timbuktu!

On June 9th, we will be tasting wines from three of Sonoma’s finest wineries with tasting rooms on the historic Sonoma Plaza. We’ll have more in a future post about wine history and current production in Sonoma County, but for now, here is more on the three wineries (cribbed somewhat liberally from their own websites, linked below):

Roessler Cellars

Roessler’s Estate Vineyard is located 4 miles from the Pacific Ocean in the northernmost area of Sonoma County and was planted in the early summer of 2003. Founder Roger Roessler is joined by his brother, Richard Roessler, and renowned winemaker Wells Guthrie in developing some of the region’s finest vintages.

Roessler Cellars has made it a mission to make the finest single vineyard and appellation Chardonnay and Pinot Noir since 2000. They produce the highest-quality single-vineyard and appellation designated wines from the best wine growing regions in the United States. Their growers cultivate the grapes according to their strict farming criterion, and they carefully craft their wine to represent the best and breadth of America’s wine country.

Roessler primarily focuses on single-vineyard Pinot Noir, but have also added small lots of premium Chardonnay, which they feel are in keeping with their Burgundian roots. By searching out grapes from the premier grape growers in areas best suited to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, they are able to show unique and distinctive character arising from these specific sites. Working with the growers to maintain quality is paramount to ensuring the highest-quality fruit, and they tirelessly pursue precision in their production facility and in the vineyards.

Great interview with Roger Roessler on YouTube.

Review here and here.

P.S. The Tasting Room was built in the 1920s by the Sebastianis.

Adobe Road Winery Logo

Adobe Road Winery produces award winning small lot Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Grenache, Meritage, Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir, Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Zinfandel and Dessert Wines exclusively from Sonoma County vineyards.

Owners Kevin and Debra Buckler have a driving passion for wine. (He is a professional racecar driver and team owner.) They opened the Adobe Road Winery in southern Sonoma County to create wines that capture the essence of the vineyard. “We work hard to make sure each bottle of Adobe Road wine is handcrafted to showcase the best of each individual vineyard in each appellation we make wine from,” says Kevin. “We choose the best parts of Sonoma and Napa Valley for our elite Cabernet Sauvignons, Dry Creek for our hedonistically rich Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc, the Russian River and Petaluma Gap for our ethereal Pinot Noirs and lavishly flavored yet sleek Chardonnay.”

It is this passion to be the best and share his wines with the rest of the world that drives Kevin. With his wine team, he spends countless hours in the vineyard and the winery to perfect the flavor of each wine so they reflect the unique terroir and the passionate grower who farms the land. It is this attention to detail that brings out the personality and character of the wines and has garnered so many awards at major competitions around the country.

A new boutique wine facility was created in 2008 to make wines in small lots with uncompromising control. There isn’t always a need for speed. The winery is specifically designed to allow Kevin and his world-class winemaking team to spend time with each lot. Carefully monitoring each barrel, taking the time to make the right decisions, time to fully understand and manage the variables that go into crafting the perfect wines. You take one look at the winery—with its pristine state-of-the-art winemaking equipment and shiny, spotless floors—and you know there is a desire to make the best.

Video here on their website, and a review here.

P.S. Kevin’s racing company is an internationally prominent manufacturer and distributor of performance Porsche parts!

Hawkes Vineyards and Winery

The Hawkes family has been growing grapes in the Alexander Valley for more than 30 years. They own and farm three vineyards, all planted on sparsely soiled hillsides, and all yielding small amounts of highly intense fruit. When they launched the Hawkes label, they aimed to translate their extraordinary standards for the quality of their grapes into extraordinary wines.

Hawkes’ Alexander Valley wine is made exclusively from fruit they grow, with both farmer and winemaker involved in every stage of the wine’s evolution, from the vine, to the barrel, to the bottle. 

Growing100% varietal grapes for over forty years, and bottling under the Hawkes private label since 2002, father-and-son winemakers Stephen and Jake Hawkes produce handcrafted wines from their family-owned vineyards in the Alexander Valley. Visitors can taste Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay indoors or on the patio. The winery’s vintages are sold from the tasting room or online only.

Learn more from this YouTube video on Hawkes.

Reviews of their tasting room here and here. (Click logo above to visit Hawkes’ website.)

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